Above I attached a screenshot that I took from a shoe retailer’s website that describes their footwear as being “handmade” in Italy. And this is one of the thousands of examples where the seller will list or tag their item/product as handmade in order to justify the hefty price-tag.
A good lot of us who have visited stores of higher-end, luxury brands may have come across products that had the “Handmade in X country” on their label, assuming that the claim is legit because, well, the product is pricey and comes from a reputable brand. However, what the average consumer is unaware of is that nine out of ten times labeling products as handmade is nothing more than a marketing gimmick which people fall for over and over again.
You maybe wondering how come these companies are not sued to death for false advertising since they are bound by law to describe their items exactly as they are on the labels. And you may be right in assuming there are laws and regulations to prevent such things from happening. But every law has its loopholes and make no mistake, every company eventually finds ways to exploit those loopholes, enabling them to commit what we may consider illegal acts within the boundaries of said regulations. Such is the case in the fashion industry.
I am no expert on fashion industry regulations but from what I have gathered from discussions on the subject matter and reading what some honest retailers had to say, my understanding is that for a product to be considered handmade by the regulation, during any part of the production stage there has to be manual labor, handwork so to speak (have no idea if this explanation makes sense — hope it does). So what this means is you can machine-sew, say, a suit and then apply some minor finishing details by hand, like hand-sewing a buttonhole (only an example, not done in real life), and in the end have all the legal rights to call your product handmade.
Make no mistake, real handmade products created by professional artisans, people who are the masters of their craft, are rarely labeled as such and cost no less than thousands of dollars. Cheap or mid-end products cannot be handmade, it makes absolutely no sense from a business standpoint because manual labor is neither cost effective nor is time efficient for mass production.
The Shoe Snob, a favorite blogger of mine, happens to cover this topic in great detail and I would advise anyone to have a read of his piece too.