Italy fashion sector seeks aid as crisis bites

Wed Feb 18, 2009 12:47pm EST
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By Marie-Louise Gumuchian

MILAN (Reuters) - Italy's fashion industry is calling for government help as the global crisis cuts into demand for designer clothes and accessories and the sector's first credit crunch casualty goes into special administration.

Luxury brands have not been spared by the global economic turmoil and the sector has been hit by growing evidence of restrained spending even among the super-rich.

In a senate hearing this week, the head of Sistema Moda Italia, which represents the textile and clothing industry, warned of risks for the sector and called for government help.

"The Italian clothing and textile sector risks falling to pieces under the weight of the international economic crisis," Michele Tronconi, was quoted by Italian media as saying.

"We don't want someone to pedal for us. We know how to ride a bicycle well but at this time a push is necessary."

The Italian government this month approved a total stimulus package of more than 2 billion euros ($2.52 billion) aimed at the auto sector and household goods, in the latest attempt by the debt-laden government to boost the economy amid the financial crisis.

Italy's National Chamber of Fashion, which has already said fashion businesses were shocked that their sector had not been taken into consideration, added weight to the call for aid on Wednesday.

Chairman Mario Boselli told reporters it was understandable aid was aimed at the auto and domestic appliances sectors but questioned furniture being helped over fashion.   Continued...