Italian clothing and textile companies on Thursday called on the government to support their ailing sector, which has been hit by the drying-up of credit and a slump in demand for fashion.
Producers of fabric, clothes, leather bags, shoes and glasses gathered in Italy's fashion capital Milan to announce a campaign for government assistance under the slogan: "Made in Italy, Let's Not Waste More Time!"
Italian fashion houses have been warning for weeks of a dramatic downturn in their sector, which earlier this month led the owner of the Gianfranco Ferre fashion label to file for bankruptcy protection for its main unit.
"Orders have been blocked for a month and a half. The situation is explosive," Michele Tronconi, head of the Italian Textile and Fashion Federation, said on Wednesday.
"We represent 20 to 25 per cent of Europe's textile market. Our sector employs 500,000 people and has about 54 billion euros in sales," he said.
The federation is calling for a state credit guarantee fund that will ease access to loans for fashion companies and more measures to boost demand.
The government will hold a crisis meeting with representatives of the fashion and textile industries on February 26.