Archive for the ‘Deluxe’ Category

“Say What?”

Tuesday, January 11th, 2011

Tomas Maier

While I was pleased to see a deserving profile of Bottega Veneta’s designer Tomas Maier in the New Yorker last week, I was surprised by the glaring omission of an investigative report on the company’s questionable manufacturing practices. In 2008, Italian reporters for Rai 3 discovered and filmed undocumented Chinese workers making Bottega Veneta bags in a slum-of-a-workshop in the leather manufacturing region of Prato outside of Florence. The workers were paid just a few dollars a day—versus the $25 an hour Italian union workers earn—to do the intricate weave that is Bottega Veneta’s signature and its pride. At the time, Bottega Veneta’s spokesman stated that the work had been farmed out by one of its subcontractors and that the company didn’t know about it.

But there’s the hitch. Bottega Veneta likes to brag—as it did in the New Yorker article— that its products are produced at its home factory in Vincenza, Italy, by loving and
coddled artisans. In reality, it subcontracts, as is the case with all Gucci Group brands.
I witnessed this first hand when I visited Gucci’s manufacturing seat in Prato back in
2004, a scene I describe in my book Deluxe: after touring the main factory, I was taken across the street to one of the group’s many subcontractors, and there, craftsmen were making handbags for Stella McCartney, Alexander McQueen, Yves Saint Laurent and Gucci. I didn’t see Bottega Veneta that day. But Rai 3 did, on another day, in a filthy and illegal environment, and captured it on film. When Rai 3 broke the news, it landed on front pages around the world. The New Yorker, which prides itself on thorough reporting and extraordinary accuracy, should
have included this information in the piece. Without it, the story comes off as a puff job to suck up to advertisers—something we don’t normally expect from the New Yorker.
* A former highly-placed Bottega Veneta  employee, after reading this post, wrote to say that indeed the company uses subcontractors to produce its leather goods. “It’s really a pity the New Yorker article failed to mention it.”


Wednesday, October 13th, 2010

I’m still reeling from the Valentine (to put it politely) that the New York Times gave Tod’s owner Diego Della Valle this week. Since when did foreign correspondents do such blatant puff profiles of fashion figures in the pages of the daily? I thought those were the domain of T, at least during the Stefano Tonchi era. This is the second love letter Della Valle has received in the mainstream media about how he is the only one in the luxury business who has maintained his integrity, particularly when it comes to manufacturing; The New Yorker also did a similar one-sided take-out a couple of years ago. I guess the glare of advertising dollars blinds self-professed objective news publications as much as it does glossy fashion magazines now.

While I was researching my book, Deluxe: How Luxury Lost Its Luster, it took me exactly

24 hours in Hong Kong to find a manufacturer in China who specialized in

Deluxe How Luxury Lost Its Luster, by Dana Thomas

producing luxury brand handbags and to tour the factories. When I walked onto the factory floor, I was stupefied by the number of major brands—two dozen or more, I’d say—that were being produced there. Most were Italian, though there were a couple of Brits too, and most claimed publicly that everything was produced in their homeland by artisans. I find suspect anyone who crows loudly that their products are made by hand in Italy or France or Britain—as do the U.K. courts, which condemned Louis Vuitton for promoting a false image of this in its advertising campaign last summer.

What I do know is that I found some pretty shabbily made Tod’s shoes in the company’s high-design outlet store outside of Palm Springs, Calif. Unevenly cut leather, raw edges that weren’t even dyed, mangled seams, as if the shoe got stuck in a sewing machine—these were shoes that, according to The New Yorker at least, should have never passed Della Valle’s crack team of inspectors. Yet they did, and were for sale for $75 to $85—a quarter of what is obviously their over-inflated full retail price.

If those shoes were honestly made by hand by Italian craftsmen, there is no reason to boast about Italian craftsmanship. More importantly, there’s zero integrity in selling the rejects, at any price.

Le Monde cites Deluxe in item on Vuitton’s deceptive Ad campaign

Tuesday, June 1st, 2010

Louis Vuitton has been accused of false advertising. Two ads have been banned in the UK for being deceptive in how they portray the fabrication of their bags.  Thanks to the muckraking I did in Deluxe, the truth is out there and being picked up all the time- the luxury world is starting to sit up and take notice- you can’t claim “handmade” anymore without someone calling you out.  Unless you are actually doing what you say.

Deluxe reaches a Global Audience

Saturday, July 11th, 2009

Luxury in Communist Paradise

Wednesday, April 15th, 2009

Jessica Kizorek, of Two Parrots Productions, a video production company specializing in documentaries for non-profits, taking in “Deluxe” while in Cuba.