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Thank you for the wonderful article in dissecting the luxury brands. I have a question that relates to the article as well. Does “Made in China” influences the value of fashion brands? There are some name brands out there with their goods manufactured in other countries other than US or Europe, does the value of their goods deteriorate because of that? Michael Kors’ bags are manufactured in China, but it does not seem to effect brand popularity, is it because of their marketing campaign? Do independent designer’s brands that are manufactured in Asia or South America seem more inferior? Thank you in advance for answering my question!
“Made in China” has a very different significance today than it did ten years ago, as manufacturing there has improved a great deal, and it is much easier to get high quality products from that end of the world. On that note, there is also a big movement towards locally made products, for example, American-made fashion, and if those brands are targeting the type of consumer who wants “American-made,” then that will be a major benefit.
There are a few factors affecting the impact of the “Made in” label. Here they are:
1. The brand. Consumers have different expectations from different brands. If you go into Walmart to buy a t-shirt, you expect it to be made in Asia, as that’s the only way for them to make t-shirts for $5. If you go into Gucci and buy a $1500 handbag, you expect it to be made in Italy. (Incidentally, brands like Gucci do get their bags partially made in China, but the final stitches are put on in Italy, which means they can put the “Made in Italy” label on them. That’s a bit deceiving, but, I digress…)
When luxury brands make things in China, it usually means that they know their customer is more interested in buying the brand and unconcerned about where it is made, so the country of origin doesn’t matter.
2. The consumer: Some consumers care about where their products are made, others don’t. As I mentioned above, there has been a movement towards buying local, and there is a new(ish) consumer who is very keen on buying products that are made locally. For my company, The Sleep Shirt, one of our biggest selling points is that it is made in Canada. On the other hand, some consumers want to buy products that are made in what I’ll call “prestige apparel manufacturing countries” like France and Italy. Those kind of consumers want a product made in one of thee countries because they think it will be better quality (and usually, it is.)
The last type of consumer is the one that doesn’t care. And to be honest, I think that is most of us, most of the time, at least for part of the clothing we buy. When I am shopping, I will certainly be drawn to products that are made locally, but for things some things (like t-shirts and socks) I rarely look at the label. On the other hand, I feel like the factory in Bangladesh certainly drew attention to the plight of the garment workers in Asis, but its effect on our cheap clothing shopping habits is yet to be seen
3. The product: The last issue is the product. Certain countries specialize in certain types of manufacturing, for example, China and Brazil make a lot of footwear and India does a lot of beading. If you want to get shoes made in Canada, you are out of luck, we simply don’t have many good factories who can make this product, because of the specialized skill and machines involved in making footwear. So companies like Lululemon can get away with making a great deal of their product in Asia, and still consider themselves a “premium” brand, because there are a lot of big and high quality activewear manufacturers in that part of the world.