Just finished a wonderful “Playday” with some of my students. This is a time when we all bring all our projects including me and just exchange ideas and play and do….the most important thing is that we “invite the muse(s) in the door and she (they) play with us too!”
Mei on the left is finishing her chiffon dress that fits like a dream!!! She’s elated with the fit, while Lolly on the right is doing a jacket that is a combination of several looks combined to match her style! Notice how it matches in front (it’s hard to see, but it does)!
What I love about this is watching all my students express themselves. To see their creations not only go from idea to reality, but in a way that reflects their personalities and style.
Here’s the thing. They often get hung up on comparing their sewing with “industry standards”. When my students start comparing their work to RTW, they have this idealized view of what RTW is.
But when they are comparing their work, it’s like that have instant selective amnesia. All they think is that RTW is made like it’s couture or from the hand of a fine expert!!! It always amazes me that they can sew something up and compare it to some idealized version of RTW (some of them haven’t even seen anything that they are comparing it to), and think their sewing is a failure.
Here’s another conundrum. Some of my students fall for the “industry standards” line. Let me tell you compared to the photo above, which could easily be classified as industry standards, those standards are so slack, that pathetic techniques is a step up from industry standards comparing to what is in the stores today.
On top of this, going to the finer boutiques and department stores, won’t help much on quality assembly and components in the apparel. These folks have to compete with the big box retailers and mall stores too. Now, they’re not competing with their $7.99 to $49.99 pricing, but here’s the consumers’ thinking on this (and it’s born out by stats that support this train of thinking): If I go to the discount department store or the fast/cheap fashion store and it costs me $7.99 for a top, I shouldn’t have to pay over $100 for a top at the high-end boutique, when in reality it takes about $250 to bring that item to market with good assembly techniques and good apparel components. See, the reasoning? Consumers aren’t going to pay 30 times a bargain store price. They may pay 3 times or even up to 5 times, and even 12 times is a lot to pay. The point is that even though the high-end boutique is selling much more expensive clothing, the consumer pricing mentality is so warped that it extends into the high end boutiques and department stores.
Today, there are very few places that provide well-made clothing with good to excellent components, and that clothing is very expensive. Most of it isn’t in stores, and therefore doesn’t have to have a huge mark-up to support a physical facility. Another source is to have your clothes made, but even at that, it’s usually short-lived, because the seamstress is usually competing with third-world pay scale, and there’s no way that can be sustainable, much less profitable in the real world. Another source is the maison of the designer himself/herself. You have a garment custom made for you by a name designer for a very handsome price. Finally, the last source is to make it yourself.
And in the last category, what I find with my students is that they continually compare themselves to what a designer house would turn out, at a price that would be 125 to 500 times the price they would pay in a fast/cheap fashion store. Additionally the price they are paying (including their time) is like a joke it’s so low when they comparing to a comparable item which would be a designer house garment.
So let’s get a realistic grip on what’s going on here.
If you’re comparing your sewing work to that of Maison Chanel or Maison Vera Wang or even a local designer, and say you’ve spent $75 for a shirt (say it’s silk and it was REALLY expensive fabric), let’s compare that to something closer to what it IS rather than what it is NOT.
Cost of Garments
|Garment type||Sewist Cost||Cheap/Fast Fashion||Boutique||Designer Maison|
|Shirt(silk)||$ 75.00||$ 14.99||$ 125.00||$ 2,500.00|
|tee||$ 12.00||$ 7.99||$ 35.00||$ 550.00|
|Suit||$ 300.00||$ 75.00||$ 500.00||$ 50,000.00|
You can begin to see the difference here. Now if you want to have a cheap/fast fashion result, then let’s compare your sewing to that. In that case, you can slop through it, press the hell out of it (including steaming it to shape right because the sewing was so bad the shaping wasn’t right) – the buttons are cheapo buttons, the thread is dinky thread, and the fabric is the cheapest you could find at the store because it’s made with inferior yarn components and it’s woven so loosely that it almost evaporates on the bolt. In reality, you can NOT find fabric this cheap or thin or poorly made, because the fabric consumer won’t buy it. When you put your hand on the fabric, you can tell how poorly made it is.
Now that’s how you compare to “industry standards!”
The idea that high-end boutique or designer maison apparel is industry standards is ludicrous. First the boutique apparel is not as well made as it used to be as they have to compare to the same warped thinking developed, promoted and extolled by the fast/fashion stores, and the garments from the designer houses are a relic of the past, that is dying away. Don’t believe me? In 1946 , there were 106 couture houses. In 200 there were 18. The market for this work is quickly decreasing.
And if you’re going to compare your work to the designer houses, then let’s be serious and realistic about it and compare at the same price. Course, that really may be difficult, because not many of us have access to those clothes, much less know the pricing, but you can google them and find them used. Even at used, the pricing is very educational.
That’s not to say your sewing should be sloppy, poor quality or with inferior quality components. It’s to say that your fabric is most likely far better than what the fast fashion stores are using, and you’re sewing is much better than that fast/cheap fashion quality, so don’t sell yourself short.
In addition, what really blows your mind about this is the length of time you will wear this clothing. This is the real value. Currently I have 5 pairs of knit pants (including leggings) in my closet, one winter leggings, one summer leggins, one Baroque leggings, one green knit pants, one black boot-cut pants – that’s it. That’s all I need. That’s all I’m wearing. I use the black leggings under almost all my tops and wear the daylights out of them – like every day (except laundry day!!!). The Baroque pants are new, but the others have been there for 4 years! FOUR YEARS!!! And I’m not suffering. I just don’t need 5 pairs of black leggings – I only need one!
Yeah, this is a very economical way to live, but what I love is that I find the pants whenever I need them – I don’t have to filter though 25 or 15 or 10 pairs of pants to get to the ones I want. I only have 5 and they are right there. Also there’s something very empowering about being able to be in complete control of my closet. – I know what’s in there. I know what’s missing (uh-oh time to do the laundry!). And most of all I know what I need and most of the time what I don’t need. I don’t need more cr** to fill up my closet so I can’t find my clothes that I wear and love.
This is what my closet looks like and this is really what it says to me! I’m always culling out what I don’t wear and keeping it lean. It works for me and I love being able to find anything I want by just opening the doors and there it is!
I live this. That’s how and why I know it’s true. Cause believe me, it’s sounds like some sort of ludicrous fantasy! It’s not. I’m even shocked at the lifetime of my own clothes and sometimes when I take a suit out and think how many years I’ve had it, off the top of my head I’ll think 3 or 4, and remember that I wore it to my parents’ funeral 15 years ago! FIFTEEN YEARS!!!! That’s shocking to me! And my black suit is still good today.
So be realistic about your sewing – compare to what it really is – to designer boutique or designer house sewing – and then compare the price and lasting ability of the garment, and it becomes a no-brainer!
This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.