The consequences of war are also being counted here. It’s nothing remotely comparable to the bombs that are devastating Ukrainian cities, literally bringing a territory and people to their knees. However, this crisis is an earthquake for the Western globalisation model itself and our companies are suffering the direct consequences of this.
These ones include also issues in the fashion industry, which in Florence represents a tradition as well as an excellence put to the test by the interruption of commercial interactions. Cna is calling for an extraordinary plan for them. The value of Italian exports to Russia in 2021 will in fact amount to approximately 7.7 billion euros, equal to 1.5% of the foreign sales that our country makes in the world. Euro-Asian giant absorbs 1.6% of Italian manufacturing exports, but this share is even higher in the fashion industry (2.5%), mechanics (2.6%), and furniture (3.1%).
Not only large, but also small and medium-sized Florentine companies are paying the price. Il Borgo Cashmere is an example; it’s an artisan company founded in 1949 and owned by the same family since then. It produces refined spun yarns, mainly cashmere, a product coveted by Russian customers. They have several sales outlets, including one inside one of the most prestigious hotels in Florence, the Four Seasons, as well as a showroom in Milan.
“We produce directly and work for other brands, mainly French”, explains Franco Fredducci, who has been at the helm of the brand for many years, “now the orders are frozen, we have stationary goods for 150,000 euro. When difficult situations like these happen, the market goes haywire immediately”.
The company has 47 employees, which rise to over 100 with its spin-off, numbers not to be trifled with. Yet, one does not lose heart. On the contrary, the entrepreneur says: “Who among us is not afraid at a time like this? We have faced many situations we didn't know how to deal with and have come out better than before. It all depends on people: if one's team believes in it, difficulties are overcome more easily”. In fact, Russia absorbs 10 per cent of their market.
Furthermore, they launch a message of absolute optimism. He emphasises: “I hope this situation can be resolved; in some ways, it was easier for us to deal with Covid. An entrepreneur must always see the glass half full: our task is to move forward, invest and be patient. We try to overcome these moments doing more and more beautiful things. During Covid we invested, we bought. We believe there will be a recovery this time as well: when peace returns there will be even more desire than before. Today we are suffering a loss, but we want to overcome it projecting ourselves with other strategies on other markets.”
It's a paradox within the paradox of war. Fredducci clarifies: “Russians would like our goods. They are used to our products and do without them reluctantly. We know many of them personally, we have established relations. Maybe they have children studying in Europe or America. With this conflict,” he concludes, “we seem to have gone back to the dark years of the past”.