La fabrication de nos accessoires en Chine

Manufacturing of our accessories in China

Why have we chosen to manufacture some of our accessories in China?

A large proportion of Coucou Suzette accessories, such as acetate creations, transparent socks, pins and jewelry, are made in China. Although Chinese manufacturing is still struggling to shake off its bad reputation, it is a very good example to follow in many areas, and its know-how has nothing to envy our European countries.

Why manufacture in China?

A turquoise-blue eye, a dachshund with a lilac collar, a pearly daisy... Sound familiar? That’s right, these are some of the beloved bestsellers of Coucou Suzette, which made its name largely thanks to its cellulose acetate hair clips. To manufacture our acetate accessories, we chose China, and more specifically a manufacturer we've been working with since the very beginning. This choice quickly became obvious to us, as this country is known as the champion of acetate: manufacturers have great expertise in the field, they offer an infinite catalog of colors and textures, are capable of creating new ones according to need, and can produce all the craziest shapes of accessories. A great thing for Coucou Suzette, who has more than one idea in this area!

As for sheer socks and the more “complex” ones with hairy or glow-in-the-dark details, for example, Chinese manufacturers are also equipped with sophisticated technical machinery to produce them. Moreover, communication with them is very quick and easy: with the apps at our disposal and English as the international language, it's easy to develop our products by exchanging messages with supporting photos. It's more fluid and less informal than the e-mail communication we're used to, which can take several days. Last but not least, we also chose China because of the costs. Our aim is to keep prices as affordable as possible, while paying our manufacturers a fair wage.

How did we select our factories?

Our factories are all carefully selected for the quality of their work. Coucou Suzette began in 2016 with pins, then diversified with two main manufacturers: one specialized in cellulose acetate, the other in transparent socks. A lasting collaboration that led Juliette, brand's creator, and Clotilde, general manager, to visit them in 2023 (lien article blog). An unforgettable trip that allowed them to finally meet those who have been with Coucou Suzette since the very beginning, and to discover the wonderful factories where our creations are born. After years of working together and maintaining a constant dialogue, our valued partners are now a full part of the Coucou Suzette team. We're delighted to see them grow and create new jobs to meet our orders. Even though we have been able to observe first-hand the good working conditions of our employees, who work with adapted tools and equipment in safe, well-lit premises, we continue to monitor their well-being through ethical audits we plan annually.

As we grow and expand our projects, we also need to call on new manufacturers. Here again, we always seek to make the right choices, establishing long-term, trust-based links with factories whose know-how surpasses that found in France or Europe. We are aware that manufacturing in China forces us to import our products into France, which generates a carbon footprint linked to transport. To reduce this impact, we combine our deliveries as much as possible. We're also getting ahead of the game in the production of our creations, so that we can ship our stock by slow route (boat or train) and avoid flying.

Aren't there any alternatives in France or Europe?

Although many of our creations are made in France and Europe, such as our simple cotton socks, several sequined socks and our shirts, a large part of our production takes place in China

We've explored European and French options to repatriate our production, but none has been able to meet our manufacturing requirements. As for our cellulose acetate accessories, for example, the majority of European factories that can offer an aesthetic finish more or less similar to ours use a petroleum-based plastic, which is more harmful to the environment than cellulose acetate, and less resistant to breakage. Others use cellulose acetate, but specialize in spectacle frames, and don't offer the creative richness we need. Finally, a tiny proportion are actually able to create acetate accessories as complex as ours. So we decided to pursue one of these leads all the way with a French factory, and proceeded as we would have done with a new manufacturer in China: by supplying an original of our creations and a technical sheet so that they could reproduce the accessories as closely as possible.

Here's the result obtained with this French factory:

While far from bad in terms of quality, these tests did not meet our expectations. Communication didn't run smoothly, and production took significantly longer than with Chinese manufacturers. Aesthetics were also less pleasing. Last but not least, the prices were indisputable: the manufacturing cost alone is higher than the selling price we apply. Given that we have to add a number of costs to manufacturing costs, a barrette currently sold for €7 would rise to an average of €80, and our €15 clips would be around €150, with a peak of €218 for the Yorkshire clip.

As for the sheer socks, we have also conducted trials in Italy:

On the right, the transparent daisy sock as made by our Chinese manufacturer. On the left, the same sock made in Italy.  

The design is less precise, and the overall appearance less aesthetic. The quality wasn't conclusive either, as the material spun easily. All at a higher price again.

In a nutshell

As we all know, “made in China” raises questions. Although most of our favorite phones, computers and clothes come from China, we still have preconceived ideas about the “workshop of the world” in terms of production quality and working conditions. While these questions are legitimate, they should not disqualify the entire industry of a country rich in know-how.

Indeed, local requirements in terms of respect for working conditions have become considerably more stringent in recent years; while some abuses are well known in the fast-fashion industry, there are also many high-performance production factories whose employees work under good conditions and for decent wages. Thanks to its abundant labor force and the investments that China has benefited from since the early 2000s, it has preserved and enriched know-how that has not developed in other countries around the world. This is the case for cellulose acetate, with which we produce a large proportion of our creations (hair accessories, earring pendants, mirrors, rulers & combs). Last but not least, Chinese factories are also working to upgrade their production lines so that they pollute as little as possible, and thus gain a legitimate place on the international scene, which no longer compromises on ecological issues. Responsible “made in China” means supporting factories that are improving day by day, as well as benefiting from exceptional know-how. In short, manufacturing in China is a conscious decision, not a default choice: it's a well-thought will to turn to a country that combines a high-performance, responsive industry with an infinite, accessible creative field, enabling us to bring all our wildest ideas to life at an affordable price, to put a smile on your face every day through kitsch and colorful accessories!

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