Kering Group Sued Over "Made in Italy" Eyewear Claims

Instagram - Gucci Eyewear Campaign 2017 - Screenshot - H 2017

According to a new lawsuit, eyewear for Gucci, YSL and Brioni is actually made (mostly) in China.

Along with designer emblems and fat price tags, a "Made in Italy" stamp on luxury eyewear from Gucci or YSL is often part of the appeal. However, according to a new lawsuit, that claim isn't entirely true. 

Selima Optique, an eyewear retailer that sells both its own custom styles as well as designer specs at its outposts in Santa Monica (at the Brentwood Country Mart), New York and Paris, filed a lawsuit in Manhattan's federal court alleging that the Kering Group falsely advertises its eyewear as an Italian export, when in fact, Kering Eyewear (which was created in 2016 to bring manufacturing in-house, and handles the production for brands Gucci, YSL, Brioni, Alexander McQueen, Balenciaga and more) outsources part of the production to facilities in China. 

"In truth, Defendants’ products, or substantially all parts of their products, are made in China, and (at best) shipped to Italy for final assembly and packaging, and then exported," reads the lawsuit, filed early last week and first reported on by The Fashion Law. Even if parts of the eyewear were assembled in Italy, the "Made in Italy" claim would still be in violation of a strict Italian law passed in 2009 which sought to protect the reputation of Italian luxury goods by mandating that "only products entirely made in Italy (planning, manufacturing and packaging) are allowed to use the label 'Made in Italy.'"

Selima Optique called the mislabeling a "deceitful bait-and-switch scheme" at the expense of wholesale customers and retail consumers "who pay a premium for Italian-made products." In addition to the physical "Made in Italy" stamps, the plaintiffs call out Kering Group's various advertisements and promotions which also "falsely" promote the 100 percent Italian-made claims.

Kering Group released the following statement to The Hollywood Reporter: “Kering Eyewear denies all allegations made by Selima Optique, Inc. Kering Eyewear luxury products are made in Italy and are labeled in compliance with all applicable law.”

Selima Optique is suing over a hush-hush practice that is fairly widespread in luxury manufacturing, where production is often done in markets with favorable labor costs, then items are finished in Italy or France to allow for labeling that confers a certain prestige. The company has asked the court to allow all affected parties — including Kering Eyewear's domestic competitors, wholesalers like Selima and retail consumers — to join the suit and share the monetary settlement.