The ‘Made in China’ debate

There has been a big debate on Twitter about luxury fashion brands and where they make their products. The tweet below appeared on my timeline, so I decided to do a bit of research to see whether the claim was actually true.

A lot of brands do indeed have factories in China because of its low cost of operation. Some companies manufacture entirely in China or partly. I want to firstly unpick the tweet before I go into what I found.

Chanel released videos showing the creation of their infamous bags. In the video, these bags were handmade by seamstresses. This video went viral with people praising it for its meticulous process; however, there was backlash due to the accusations that they are in fact manufactured in China and attach handles in France to disguise their actual origin.

There are claims that the bags are, in fact, handmade because they are haute couture. Chanel is, of course, haute couture, but with the demand being so high, it is highly unlikely that each Chanel bag is made like the video shows. The Haute Couture stores in France may have seamstresses, but on a global scale, this is unlikely. Chanel is not fast fashion, so they do not produce as many products as other brands, but they are still mass-produced.

When I did my research to find out whether Chanel did actually manufacture in China, I couldn’t find any articles. What I did find were articles refuting this claim and suggesting that Chanel is produced in France. However, if this tweet is true, then they are legally allowed to state that they manufacture in France. The replies to the tweets were interesting. There were a lot of people admitting that they already knew this but provided no information to support this claim. Another tweet provided an article about Prada’s connection to China but nothing on Chanel’s.

It is known that other luxury brands have done exactly what this tweet claims. Balenciaga’s Triple S trainers originally had a ‘Made in Italy’ label, but this was changed to a ‘Made in China’ label after they were exposed for manufacturing there. There has been uproar about luxury brands producing in China because, despite the low cost of operation, they’re still sold at the same price. Consumers believe that because of the low cost during production, the products should be cheaper.

Now, back to Chanel. This tweet made a large claim but my research didn’t seem to turn up anything about the accusation. Instead, I came across other luxury brands that manufacture in China. I’m not saying this tweet is false because it is plausible that due to the demand, Chanel does mass-produce elsewhere; however, I think with an accusation such as this, there needs to be evidence to support this claim. Seeing as other luxury brands have come under fire for doing this, it may be true that Chanel are doing the same. There are also loopholes regarding factories and workers, and many brands use external factory companies so as to not directly associate themselves with that part of the production – refer to my Primark post. Twitter is certainly a hub for news and debate, but you shouldn’t necessarily believe what you read.

I think it is very important that we consider where our clothes are coming from, not only on a sustainable level but on an ethical level too. Who is making our clothes and are they being treated fairly?

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