Provenance.

A word generally associated with wine or art.

It carries stuffy connotations of antiques TV programmes and grey haired opinionists. By dictionary definition, these associations are mostly arbitrary, but we hope you can see where we're coming from.

 

 

At a glance, where an item comes from can have as little or as much value as it's era of production. So why should anyone care? It seems that only when something is very old or handcrafted that its origin bears any secondary value. The region and era of an antique are a well-known integral factors in it's valuation. Anyone who's ever watched Antiques Roadshow would surely agree.

 

 

During our time at University, we were introduced to the topic of cultural identity. We were taught about the influencing cultural, religious and geographic factors that can be found within the design of a product. The best example we can give to explain this, given our country of origin, is whisky. Dependent on the surrounding fauna and it's specific distillery process, each spirit yields it's inherent flavours. A hundred miles can be the differentiating factor for a customer sipping their favourite malt in a bar on the other side of the world. In this circumstance, origin is everything.

 

 

Observing indigenous items, traditional garments or produce is arguably an effective measure of a regions best offerings. In terms of skill, ingenuity and resourcefulness, stereotypes only become-so for good reason. As part of the television series ''Handmade in Japan'', the BBC4 documentary showcased the dying trade of the Kimono. A diminishing but archetypal female attire, the documentary showcased the hand processes involved to make these traditional Japanese garments.

 

  

Watch 'Handmade In Japan' (28:55) Here

  

  

Considering more contemporary, less traditional products, we question the importance of provenance, if indeed there is any?
Homogonised design and manufacture has an undeniably 'diluting' affect. With decreasing cultural differentiation, mainstream international retailers offer little difference in the goods they offer. Observing global giants such as Ikea, Walmart or Amazon, the notion of provenance is a distant thought. After all, digital devices such as the iPad can work for anyone, anywhere, no matter the language.

 

Convenient and scalable, it's this globalised lineage that makes you wonder if we are all slowly becoming... the same.

  

 

 

You wonder if we're all slowly becoming... the same.

 

 

To counteract this globalisation, tendency for product locality is arguably emphasised. With relatively equal access to a worldwide market, evidence suggests that UK based consumers are showing an increased affinity towards local produce and items. In an article by Nielson US, a survey demonstrated the importance if an item was imported or made here in the UK. Sixty percent of participants rated provenance as a major purchasing factor. [1]

In relation to this market change, we conducted a similar survey in early 2017. In advance of our latest sunglasses collection we unearthed some interesting data from the segment of UK based survey participants. In our final phase of questions, we enquired about the importance of our products origin and if it influenced the purchasing decision. The results revealed that amongst the top four buying factors, ninety percent of the participants felt it was important that we make our own eyewear, in-house.

 

As a reaction to everyday, globally accessible items, the importance for locality in our goods is changing. Based on the evidence above, politics and economics are clearly influential factors. The statistics suggest provenance as a relevant purchasing decision has shifted once more. This data, alongside my personal belief, lead me to conclude that the provenance of our goods is indeed an important factor in contemporary design.
When executed well, the role of provenance has been detected in the purchasing criteria by UK consumers.

 

 

 


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