14 June 2015

Does ‘Made in’ matter?

The Issue

Does ‘Made in’ matter?


Labelling specifying the country in which a good was produced has long been a marker of quality. The ateliers of France, leather workers of Italy and watchmakers of Switzerland have built global reputations for their exacting standards. Today, ‘Made in’ labelling is also an indicator of the regulations and health, safety and wage standards under which a good was produced.

But in a world with increasingly complex supply chains that can span several countries, a jacket sold by a European brand can be manufactured in a cheap and relatively unregulated labour market like China, but finished and packaged in France or Italy, thereby earning a ‘Made in France’ or ‘Made in Italy’ label. Indeed, according to European Union regulations, companies need only spend a certain amount manufacturing a good in a certain country in order to qualify for local ‘made in’ labelling.

At the same time, powerful alternative labelling systems, like Fairtrade and Certified Organic, have emerged, offering companies new tools for communicating manufacturing standards to consumers, who are increasingly concerned with the provenance of their goods. Does ‘Made in’ still matter?

Context
Opinions
Bandana Tewari Journalist

Op-Ed | Making 'Made in India' Matter

A new campaign encouraging foreign nations to use India as a manufacturing hub is an opportunity to promote 'Made in India' as a stamp of quality, artistry and heritage within the fashion industry, says Bandana Tewari.

Joy Nazzari

Op-Ed | Provenance Matters. Where Can I Get Some?

Three ways brands that lack genuine origin stories can tap the power of provenance.

Tom Adams

Op-Ed | The Brand Power of ‘Made in’

Consumers care more about where products come from than ever before, argues Tom Adams. How can brands use this knowledge to inform their strategy?

Safia Minney

Op-Ed | Fair Trade Goes Beyond ‘Made in’

‘Made in’ matters, but Fair Trade is more powerful because it introduces the consumer to the actual producer of a garment, argues Safia Minney of People Tree.

Dr Jutta Steiner

Op-Ed | Blockchain Can Bring Transparency to Supply Chains

The open source, decentralised database blockchain allows consumers to check the authenticity and ethical standards of their products, says Dr. Jutta Steiner.

Top Comments
It depends on the brand's positioning. In my opinion, 'Made in' is of extreme importance for any luxury brand but not for fashion brands in general.
By Nitesh Sehgal
"Made in" (be it France or Italy) is no longer the trademark of quality it used to be. In Italy we have large industrial areas where the Chinese sweatshops are well established (Prato, near Florence, is just the most famous). We need to speak of materials, manufacturing process and craftsmanship.
By Elisa Motterle
Surely the question is why luxury brands are not disclosing the true origin of their products. The obvious temptation is to conclude that they have something to hide.
By Humphrey Couchman

What's your opinion?