Sparking Inclusivity in Fashion

When Camera Nazionale Della Moda Italiana (CNMI), Italy’s fashion governing body, first announced its commitment to promote inclusivity and diversity in 2018 within fashion in 2018 the company started with education. Published in 2019, CNMI’s Inclusion and Diversity Manifesto highlighted the path forward for Italian companies including inclusivity strategies that took into consideration ethnicity, age, socio-economic conditions and different skill levels.

Now, with an established foundation in its commitment, CNMI has joined forces with Mygrants, the platform developed by Christian Richmond Nzi that since its foundation has provided career and placement services to migrants and refugees in Italy, to put its goals into action.

“We are proud to present this new project, marking an important step in the evolution process to make our fashion system more and more inclusive,” said Carlo Capasa, chairman for Camera Nazionale della Moda Italiana. “Following the release of our Manifesto in 2019, we started to take action with several initiatives, including ‘Fashion Deserves the World.”

For Mygrants, who has proven proficient in assessing skills and matching supply and demand in the labor market, the partnership with CNMI opens the door to the fashion sector of the workforce.

“We’ve been working across different sectors, and after a year and a half talking with the Camera Della Moda, we are finally able to make our foray into the fashion sector,” said Nzi, chief executive officer of Mygrants during a virtual press conference in June. “Over the years, we’ve been in touch with people with fashion-related skills, in tailoring for example, but we never managed to offer them the right job positions.”

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Through the Mygrants platform, which counts over 135,000 active users, the companies have opened applications to all migrants and refugees under the age of 35 with fashion-related expertise. When applications close on September 30, 2021, a select group of 15 talented finalists will then be chosen to kick off the initiative. Notably, while Capasa said his team felt it was important to start the program’s pilot by supporting just 15 individuals, he “hopes this project will spread like wildfire.”

Further, Capasa pointed out that the initiative comes at a fitting time in the industry with around 40,000 high-skilled fashion jobs projected to become vacant in the upcoming years in the wake of retirements.

“They are all very specific jobs, and we have to find successors among people with talent and commitment,” said Capasa. “Migrants and refugees are an integral part of our country and a great resource. We are proud to present this new project, making an important step in the evolution process to make our fashion system more and more inclusive.”

Building inclusivity

Once selected, program’s 15 finalists will be given free access to a training program curated by CNMI, with 10 webinars designed to update and strengthen skills in order to facilitate placements in the fashion industry. The classes, which will take place between the end of December 2021 and beginning of January 2022 will see contribution from a range of experts to explore different topics from materials and manufacturing techniques to distribution, communication and sustainability.

At the end of the educational programing, CNMI and Mygrants will support the participants in the placement process, putting them in touch with Italian companies who will offer them internships or full-time positions, depending on their needs and the candidates’ profiles.

Moreover, with this project CNMI aims to not only meet the sector’s need for trained workers, but integrate inclusive policies within its business model and take a stand to act as a driver for promote a highly necessary change in the industry – ultimately setting an example for others to follow.

“Sharing best practices is the aim of all our projects on diversity and inclusion and corporate social responsibility,” said Capasa. “Our responsibility as an association and as a leader is to drive the industry and support the companies that are part of it, especially those who act in Italy but also the international ones who produce in our country.”

As the first edition of the “Fashion Deserves the World” initiative, Capasa told WWD his hope is to not only inspire other companies to participate in its later editions, but also to plan their own similar programs that can be adapted into specific corporate realities.

“I think the first and foremost thing for a company is to have a commitment,” said Capasa. “We’re at the beginning of a change and it will take it’s time to see results.  Some companies have already hired a diversity manager and set a diversity and inclusion strategy into action while others have started with single initiatives on these topics. Our Associate brands joined our initiative, by giving their full availability, without hesitation and with great enthusiasm, sending a strong message of inclusivity and proving the importance of this project.”

The “Fashion Deserves the World” project has already secured the patronage of the United Nations’ Ethical Fashion Initiative and was part of the calendar of events planned for World Refugee Day of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

“Mygrants, CNMI and its associated companies, we all have a huge responsibility,” said Nzi. “I think that the ‘Fashion Deserves the World’ can really make the difference for those young, talented migrants that are trying to find their space in the Italian fashion industry. I want to thank Carlo Capasa for its foresight and the CNMI team for its perseverance. Together, we will continue to do crazy things, making them the new normality.”

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