Wednesday, September 14, 2011


The above pictured beret is made by Hills Hats, New Zealand. A nice beret (apart from an awful label associating the beret with bull fighting). The sewn-in label tells you it is made by "Hills hats Limited in New Zealand". The attached little brochure tells you it is "Hand Crafted in New Zealand".
Two weeks ago, when meeting with the director of Hills Hats (I was interested in adding Hills Berets to the South Pacific stock...), I learned that NZ made berets are actually made in Pakistan! The plain berets are shipped to NZ where Hills sew in the lining, add a label and a headband and, since this labour consists of 50% of the total labour performed to manufacture the beret, it is perfectly legal to say the end product is "Made in NZ"... Call me naive, but I was shocked!
Checking with a French beret manufacturer, I learned that this indeed is common practice (for some beret manufacturers). Most 'souvenir of Paris-berets' for example,  are Chinese made, but lined and embroidered in France and therefore "made" in France.
Looking further into the issue, the only thing that becomes clear is that "Country of Origin labeling" is very unclear! It differs from country to country and often creative language is used to mislead the customer. This article in Wikipedia is a good start for learning more. 
Some transparency for your piece of mind: the berets I sell through South Pacific Berets from Boinas Elosegui, Bonigor, the Fabrica Nacional de Sombreros, A. de Setti and TONAK come from where it says they come from (resp. Spain, Argentina, Uruguay, Italy and the Czech Republic) - no doubt about it! The berets I sell under the South Pacific Berets label are made by one of the oldest beret manufacturers in India and one of the large suppliers worldwide of military berets.
The few Hills berets I do sell are from NZ, 100%. They were made in the 1970's in Porirua on NZ's North Island.

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