Camera della Moda’s Guidelines on Chemical Use Come Full Circle

MILAN — The Camera della Moda is upping the ante on sustainability by expanding its road map to define better standards and practices deemed crucial to preserving Italy’s fashion supply chain.

On Wednesday, the fashion body’s chairman Carlo Capasa was joined by a slew of association representatives to unveil the Camera’s latest document, called “Best Manufacturing Practices — Guidelines on the use of chemicals in the fashion supply chain,” which integrates previous guidebooks about chemicals issued in 2016 and 2018, respectively.

“We need to leverage the available technology and spread the word about what we can do today. This is an implementational and educational document that sets the ambitious goal to help companies reduce and set off their environmental footprint,” explained Capasa.

The document assesses best practices across different stages of the supply chain in textile, leather goods and accessories production, identifying around 350 “high-concerning” chemicals that are involved overall.

Stemming from the belief that the fashion industry needs to share a common vocabulary, the guidelines come in the form of a glossary gathering all known chemicals and manufacturing steps, providing companies with 130 best practices and almost 500 measures that they should try to implement to reduce and offset their environmental footprint.

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The document was compiled by the CNMI Chemicals Commission, led by sustainability executives from leading Italian brands such as Giorgio Armani, Gucci, Prada, Valentino and Versace, among others, with the support of Tessile e Salute, Sistema Moda Italia or SMI, Federchimica, Unic and Quantis Italy.

According to Marco Piu, scientific and organizational coordinator at Tessile e Salute, an eco-toxicology association that evaluates the safety and sustainability of chemicals employed by the textile and fashion industries, the guidelines “represent a resource for brands and manufacturers alike. The latter can draw useful information for sourcing the chemicals they use and monitor criticality and risks accordingly, while brands should rely on those principles to analyze their supply chain and enhance the sustainable level of the products they sell.”

Piu added that the document also sets precise targets for the fashion supply chain that are partially interlinked with the 2030 sustainable development goals allowing the Italian fashion sector, which makes up 41 percent of European fashion production, to set its own, science-based rules.

The overall consensus is that the scientific and assessment-based approach is gaining steam among Italian fashion players. Simone Pedrazzini, director at Quantis Italy, noted that tools such as the Life Cycle Assessment are increasingly considered pivotal in matching sustainable and business needs as fashion companies seek guidance for their day-by-day choices.

“If you lack a scientific backbone, the risk about greenwashing — albeit unintentional — is extremely high,” he said.

Andrea Crespi, managing director at textile maker Eurojersey and president of the sustainability committee at SMI, noted that in order to avoid that risk, setting measurable targets is key. In his view it also allows companies to know the financial and human resources required for the transformation.

The fashion supply chain has been able to remain intact and gain market share over the past decade in part due to its ability to reinvent and push sustainability forward. Capasa, who has spearheaded the fashion chamber’s increased commitment towards sustainability in recent years, noted that next up is a project on circular economy.

“Sustainability is not something you can tackle by yourself, it’s a collective effort,” he said. “We’re starting to understand that similarly, circular economy is not about a single sector but should be addressed jointly by different industries. We need to start thinking about wastes as resources with a value,” he offered.

One such example is provided by the tanning industry, which sources the byproducts of the food sector to turn hides otherwise destined to the landfill in leather goods, accessories and design products. As reported, the Italian government passed a law last year regulating the use of the term leather, which cannot be employed to describe non-animal materials, including vegan leather.

“Eco-leather was inappropriate and misleading as it often refers to plastic and petrol-derived substitutes,” said Alessandro Iliprandi, vice president of Unic. “I urge today’s and future generations to understand that the only eco-leather available is real leather.”

The guidelines will be published and made available to the public on the websites of Camera della Moda and the other associations involved.

See also:

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