I was quite surprised and very disappointed to receive an email from one of our stockists, a beautiful Resort in Turks & Caicos. It read “Some guests just won’t buy your garments because they are Made in China”.
The email was signed “China” . I was not sure if this is the name of the store manager or just a funny human error.
I replied something along the lines of:
“I have lived in Hong Kong for over 30 years. My children were born here. I have worked in Hong Kong in the fashion industry since the early 80’s. I invested in a small garment factory in China in the early 90’s; I was very proud then (and now) as a European (woman!) , to establish early on a textile business in China with a perfectly charming mainland Chinese partner. My son worked in our China factory for 5 years after he graduated from an American University.
I launched my brand just over 2 years ago; I create all my designs here in Hong Kong, my home; I have a sample room and small production facility, pattern maker and sewing ladies working on samples; in China, the ladies hand embroider my garments, (the same ladies I have worked with for 20 years!)
Why would I produce my collection outside of Hong Kong/China, if this is where I live and work and have come to call home?
It is most likely that I could not produce these clothes in Canada where I was born, even if I wanted to. Nor could I produce them in Europe. China and India are probably the only places that still have the skilled workers that can achieve the beautiful craftsmanship we want to offer our customers. Soon in China, these skilled workers will disappear. The expert sewing ladies in Europe are a dying breed. No one here nor there wants to spend hours embellishing a garment. Adieu les petites mains!
“A high end luxury brand is made in Italy or France, not in China.” I’m sorry to disappoint you, but no - not all luxury brands are made in Italy or France!
I ordered a little hand embroidered jacket from my favourite brand in Paris , it took 12 weeks to arrive. The panels were embroidered in India. The label reads “Made in France”. Was I disappointed to hear from the sales girl, that my French designer jacket was actually being hand embroidered somewhere? I said “India!?” And she became a bit flustered and replied “Yes. India.’’ ( I knew that only India could offer such intricate embroidery ) I can name 20 or more luxury brands that manufacture their goods in China and India. Additionally, I can name a few of those that have the label in their clothes read “Made in Italy.” All the embroidered panels come back from overseas to Italy, are sewn up in Italy, the finished garment is then a “Made in Italy” garment. Yet all this remains completely legal.
Ironically, one of the biggest textile industries in Europe is established in Prato – Italy. The city of Prato has the largest concentration of Chinese people in Italy and as well as the whole continent of Europe, and most of them work in the garment industry! So when you think your luxury garment has been “Made in Italy” well it probably was - but by a Chinese worker!