Made in italy

Italy was the first country to launch the idea of a national brand. When Italy decided to launch the made in Italy as a brand, labels describing the provenance of a garment or item did not exist. The labels that did exist referred only to the names of designers or the company that represented a given fashion company or sartoria. It was Italy that invented the idea of “made in” that linked the object to a place and a geographic entity. And, of course, in Italy place is everything. Thanks to its ancient history, the roles of its cities and architecture, its works of art, the local history and geography of small towns and big cities and on which they draw for their local identity. These towns, the sites of sometimes unexpected beauty, hardly known even to the most seasoned tourist, are real treasures. In the post-WWII period, a period of economic and cultural reconstruction, Italy saw the launch of the “made in Italy.” This was made possible not only thanks to the great genius of Italian artists and entrepreneurs, but also thanks to the power of the media and important historical contingencies. The narrative that Italy told of itself in the years of economic boom and the post-war period still has today important resonances. It was achieved thanks to a synergy of genial minds from different sectors of Italian economic and cultural life, such as the arts, culture, science and technology. The strong ties forged Italy and the USA as a result of the Marshall Plan, the astute marketing strategies of Giovan Battista Giorgini who launched Italian fashion from his hometown of Florence, the quintessential symbol of the Renaissance splendor, and materialized through the fashion shows to which the most important foreign buyers and journalists were invited. But it was cinema and the role of the eternal city, theatre of the so-called Hollywood on the Tiber that were instrumental in launching Italian style to the world. These important factors have made a huge contribution to the concept of the made in Italy as a synonym of beauty, elegance and the art of good living. After a devastating war, Italy rose again again and succeeded in projecting the images of beauty and style that still today attract millions of foreigners and customers for the nation’s products. Italy succeeded thanks to a strong and effective communication campaign. The tactile experience of wearing a garment or possessing an item with the made in Italy label was translated into an experience of beauty and well being. The phenomenon Italy started was not only national but also global because following in Italy’s footsteps were several other national labels. This was quite a paradox if we think that we live in a post-national condition triggered by the notions of a non demarcated space in the internet. And yet, although in our digital age we are surrounded and bombarded by millions of images that we consume as we consume the fast food of global communication, the made in Italy label continues to have added value. It is like a nuance or a sexy accent to the language of style, a passport to elegance and distinction. But along with this kind of identity distinction the danger that countries gain and lose the aura that has been constructed around them arises. More precisely, in an epoch in which we are so immersed in information from infinite digital platforms, e-commerce, all possible apps, the fast paced development of technologies in all fields of abstract knowledge and lifestyles, it is even more crucial not only to communicate in an effective manner, but also to be able to nourish and support innovative projects, independent designers and artists as well as the megabrands that already know how to support themselves. Today’s consumer is more informed; the internet allows him/her to explore products in great detail. So then what is the future for the made in Italy? Certainly, more than ever, we have to look at all its nuances and fill it with content to avoid the risk that it becomes an empty slogan. The system and “planet” Italy must more than ever be supported, encouraged to grow new roots and establish an ever more dynamic relationship between tradition and innovation. The made in Italy in the 21st century necessitates teamwork, not individualism, campanilism and narcissism. The new made in Italy must marry the diffusion of its own language, l’italiano, and its objects and culture in order to live to the fullest the made in Italy experience. Indeed just as Starbucks has introduced Italian words into its coffee consumers’ lexicon because Italian is cool, we also are called on to develop a vocabulary of Italian style, its multiples uses, its domains and its technologies.

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