GCFA, Italia: 2020 – CNMI’s Carlo Capasa on Taking the Green Carpet Fashion Awards Digital

Ahead of the fourth edition of the Green Carpet Fashion Awards, Italia, Carlo Capasa, chairman of Camera Nazionale della Moda Italiana, shared his GCFA highlights to date, his thoughts on how fashion can be a force for good, and what Made in Italy means to him.


When COVID-19 put the breaks on live physical events for 2020, the teams at Eco-Age and Camera Nazionale della Moda Italiana had to rethink this year’s fourth edition of the Green Carpet Fashion Awards, Italia, which since 2017 has brought sustainability to forefront of the fashion agenda with a glittering ceremony at Milan’s Teatro alla Scala during Milan Fashion Week.

The result was a pioneering digital film for 2020, which took the annual event from La Scala to the living rooms of audiences across the globe using a combination of cinematic footage with augmented reality and visual FX.

For CNMI President Carlo Capasa, who has been at the helm of Italy’s fashion council since 2015, the pandemic offered an opportunity to rethink the format. “I believe that every crisis gives you the chance to open a discussion on what can be rethought” he tells us. “Coronavirus made it impossible for us to organise physical events, so we decided to create a new digital format. While doing so, we wanted to achieve three main goals: send a positive message after the pandemic crisis, stress how sustainability is important now more than ever, and spread the message globally by streaming the event so it can reach everyone.”

We spoke to Capasa about this year’s GCFA and how the Italian supply chain has united in the face of the pandemic:

Livia Firth and Carlo Capasa presenting the GCFA, Italia 2020. Although they appear next to each other, they were filmed separately.
Livia Firth and Carlo Capasa presenting the GCFA, Italia 2018 in La Scala.

Why was it so important to you to bring the sustainability conversation into the Italian fashion industry through events like the Green Carpet Fashion Awards, Italia?

From the beginning, we wanted to give the message that sustainability is glamorous and we wanted to make sustainability appealing, in order for brands to understand that they can be both creative and sustainable together. Four years ago, when we launched the Green Carpet Fashion Awards, it was the first time that Milan Fashion Week had seen such a big event; we spread a massive message and it turned out to be the perfect way to involve brands and also the city. It was the beginning of a new trend: after the first edition many companies started to work on sustainability.

What do this year’s Green Carpet Fashion Award winners represent in the current climate and for the future of fashion?

The winners represent the different challenges we have to face nowadays: inclusion and diversity, the vision of SDGs and the opportunity of creating partnerships and acting together with the global business community, social aspects of the supply chain, and print for fashion. These people are leading examples for younger generations and beyond; they demonstrated the ability to drive the change.

This is the fourth edition of the Green Carpet Fashion Awards, what has been your GCFA highlight to date?

There are so many! But if I had to pinpoint them down to three I would surely say: When we got the big 4 on stage (Armani, Valentino, Prada, Gucci); every time we gave an award to the artisans; and having Sofia Loren – one of my favourite actress – and Mr. Garavani, a piece of history, attending.

How do you think you’ll incorporate the technology utilised this year in the future for the GCFA?

I think that technology turned out to be a great resource, and for this reason I hope that we will keep using it to support our physical events.

Carlo Capasa with wife Stefania Rocca at the GCFA, Italia 2019 at La Scala.
Gisele Bündchen, Carlo Capasa and Livia Firth at the GCFA, 2017

Do you think digital events could provide a more sustainable future for the traditional fashion week schedule?

I surely believe that digital technology is a great resource, however I don’t think that it will be able to substitute physical shows completely. In the fashion industry, it is necessary to see and touch the products – for this reason I believe that digital can support the show but will not be able to replace it. I think that the fashion industry is evolving in that sense, a good example is in our latest Fashion Week where 157 appointments were divided between physical and digital shows.  

How has 2020 and the global pandemic impacted Italian fashion industry and how has the response demonstrated unity and togetherness?

Many initiatives by many brands have been carried out during the health emergency. Many textiles and manufacturing firms produced face masks, sanitiser gels and medical clothing. In this difficult moment, in my opinion, the fashion industry has shown that unity is strength. Our associates have shown great generosity through individual solidarity activities and through CNMI’s solidarity initiative “Italia we are with you”, which allowed us to donate 3 million € to the Italian Civil Protection. Our Association has never been so united and I was proud that the collaboration and support of our members made us overcome this moment of crisis together.

What does Made in Italy mean to you?

Made in Italy has many meanings to me: creative talent, artisanal flair, sustainable processes, ethical codes, high quality and ethical beauty.

What is one lesson that Italy can share with the world about prioritising people and planet in the fashion value chain?

I think sustainability is naturally owned by Italy. The Italian Fashion Industry is the second industry in our country; we are the only country where you can find both the entire supply chain and the fashion houses and we are the first producer in Europe (41%),  followed by Germany (11%), so we have a big responsibility and need to lead the way towards a more sustainable fashion future.

We conducted a study, together with McKinsey (“Sustainability matters but does it sell?”), where we discovered that Italy is the country that is most associated to sustainability because of its heritage and craftsmanship background. I don’t have a proper lesson Italy can share, however as CNMI I can surely say that creating workgroups and starting conversations and exchanges with the brands, creating a common voice, is the way to go in the future.

How do you think Fashion can become a force for good in the world?

Fashion has a great power: the ability to influence, to change, to communicate, to have an impact on the culture we live in; in other words, fashion is a change maker itself. This force can be channelled for good and I think we are acting together as never before, we are making efforts to make our garments more sustainable, but, it’s important to remember that only if we work together we can succeed.