Made in USA, Swiss Made: Country of Origin Explained

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Header image: GORUCK GR1 Froning x Allegiance Supply

Whether we like to admit it or not, a product’s country of origin plays a big part in the way we perceive its quality, with the country of origin label reflecting its quality, reputation, and heritage. Saying something is “Made in the USA” automatically gives the item a high standard of craftsmanship, so it’s not surprising that many brands try to use this to their advantage.

GORUCK GR2 Waxed Woodland Camo 34L

So, what exactly does it take for an item to display its country of origin proudly? The answer to that isn’t as clear-cut as we would hope. Not all country of origin labels are created equal. Different products and industries have different standards and regulations for determining the origin of their goods. Some labels are stricter and more transparent than others, while others are vague and misleading.

Made in USA

The “Made in USA” label is regulated by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and has specific legal requirements. For a product to claim or advertise “Made in USA,” it must be “all or virtually all” made in the U.S. “All or virtually all” means that all significant parts and processing that go into the product must be of U.S. origin. For example, apparel and boot brand Origin USA proudly claims their Coronado Boot is “Made in America.” They can do this because not only is the boot assembled in the U.S., but they also source all its significant parts from the U.S. The upper leather and lining are made in Wisconsin, its Vibram rubber outsole is from Massachusetts, the woven laces are from North Carolina, its foam inner sole is from Missouri, the foam footbed is from Ohio, its brass eyelets are from Massachusetts, and its sewing thread is sourced from North Carolina.

Origin Coronado 6″ Boot

“Made” vs “Assembled”

The only part of the boot that isn’t sourced from the U.S. is its midsole, which comes from South America. But since it’s an insignificant part of the product, it passes the FTC requirements and can rightfully advertise its “Made in America” claim. The product’s total manufacturing cost also comes into play, including how much of the product’s total manufacturing costs can be assigned to U.S. parts and processing. Likewise, if a product comprises mostly imported parts but is fully assembled in the U.S., it can be labeled as “Assembled in U.S.A.”

Kuoe Kyoto Old Smith 90-007 Automatic

Wristwatches are an example of a product whose country of origin plays a heavy part in its marketing, but unfortunately, regulations here can be a bit more complex. Watches assembled in China but containing a Japanese-made Citizen Miyota movement can be labeled “Japanese Movement” or “Japan Movt” rather than Made in China. Seiko assembles its watches in Japan as well as internationally, with no discernible difference between them to indicate where they were built.

Citizen BJ8056-01E “Godzilla”

Swiss Made

When it comes to Swiss watches, things are a little more clear-cut, and for good reason.  Several studies have shown that the added value generated by the “Swiss Made” label can represent as much as 50% of the sale price for luxury items compared to similar goods from other origins. As you might expect, the coveted Swiss label is often abused and misused, which has the potential of damaging its credibility. Instead of relying on its movement alone to qualify for the “Swiss Made” label, a watch must meet a minimum of 60% of Swiss value, on top of having a Swiss movement cased up in Switzerland, technical development in Switzerland, and a final inspection by the manufacturer in Switzerland.

Monta Atlas GMT

As consumers, we should be aware of the meaning and implications of the country of origin labels we encounter and do our part in verifying the authenticity and accuracy of the claims. By doing so, we can make more informed and confident decisions about the products we decide to buy and support.

Serica 5303 COSC

Disclaimer: The information provided on this website does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice, nor does it purport to comment on or otherwise advise as to the legal standards for compliance with various laws; instead, all information, content, and materials available on this site are for general informational purposes only. Information on this website may not constitute the most up-to-date legal or other information.

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