We all have heard 'made in Italy' at some points in our lives. As someone who spends a lot of time looking for unique makers across Europe, I hear and see this expression a lot.
So I thought to share my finding on why people appreciate, search and use things with and Italian label on it.
Italy has been one of the most popular holiday destinations for decades. And it is a bit of a ‘chicken and egg’ question. It is clear that people who discover authentic Italian food love to continue buying it when they come back.
Or is it because they enjoy Italian food so much at home they decide to visit the country during the holiday? This question is open for debate. Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments.
Italian food has conquered the world, and people in every nation appreciate it. We all know Italian dishes from childhood, and every self-respecting cook will have at least one Italian recipe book. Still, I find it a little amusing to see retailers importing pasta and even frozen pizzas with a ‘made in Italy’ label.
But it is not just that. It is probably even more regarding Italian agricultural produce. Even the smallest shops stock Italian olive oil, cheese and wine. And the larger ones extending their Italian food options to pickles, smoked meats, etc.
Let's admit it; we do enjoy it. Whether it is just a recipe cooked by us, a pizza delivered by a local restaurant or that creamy Mozzarella Di Bufala - it does feels quite special.
Italian made things are famous because they are ‘Italian made’. Just like with celebrities, we tend to follow the crowd. For example, Kardashians are mostly famous for being famous.
I do wonder if the same would not apply to Italian products. With all the excitement about the ‘Italian made,’ and the certain status symbols, we do want to use it and show it off to others.
You will often hear ladies proudly mentioning that their bag or shoes are from Italy. But the same goes for men, especially those who are keen to show off their wealth or status.
Also, it goes beyond the things we wear. One can proudly display an Italian coffee maker, pottery, Murano glass chandelier, or piece of art or even a car.
I do not mean to generalise. This is to highlight only a relatively small portion of all people who appreciate Italian made products. Of course, there many other reasons to love, appreciate and to own Italian craft.
I have an Italian friend who pointed at Mosaic in an Italian church and said - that’s where our attention to every little detail started. And it is true; such artworks required exceptional eye for detail and level of patience I will never have. It is quite old tradition, but it might be closer you to than you think. You can still find these meticulously formed Mosaics in every Roman excavation around the former Roman Empire.
For me, the discovery came when I bought my first Italian made wallet from Il Bussetto. It was displayed in a manly boutique shop in NYC and attracted my attention because of really nice (but not flashy) leather colours.
I bought the one with the deepest blue I have ever seen on a leather product. Later, I also realised that it showed the highest craftsmanship level I have ever seen before. On one side, for example, there were no stitches visible. The corners and edges were polished to seamless perfection. Needless to say, I still use it today, and with time it became even more bountiful due to natural oils darkening the most used edges.
I have to admit that I am not much into fashion myself. But even I know that Italian fashion designers are outstanding. There are so many Italian luxury brands driven by famous designers - Valentino Garavani, Gianni Versace, Franco Moschino, Guccio Gucci and the list goes on.
But, of course, it is not just about luxury fashion houses, designers and labels. There are many other less known but no less creative design houses aim at the mid-range consumer.
Most of us are still willing to spend a little more on the Italian design, but without having to tap into our savings. Also, for more budget couscous consumers, it is great to have so many options amongst the accessory products. You might spend more than usual on your wallet, but you can surely afford it easier than an evening dress from the same luxury designer.
Due to its popularity, the worldwide Italian fashion industry has grown to employ 580,000 people in the fashion industry. And looking at the export figures, it still continues to grow.
There is a reason that artisans and brands from other countries state that they used Italian leather, fabric or yarn. For hundreds of years, Italian artisan families passed on their skills from generation to generation. And now it has all accumulated to skills and experience that allows them to create the fabric of exceptional quality.
For the hide production, for example, artisans used the most suitable cow breeds for their products. Harder leather for making saddles and softer leather for accessories like wallets.
Then there is also hide processing secrets. Every nation is using different techniques and agents to keep it flexible and to preserve it for longer. Each family would have their own secret mix of oils, tree barks or even fish products. These days use of natural tanning agents like oak bark is very common still.
Such details perfected from one generation to the next lead to the exceptional quality appreciated worldwide today.
Italian engineers have something to be proud of. It contributes to the Italian production competences we tend to attribute for the higher quality of goods.
For example, Italian sports cars are well known for their brightly painted looks and exceptional performance. And of course, it does not just stop at cars or motorcycles. Italian engineers have been making many other things too.
For example, Campagnolo is a well-known bicycle part manufacturer. It has the following amongst cyclings around the world who especially appreciate their group-set and wheels. But it also makes other things too. It holds more than 2000 international patents ranging from materials, mechanisms and even aerodynamic designs. My personal favourite from them is the Big Corkscrew wine opener.
Campagnolo used their cycling engineering expertise to create a truly impressive oversized wine opener. It is a relatively new addition to their product range, but it is already widely appreciated by collectors and wine lovers. See my Big Corkscrew review if you like what you see.
Not all things with ‘made in Italy’ label are equally Italian, however. Things that had two manufacturing steps in Italy can use such a label, even if parts of it are coming from China.
However, if you are after a product that has been fully made in Italy lookout for ‘100% made in Italy’ certification.
It is issued by Istituto Tutela Produttori Italiani, who checks that entire cycle of production took place in Italy. It applies to the production itself, parts, design, and even checks for the use of traditional Italian manufacturing methods.
I find it quite strict, but that way, it is much easier for us consumers to trust that we are buying a 100% genuine product. Read my post about ‘What Does ‘Made In Italy’ Stand For?’ to learn more.
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