Three simple words. What do they evoke in the mind? Depending on your industry and whether you’re a connoisseur of fine things, probably a greater willingness to pay, or pay a higher price. Made in Italy means that you have a superior product, one made with consideration and expertise. Most luxury brands originate there, and most still utilize local talent and tradition to bring high-end accessories, leathergoods, footwear, clothing, and pottery to world market.
My parents’ dear friend Anna grew up there until age 9, when her family immigrated to the US. She still goes back to visit family yearly, and is always one of the best-dressed women I know. Furla bags, Ferragamo shoes. Dolce & Gabbana scarves. I believe she is the epitome of old guard Italian woman…where you buy 2-3 big ticket pieces each season and use them to death, then recycle, donate, or save them for when their fashionable moment comes again (it always does). This may now be less apparent as a standard, but I see other Europeans doing similar things. Young girls buying relatively expensive items that they keep for 10 years or more.
Since developing an interest, followed by a sick obsession with clothing and leather, I have collected several pieces that were made in Italy. A brief catalog:
Sisley denim jacket: When International Mall opened in Tampa is 2001, Sisley was one of my favorite shops. The sales staff WERE Italian, and the clothes they sold were exotic. They definitely had better sales than anyone else. Apparently now they only have 3 stores in the states – San Francisco, Boston, and Las Vegas.
Prada shirt: Made of stretch cotton and elastane, I bought this in frustration. Spent all day walking around Soho in Manhattan, found nothing I wanted, so I went into Prada, tried on this shirt, arranged to have it altered and sent to me, and paid for it in a matter of 30 minutes! Have had it since…2004?
Tod’s patent drivers: I bought these in Paris at the Saint Germain Tod’s store. 275â‚¬ and they were mine. Totally frivolous but they’ve become “the shiny shoes” among my friends. Still look great for 3 1/2 years old too!
John Varvatos *Collection vest: Gilt purchase! Guilty! I’m a sucker for fabrics with a shiny sheen. Also a unique standout in a field of boring tweed, herringbone alternatives.
Ray-Ban sunglasses: One is mom’s, one is mine. You can’t beat Ray-Ban for classic shapes in classic colorways. Not pictured are my dad’s Wayfarers with Brooks Brothers repp stripes on the inside.
Also not pictured…Prada wallet and checkbook (mom), Tod’s yellow card case (mine). Two of my favorite leather brands.
In my googling for other Made in Italy excitement, I found:
Made by Hand (Persol Eyewear)
A Snug Philosophy (Brunello Cucinelli)
My mother also has several pieces of pottery from Italy, including these hand painted hors d’oeuvres bowls by the artist De Simone.
To me, a product made in Italy is true and authentic. Not pretentious, not full of itself. It is what it is – beautiful, cleanly cut, and presented with longevity and heirloom qualities in mind. The economy of Italy (and the consumption patterns of the world) may not be what they were 20 years ago – but connoisseurs will always keep artisans employed by appreciating what the differences are between something made in a considerate environment rather than a rushed, crowded, abusive one.
What does Made in Italy mean to you? Do you have any great items from the boot-shaped country?