There is the perception of location-specific quality; just because everything can be produced everywhere, doesn’t necessarily mean that (perceived) quality levels have been globalised. Some regions can afford to be expensive because of superior skills, rare expertise and/or a rock-solid brand. Which is why, contrary to earlier doomsayers, high-end brands are manufacturing or assembling in high-wage home countries, and not suffering from it. To put in simple terms, knowing where in the world to source for the best of the best in each product category is a differentiating factor that shouldn’t be ignored.
Over the decades, the unmatched sense of design and style has been Italy’s major export. You only need to think of household names like Ferrari and Armani to understand the power of Italian creativity on the international scene. The Made-In-Italy brand encompasses four or five main areas, which include fashion, food, wine, design (furniture, automobile) and travel. Compared with Made In Nigeria, Made In UK or Germany and Made In USA, Italian regulation is more restrictive in determining what qualifies for the use of the Made-In-Italy label. It’s as close to 100% as you’ll get anywhere else.
A recent BCG/Altagamma/Sanford Bernstein Global Consumer Insight study of about 40,000 consumers in more than 20 countries discovered 44% of consumers polled thought “Made in Italy” was the hallmark of excellence in clothing, accessories and jewellery. When broken down by country respondents, 63% of South Koreans thought “Made in Italy” topped any other national brand. Further studies on country of origin.
This was a major criteria in deciding where Qollars products would be manufactured. I was in Italy late November 2014 for a week to meet with the manufacturers. At the time, I was also considering moving to Italy to be closer to them. I spent most of my time in Milan before heading to the south of Italy for a day. The manufacturers are located in southern Italy just north of the port city of Bari. A beautiful city with clear waters, skies and a serene seaside. Enrico (the representative of the manufacturing company) was hospitable enough to pick me up at the airport and we drove down to their family run production facility. His dressing was subtle but significantly stylish. Wearing a blend of dark grey and navy checked cotton shirt jacket (it’s really warm in southern Italy) a washed olive green pocket square, grey pants and tan loafers, nothing stood out – effortless style I’d say.
Marking its 55th independent year every 1st of October, Nigeria is growing in stature economically with an ever expanding fashion sector. We still have a lot to learn but we are willing to learn which is a good sign. Why manufacture in Italy and not Nigeria I hear you ask?. Firstly, Made-In-Nigeria goods are more reputable in the agricultural sector. Secondly, in terms of finishing, variety of fabrics available and technical know-how, we are playing catch-up. Why not learn from the best, adopt their methods and interpret it locally. It’s like comparing a Made-In-Japan technological gadget with anywhere else. Qollars has plans to manufacture in Nigeria some day, possibly invite Italian tailoring and production experts to set up facilities here in the country. Knowledge transfer and job creation in this scenario will be the obvious occurrence.
For any Country of Origin’s brand to thrive, there needs to be a lot of backing from institutions – these institutions have to take it upon themselves to consolidate, regulate and promote it effectively. Made-in-Nigeria can re-brand itself to be a force in Africa and the world at large – things we export like beans, and agricultural items can be the main catalyst to achieving this. Authenticity, packaging/labeling and quality control will be the defining factors to its success. Happy Independence day Nigeria and remember to stay fresh in celebration.