What does “Made in Italy” mean?

We are renowned worldwide for our fashion, our food and our design: with its excellent artisan and industrial workmanship and its arts and crafts, Italy has allowed us to gain an outstanding reputation all over the world. Such excellence conveys the tradition of “doing things well” and tastefully, and meticulous attention to detail acquired over the years.

But what does “Made in Italy” mean?

Since the 1980s, “Made in Italy” has been an expression used by Italian producers as part of a process to re-evaluate and protect the Italian nature of our products to counteract fake Italian products, especially in the 4 traditional sectors known, in Italy, as “the 4 As”: clothing, agri-food, furniture and cars.

Over the years, “Made in Italy” has increasingly required precise definitions and legal safeguards to protect it from fakes and fraud.

A question of boundaries

Before 2016, the “Made in Italy” label could be used if a product had been entirely made in Italy or if it had undergone its last substantial transformation in Italy. This meant that a garment assembled in Italy with semi-finished products from other countries could be called “Made in Italy” as much as a product made with Italian raw materials and handcrafted within our national borders.

To give consumers the opportunity to identify products with an entirely made in Italy production process, on 1 May 2016 the new EU Customs Code came into force with related provisions that replaced the previous EC Customs Code. In compliance with Article 16 of Law no. 166 of 2009, only products entirely made in Italy (i.e. designed, manufactured and packed in Italy) can be defined as “Made in Italy”, 100% Made in Italy, 100% Italian, all-Italian, in whatever language they are expressed, with or without the Italian flag.

A question of people

What about labour? People? Who makes this “Made in Italy”?

Since the “Made in Italy” label only refers to the place where the production process is carried out and does not consider the nationality of the craftsmen, work may be entrusted to underpaid foreigners working in unsustainable conditions within the Italian borders.

For us at Womsh, this is also a major issue in analysing the meaning of “Made in Italy”, as well as being a crucial factor in terms of human rights and labour. The reasons for protecting this label need to go beyond efforts to keep production within Italy, also by tackling the problem of the “hands” that produce “Made in Italy” products.

“Made in Italy” should mean that products, besides being the result of Italian talent and  entirely of Italian origin, are made in healthy environments without exploiting people.

As we understand it, “Made in Italy” fits into the larger context of sustainability, which means high-quality products made with respect for tradition and people.