The Challenge of Sustainability within the Italian Fashion System

The Challenge of Sustainability within the Italian Fashion System

Alessandro Da Giau (University of Padova, Italy), Andrea Lion (University of Padova, Italy), Laura Macchion (University of Padova, Italy), Maria Caridi (Politecnico di Milano, Italy), Romeo Bandinelli (University of Florence, Italy), Federico Caniato (Politecnico di Milano, Italy), Romano Cappellari (University of Padova, Italy), Pamela Danese (University of Padova, Italy), Virginia Fani (University of Florence, Italy), Rinaldo Rinaldi (University of Florence, Italy) and Andrea Vinelli (University of Padova, Italy)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-0110-7.ch022


Sustainability has become a critical issue for the fashion industry globally. The question of how sustainability-related issues are regarded and implemented within this industry has been covered in recent studies, but there is still no overall perspective on the way these matters are being introduced throughout the entire supply network. This study examines how several focal Italian fashion companies are changing their image and practices to address sustainability concerns and how they are extending these initiatives to their suppliers and retailers. This analysis is based on various research methodologies, involving multiple case studies, secondary data analyses and mystery shoppers.
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The ability to preserve our natural environment and the existing societies in order to allow the future generations to meet their own needs is referred as the “sustainable development” (WCED, 1987) of the world. Such concept can be in turn considered into its two main surrounding dimensions, namely “environmental sustainability” and “Corporate Social Responsibility” (CSR).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Case Study: Research method often used in complex questions, having the purpose of expanding knowledge on the subject or strengthening what had been learnt in previous research work.

Brand Owner: Fashion sector brands that own the brand under which the product is sold. These are often the companies at the middle of the supply chain.

Cluster Analysis: Statistical technique used to group homogeneous elements together in a data set or cluster.

Drivers: Set of factors that can encourage companies to adopt programmes and initiatives linked to the field of sustainability.

Web-Based CSR Communication: A form of CSR communication that takes place through companies’ direct web channels (that is, through their own website).

Mystery Shopping: Activity of monitoring and analysing the procedures used in the points-of-sale where products are sold. In this study, it was used to assess the sales staff’s expertise and knowledge in the field of sustainability.

Supply Chain: The entire chain of all the organisations involved in producing and marketing a product, starting from the raw materials to the sale of finished products. For example: second level supplier - first level supplier - focal company - distributor - retailer.

CSR Communications: A type of communication designed and delivered by a company about its sustainability commitments, and having the end purpose of supporting and improving the company’s image, to promote relationships with the - local and non-local - community and consumers and, indirectly, to support their own products/services.

Barriers: Set of factors that can hinder companies from adopting programmes and initiatives linked to the field of sustainability.

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