Ecology

What is Frenchwashing or “Francolavage”?

When it comes to selling a product or service brands get creative. Many use any possible way to make more money. Not all ways are honest though. There are methods which voluntary play to the fact that consumers not always have the time to search for information. Greenwashing is one of these examples where brands voluntary use green writing, half-true information or similar to claim being sustainable even they are not. But the same phenome exists when it comes to origins of products – as when it comes to Frenchwashing.

Frenchwashing explained

Made in France products assuring quality and promoting local production got a lot of positive publicity during the last years. Production in France is a guaranty for quality and local employment. France offers perfect work conditions and you do not need to question how people work. Hours, salary and social security are secured.

And there are companies who want to profit from this positive image. The problem: They do not produce in France. And for this they cannot write and claim to be “Made in France”. They got creative and started to “Frenchwash” by using similar words, expressions or symbols which you believe that they are made in France. This is legal, but not honest.

We want to show you to most common examples to help you to recognize Frenchwashing easily.

Wordings used to lead to wrong interpretation

If you just turn the words a bit, use words with a bit different meaning you are in a legal section, though voluntary misleading the consumer. Here you find a list of the most common ones used when Frenchwashing.

French touch

Elaborate in France

French know-how


French creation

Frenchy

French tradition

A la francais

Traditional manufacturing


French original product


Designed in France


Think in France


French company


French brand

None of these wording actually mean that a product is manufactured in France. Designed in France and made in China is absolutely possible. And yes a company can be based in France and manufacturer elsewhere – but here the goal is only to mislead.

Misleading symbols

But it is not only words which are used to mislead consumers but as well symbols or colours. If you think about France, what comes into your mind? The Eiffel Tower, the blue-white-red flag or maybe some big fashion brands? Exactly these symbols are also used to mislead.

Eiffel tower

Baguette

Hexagon

Beret, the traditional French hat

Rooster

French flag

Same counts for the colour-mix of blue, white and red. The usage of the traditional colours of the French flag makes us think of France. But these are just colours and no legal indication of where a product is made.

These brands play with your feelings and emotions. Symbols and colours will make you think of France automatically and this is their goal.

Words to trust in

Luckily there are as well the official and legally used words which ensure truly that products are made in France. These are the following:

Made in France

Manufactured in France


Produced in France


Assembled in France

These are the terms which are as well recognized from the customs and legally binding. If you buy a t-shirt on which it is written Made in France, you can be 100% sure that it is really manufactured in France.

Meaning of Made in France

Ok, one more problem. What does Made in France mean? Let’s look again on the t-shirt. Cotton made with a little embroidery.

So if the t-shirt comes from India and the embroidery is added in France, is this t-shirt Made in France? NO.

The definition of the “Made in” is fixed in the customs rules for all categories, so as well for textiles. These European rules say that the product is assembled in France adding a significant added value in the usage of the product. This transformation must impact the usage of the product.

Plus the customs code changes in this process.

a t-shirt made in France

So let’s again look on our t-shirt. We have no cotton (or very view) growing in France. So to have raw material until finished product made in France is impossible.

  • Cotton from India coming in rolls to France. (customs code of textile rolls) The tissue is coloured in France, cut and sewn to the shirt. Finally the embroidery is added. (customs code of T-shirt)  Clearly : Made in France
  • The t-shirt is manufactured in India and comes assembled to France. (customs code of T-shirt) Here only the embroidery is added. (customs code of T-shirt) Not made in France.

Keep in mind that the shirt does also without embroidery or a print is a t-shirt which can be worn the same way.

A different example: A shirt ready just no buttons yet. Only the buttons are added in France. This is not Made in France neither. It is a shirt before and stays with buttons.

The transformation in France must add a value to the product to be Made in France.

We believe this is what you would naturally understand as Made in France- but again this is not always what happens. Production overseas is cheaper though the brands want to French image and are ready to lie for that.

Labels to trust in

Further to the wording there are labels for the textile sector which allow you to be sure that products are truly made in France. For food or other goods there are different labels.

In the textile sector you have these 3 labels:

Origine France Garantie

This labels grants that at least 50% of the value of a product has been obtained in France. Means as well that the product obtains the essential characteristics in a French factory. This label exists for food as well- in that case at least 50% of ingredients must as well come from France.

EPV : Entreprise du Patrimoine Vivant

This labels was created by the French government in 2006. Not only it grants manufacturing in France but it can only be obtained from companies which own a special traditional know-how in France with which they produce. So here you find mostly labels and brands which exist in France since many years and which still produce in the same way. It is not only a label for origin but also to value the unique know-how.

France terre textile

This label is 100% specific to the textile sector and can only be obtained if 75% or more of the textile manufacturing was made in France. The full production chain is taking into account from the manufacturing of fibres, knitting and making the tissue to cutting, sewing and possible print or embroidery. Further obliges this label a sustainable approach which is as well evaluated if a company wants to obtain this label.

Pay attention towards Frenchwashing

To sum up: Please pay attention if you want to buy a product Made in France.

We know that you would like to have it easy when it comes to shopping. But as long as there are companies which are not honest about their manufacturing and where products come from, it is on the consumer to judge.

If you are not sure, ask the brand or the seller. Be curious and look behind the words, symbols and colours. Keep in mind that Frenchwashing exists!

Buying Made in France is awesome and you should get real Made in France products for your money!

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