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Protecting Milan's Fashion Week

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Milan's fashion week is again being cut short by Anna Wintour's travel plans. When this happened in 2008, Wintour blamed the weak dollar: "Americans come to see as much as possible, but the weak dollar makes our stay very expensive." Then too, Paris beckoned.

When Wintour flexes her muscles and reduces Milan fashion week, it is not ego, economy, or itinerary.

It is business.

As Milena Gabanelli points out, an abbreviated fashion week means fewer opportunities for Italian designers to attract buyers, buzz, and tourism. It also makes it all the more difficult for lesser-knowns to grab attention.

As Italians rightfully defend the creativity and quality of Made in Italy from Conde Nast's American Vogue, time might also be well spent solving wounds inflicted by lawyers, bankers, and businessmen. Made in Italy has been eroded through shortsighted business strategies. The Italian government is also to blame. As is the World Trade Organization.

Here are 5 ways to make Milan's fashion week less dependent upon Anna Wintour's itinerary:

1. Abandon the global network corporation model. Italian seamstresses are a competitive advantage for Italian houses. Outsourcing sewing to factories abroad may save money in the short term, but it undermines quality and erodes brand.

2. Best to import best business practices from America such as accessibility and environmental sustainability, rather than corporate cost-saving gimmicks.

3. The Italian government should demand that the World Trade Organization only permit the Made in Italy label be affixed on blouses, skirts and purses actually made and not just assembled in the country.

4. Italian houses that are publicly traded must be managed by executives who understand that their customer base is loyal to a national tradition, not short term shareholder wealth.

5. The government should offer subsidies to promote domestic guilds, not outsourcing strategies.