In style, the grass often seems that little bit shinier and slinkier on the other side of the fence. As the proverb suggests, however, that is merely because you happen to live on one side.
The English want to be Italian and wear Italian suits. To them the Italian knows more, spends more and fits better into his clothes. It’s been a long time since brands proudly displayed on their labels where something was made. But some do still advertise that something was made in Italy.
Marks & Spencer has its Italian range, with the location of production proudly displayed on labels and advertising, and all against a deep red that suggests sophistication. Unfortunately for Marks, this wasn’t always true. The chain was successfully sued a few years ago when it emerged that pieces it claimed were made in Italy were actually manufactured in India and Egypt. Now the claim is that the pieces are of Italian design.
But while the English want to be Italian, Italians often want to be English. Or, at the least, English clothes and shoes inspire an idea of history and longevity, tradition and excellence. It wasn’t until I was on honeymoon in Italy that I realised how true this is. One chain called Sir Winston I found in Turin, Florence and Milan, and stocked every English brand I could think of from Edward Green to Barbour, Church’s to Mulberry.
It proudly claimed that all its shoes were made in Northampton. But to people with only a passing interest in clothes (probably those that shop at M&S) Northampton is not synonymous with fine English shoemaking. It’s just another town. Just like being made in Italy doesn’t necessarily mean quality, or sophistication, to an Italian.
So I would say ignore where something is made unless it really shows something unique about the production. And when thinking about design, be proud of the fact that Italians want to wear English-style suits.