Most of us do not associate “Made in China” with luxury or designer brands but more and more of those fancy Italian shoes you like so much are actually made in China. You just may not find a tag inside the shoe saying so.
Especially in the current economic market, the sales of luxury items have decreased significantly and some designer brands are suffering. One of the most effective ways to cut costs is to move the base of operation overseas, and China provides one of the most appealing markets to set up shop.
The fact that “American” or “European” shoes are made in China is no secret. Nike has long been associated with “Made in China” shoes; in fact, approximately one in three of Nike’s sneakers come with a “Made in China” sticker. This compromise is trickier for designer brands such as Chanel, Prada and Armani that have built the success of their brand on “European craftsmanship” through and through. One of the reasons that someone might spend an extra 300 dollars on a Prada shoe is that they want a piece of artisanal Europe. They want to believe that what they are purchasing is the real deal – an Italian leather shoe built by someone who knows and loves the art of shoemaking, not by a factory worker in China.
So which companies have jumped continents? Armani, Dolce & Gabbana, Bally and Prada, to name a few brands. But not all of these companies are willing to publicize this new base of operation. In fact, in some of these shoes you will find a “Made in Italy” label where perhaps a “Made in China” label should be instead. This is possible thanks to some very flexible labeling laws which base a product’s label on the final point of production. So shoes made in China will have a leather sole attached in Italy and Voila! The shoes are legally “Made in Italy”.
That is not to say that these shoes are worse quality now than when they were manufactured in Europe. The claim is that workers in China are fast and precise. That is, they are capable of making equally high-quality shoes just in less time and for less money.
According to Giorgio Bonacarso – a chemical supplier who sells products to Chinese factories that manufacture Italian shoes – nine out of 10 of the high-end Italian shoe companies are now making at least part of their shoes in China. You, the consumer, may not be aware of it, and that is because the designer brands are afraid of backlash and losing the image that made them stand out from the pack in the first place.