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‘Made in Italy’: A badge of honour

Zivisai Chagaka
On the hectic streets of Zimbabwe today — from the high offices along Samora Machel Avenue in Harare to the dusty bush tracks in gold-rich scatterings across the country — the brand one wears or that one obvious gadget in your hand (or handbag), inevitably tells a story of who you are, your taste and even class. But that’s debate for another day.

It is well-documented that dressing well increases your performance and heightens others’ impressions of you. The same goes for what one eats: “eating healthy is like accomplishing a goal . . . (and) can help build our self-esteem,” a blog, Dehl Nutrition, says.

Zimbabwe, as many other countries in the developing world, is home and destination to many products and brands from around the world — both original and counterfeit. But a significant amount of these products are found on the second-hand market, especially clothing items, which have flooded the Zimbabwean market.

Nonetheless, it is the brand of whatever item one possesses or wears that will eventually lead to the different perceptions and comments on your person.

Italy, however, is one of the major source countries of exotic cuisine, including all manner of manufactured goods largely enjoyed in Zimbabwe — from pastas to its famous pizzas, from cultured wines to cheese. Its inimitable haute couture — the world famous Gucci, Prada, Dolce & Gabbana, Versace, Salvatore Ferragamo, to name a few — is an envy to many other global civilisations. Other products are also found in the textile, décor, automotive and furnishings and many other industrial products such as Milano (office furniture), Ferrari (cars), Givenchy (cosmetics), Pirelli (tyres), among others.

The popularity of these Italian products throughout the world is testament to excellence of Italian artisanship and manufacturing, shaped and perfected over centuries. And in a deliberate move to protect its unrivalled heritage, Italy launched the “Made in Italy” initiative, “an expression that recalls the image of high-quality Italian products throughout the world”.

“Made in Italy” is a platform of Italian manufacturers which promotes and certifies products of Italian origin. ITPI (Institute for the Protection of Italian Manufacturers) regulates the “Made in Italy” products and certify them for authenticity and origin, hence compliant products earn the “100% Made in Italy” badge. Only products totally made in Italy — from planning, manufacturing and packaging — are allowed to use the label “Made in Italy”.

Writing for Forbes magazine in 2019, Annalisa Girardi said: “. . . ‘Made in Italy’ has confirmed itself as a label granting fine quality, authenticity and a sense of style internationally praised. A growing number of entrepreneurs managed through the decades to create a brand of high value all over the world, mixing the iconic Italian aesthetics with technology and innovation. The worth of the ‘Made in Italy’ has granted many products prosperity in the markets, as it secured the solidity of the national economy.”

Italian embassy cultural attaché Massimo Amadeo says the “Made in Italy” concept is “an expression that recalls the image of high-quality Italian products throughout the world”.

“From footwear to prêt-à-porter (ready-to-wear), from bicycles to automobiles and, undoubtedly, excellent enogastronomic (food and wine) traditions, Italian products bearing the prestigious ‘Made in Italy’ title are highly-coveted the world over for their integrity and durability, design originality and creativity and for their distinct tastes and flavours,” Amadeo says.

He says there is no limit to what is produced under the “Made in Italy” endorsement, but is just a guarantee of the status and origin of internationally-recognised labels such as DOC (Denomination of Controlled Origin) wines, DOP (Denomination of Protected Origin) cheeses, among others, protected by licences and copyrights as an assurance of their uniqueness and exclusivity.

He says the producers themselves, together with various other organisations, work together to make sure the realisation, conception and origins of “Made in Italy” products. Other independent agencies check for quality, monitoring for adulterations and counterfeits.

According to BrandZ magazine, published by Kantar and WPP, Italian brands are exceptionally strong on the world stage, with 10 brands in the Top 30 with 90% or more of their exposure overseas in 2019 (a combination of revenue, volumes sold and profitability overseas). This allows them to broaden their potential audience base, spread their exposure to risk and capitalise on fast-growing markets.

“The strong presence of Italian brands overseas has contributed to the 14% growth of Italy’s Top 30 Most Valuable brands in a time of economic and political uncertainty for the country. 2019’s fastest riser Gucci stands strong as Italy’s most valuable brand after growing 50%, in a ranking flush with luxury brands,” the magazine’s Top 30 Most Valuable Italian Brands of 2019.

“While luxury brands are the largest category contributor to the ranking’s total value, the ranking comprises brands from a wide variety of categories, such as food and dairy, telecom providers, energy providers and car manufacturers.”

The top-10 enterprises listed then include Gucci (luxury), riding on top of the table followed by telecoms firm Tim, Enel (energy), Kinder (food and dairy), Ferrari (automotive) and Prada (luxury). There is also Eni in the oil and gas sector, Nutella (food and dairy), Generali (insurance) and Armani (luxury) wraps the list.

Many events and fairs have been held to promote the “Made in Italy” concept, Amadeo says, to familiarise interested entities and the general public about the initiative. Such initiatives frequently unite the character of the trade show with the cultural event, creating occasions to jump into the immense history and art of this Bel Paese (Beautiful Country), he adds.

Indeed, IndependentXtra will be bringing you interesting write-ups about this Mediterranean boiling pot: from its world-famous cuisine of pasta, pizza, cheese to its indulgent enogastronomic traditions.

As Amadeo says: “Many a tourist visit the peninsula exclusively to experience the world of ‘Made in Italy’: the exploration of the places where culture, industry, history, art and good taste result in unique and beloved cuisines and articles of design; and the exploration of the traditions and methods that lead to their creation. And, of course, hardly anyone can return home without taking with them at least one memento to remind them of their exciting discovery of ‘Made in Italy’.”

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