Made in or Made how? Made in France and Perdième

Le drapeau français, symbole du Made in France

The 9th edition of MIF Expo , the Made in France Show , was held at Paris Expo Porte de Versailles from November 11 to 14, 2021. This annual event, launched in 2012, displays a clear and ambitious objective: “the promotion the know-how of companies of all sizes and from all sectors which have chosen Made in France1 . Perdième, a young French brand curious about French initiatives and innovations , visited the site. Like the 100,000 people who visited the exhibition over these 4 days, we met many small creators and large companies, among the 830 exhibitors 2 . An increase in attendance, compared to the 80,000 visitors and 570 exhibitors of the previous edition in 2019 3 . Figures which seem to demonstrate a growing interest among French consumers in products labeled blue-white-red . What better context to talk to you about Made in France in more detail? What exactly is “ Made in France ”? What do we call “ Frenchwashing ”? And why at Perdième, we opted for European rather than French manufacturing ?

The banner of the Salon du Made in France 2021

Made in France: what is it?

“Made in France”, a marking for products of French origin

The words “Made in”, or its French version “Made in”, is what we call a marking of origin or even an indication of origin. This is information that a company can write on the products it sells to inform the consumer about their manufacturing origin. “Made in France”, or its equivalent “Made in France”, is a marking used for goods of French origin.

The optional “Made in France” label for non-food goods

In Europe, indicating the origin of a product on its packaging is an obligation only for certain types of foodstuffs (fruits and vegetables, meat, fishery products, etc.) 4 , in compliance with health safety rules. For non-food products, it is optional. The manufacturer or distributor is completely free to include or not this data on their merchandise.

Products stamped Made in France

“Made in France”, a regulated and controlled claim

When a company decides to affix the label “Made in France” to its products, it does not need to first go through an external body which authorizes it to use this label. It can certainly make a request for Information on Made in France (IMF) 5 from the General Directorate of Customs and Indirect Duties to be supported in this process, but this is not an obligation. The indication “Made in France” is therefore what we call a commercial claim 6 , that is to say a purely declarative statement put forward to promote a product. Not to be confused with a labeling process which requires compliance with precise specifications validated by an independent certification body.

However, the company must ensure that it complies with the rules governing origin marking, that is to say:

  • the rules of the Consumer Code;
  • the non-preferential origin rules of the European Union Customs Code.

According to the Consumer Code, the claim “Made in France” or “Made in France” must be able to be justified at any time and must in no case mislead the consumer.
For their part, the customs rules of non-preferential origin define the criteria determining the “nationality” of a good, that is to say the country in which it was produced. The exercise is simple when this merchandise is manufactured exclusively from components coming from a single country and no processing has been applied to it outside this territory. We speak of a product “entirely obtained” in a single country. The matter becomes more complicated when a finished product comes from a succession of processing stages – raw materials, machining, assembly, packaging, etc. – which each takes place in a different country. In this case, it is stipulated that the final product originates from the country where it underwent its last substantial transformation.

In the event of non-compliance with these rules, the company may be sanctioned for deceptive commercial practices or deception as to origin. In France, control of the origin marking is entrusted to:

  • the General Directorate of Customs and Indirect Duties (DGDDI), i.e. French customs, which checks compliance of the “Made in France” label with European regulations during importation;
  • the Directorate General for Competition, Consumer Affairs and Fraud Control (DGCCRF), which inspects the labels of goods once the products are marketed on French soil.

“Made in France” does not mean 100% French

The last “substantial transformation” undergone by a commodity therefore makes it possible to determine its non-preferential origin when several countries are involved in its production chain. This notion is complex and depends on the type of product considered. In a simplified manner, a transformation can be qualified as substantial if:
  • it is part of a list of specific transformations legally defined for each type of product;
  • it constitutes a change in the tariff position of the product in the customs classification;
  • and/or it leads to an increase in the added value of the product 6 .
For example :
  • “a nightgown made in France from Indian fabrics can claim French origin, if all the operations following the cutting of the fabrics are carried out in France” 6 ;
  • “a piece of silver jewelry from Germany, processed in France, originates from the country from which the majority of the materials come from on the basis of value. This jewel will therefore be considered to originate from Germany although know-how operations are carried out in France” 7 .
Consequently, the fact that a product bears a “Made in France” label does not necessarily mean that it was entirely manufactured on French territory.

Frenchwashing or francolavage

Historically linked to issues of economic protectionism 8 , which has become both a sales 7 and campaign argument 9 , Made in France is on the rise. This valorization of origin is strongly correlated with a growing sensitivity of the French to this purchasing criterion, widely highlighted by surveys 10,11 . Faced with this enthusiasm among the general public, there is a strong temptation to use the famous term extensively, or even to abuse it 12 to the point of “ Frenchwashing ”. This is what FIMIF, the Independent Federation of Made in France, translates as “francolavage”, a “communication/marketing technique which aims to make the consumer believe, through mentions, allegations, logos and/or visuals, that a product is made in France when it is not” 13 . “French creation”, “Designed in Paris”, “the French touch”, a blue-white-red border, an image of the French flag, a visual of the tricolor rooster or a pictogram of France. Be careful of all these written or graphic elements which adorn many attractive packaging, but which in no way prove the claimed French origin of the products concerned.

The “Made in France” logo proposed by FIMIF The specimen of the “Made in France” logo offered for free download by FIMIF

Why Perdième does not make Made in France

Perdième underwear is made in Europe. They are imagined in Paris, in collaboration with international artists . Their manufacturing is carried out in Portugal. These are the reasons which motivate this choice.

A compromise between quality and costs

As with any business, the thorny question of costs and profitability is central. This is all the more true for the small, completely self-financed structure that is Perdième. What is particularly important to us is the quality of the products we offer. We choose high-end raw materials. This is the case, for example, of the microfiber used for all our sets, two to three times more expensive than that used by other menstrual lingerie brands. Less economical, but much more suited to highlighting the fine patterns of our creations, an emblematic element of the brand. However, we want to remain accessible to as many people as possible: menstrual panties are a real innovation that should be able to be tested by everyone. With French manufacturing, we should offer our menstrual panties at €60 each, instead of €39. In addition, as a young brand, we place orders whose volume is much lower than those of the big ready-to-wear brands, which costs us more proportionally. All this leads us to carefully consider all our expenditure items. Calling on Portuguese workers rather than French workers, with equal qualifications, halves our labor costs.

Quality Perdième menstrual lingerie

Know-how that can be mobilized within respectable deadlines

In France, very few workshops make lingerie from A to Z. If this is the case, they are therefore over-demanded. Order processing times are high, 6 to 9 months. They tend to favor large volumes, therefore big brands; small creators often come second. Looking for the same know-how nearby, we found Portugal, renowned for its expertise in the textile field, particularly in lingerie and corsetry. We have selected a family workshop where most of the employees have worked there for more than 20 years, which respects European legislation and ensures the well-being of its employees, in particular by providing fair remuneration.

Attention paid to “Made how” rather than “Made in”

The 100% tricolor is an uncommon reality, particularly in the textile industry. For example, most of the fibers or yarns used are not French. This is the case for cotton, the cultivation of which is almost non-existent in France. In this context, we do not wish to do “Made in France” at all costs, at the risk of participating in this phenomenon of francolavage. Some brands have their lingerie made outside the European Union and add a braid in France just to benefit from the name's notoriety. We prefer to pay attention to the way of producing. We collaborate and build trusted relationships with suppliers who possess ethics and know-how, even if they are just a few steps outside our borders.

If you would like to learn even more about Perdième and our values, do not hesitate to consult our articles about the genesis of the brand and our sales practice, or our interviews with our talented designers, Janine Lecour and Lucie Mouton .

Written by cd


  1. MIFEXPO. MIF Expo - The Made in France Show . Facebook.
  2. MIFEXPO. (2021, 24 november). MIFEXPO - The Made in France show - Exhibit .
  3. MIF 2019 - Back in pictures . (2020, 27 January). [Video]. Youtube.
  4. Buying a “Made in France” product: what guarantees?
  5. Obtain information on Made in France (IMF) . (the portal of the general directorate of customs and indirect rights).
  6. DGE. (2018, March). Made in France, the original marking guide .
  7. DGCCRF. Made in France: the new preferred purchasing criterion for the French .
  8. CNEWS. (2017, 19 september). What is the origin of the term “made in”? 
  9. Franceinfo . Presidential 2022: made in France, the fashionable show? (2021, 13 november).
  10. IFOP. The French and made in France - Wave 2018 . (2018, 14 september).
  11. OpinionWay. CP - Insign - The French and Made In France_Wave 2 - December 2020 .
  12. Scappaticci, E. (2017, 27 april). “Made in France” scams are increasing .
  13. FIMIF. (2021, November). Exclusive survey Marking of origin and francolavage .

Main photography credits: Photograph of the French flag fluttering in the wind, Le Grand Condé , CC BY-SA 3.0 , via Wikimedia Commons