Two articles in this morning’s feed that were of interest on this subject, and both of the bemoan the lack of quality in clothes. (Click the pics below to go to the articles)
Part of the lack of quality in clothes, these days, is the lack of knowledge about quality of finely made garment. If you don’t have anything that’s quality to compare FCF (fast/cheap fashion) then how are you going to know what’s cheap and what’s quality? You won’t. This is exacerbated by the lack of knowledge about how a garment is assembled – anything having to do with sewing is so old-fashioned, out-dated, under-estimated, not-necessary and basically like collecting the garbage, we don’t know that much about it, and really don’t notice what the process is all about. We put the garbage out, fix a meal and buy a new garment with the same sort of thought about what happens to what we leave behind.
The part that’s really a mind-blower in all this, is that the REAL sustainable way to clothe yourself is with classic fashion. Talk about little waste afterwards – when you’re not throwing a garment away every 6 weeks, but every 6 years, it really cuts down on the waste. And here’s the kicker on this. That 6-year item…..it’s really not being thrown away, it’s being re-used, because it’s made so well, it can be re-used. So the reality is that it’s not being throw away every 6 years, it’s more like every 12 to 15 years, cutting down further on the waste (the second/third user isn’t having to purchase or get something over the lifetime of the used garment as much as the primary user).
Then there’s this article that asks:
How are these clothes so cheap? Who is losing money?
Exactly – who’s paying for the low-cost of these garments? How is this low price being extracted? Who’s NOT getting paid in the stream of production? Not only is this not-sustainable (in that the economic model doesn’t hold up year after year, decade after decade – it has to collapse), but also it’s not sustainable in human resource. Eventually employees have to be paid more – why?….because their cost of living increases and this means greater cost, and as the employees gather and are more united, the cost goes higher. As opposed to a crafts persons that not only develop relationships with their customers which withstands the slings and arrows of outrageous fashions and fortune.
Other interesting comments in the articles are:
It was clear that offshoring to the lowest wage economies was building to a catastrophe.
And another adds:
As one designer put it: ‘As soon as you go into production it will break your heart.’
So even as the designers who want to make sustainable clothes battle the economics of it, they are in as much a dilemma as the FCF industry. They try and fight the trend as much as they can, but with a consumer that not only doesn’t know that much about clothing assembly, much less the value and worth of quality assembled clothing, it’s very difficult to sell AND educate at the same time, especially when there is a premium price on some of this more sustainable garments. What’s really hard to understand is how less clothes is more beneficial and how longer lasting clothes beats the throw-away variety every day/month/year/decade!
For centuries – since the existence of a civilized community, mankind has dressed in garments that were either made well for him/her or made by him/her. It’s only been the last two decades that clothes have really transferred to a completely relegated class of workers. A mere 20 years is like a microscopic dot on the time graph as compared to the length of time of civilization, which begs the question: Not only how sustainable is the FCF model, but is this merely a play with folly, to return to a more sustainable clothing manufacturing model, or will is just collapse upon itself leaving the consumer high and dry, but in truth how practical considering the grand scheme of things, is this model.
As the consumers who fed the FCF grow up and go to work in offices and workplaces, they discover that the ripped-out, ill-fitting fashion of their childhood and college days, doesn’t work in the office or work environment, and if they’re smart they’ll change their look immediately. If they aren’t it will take a while, and if they don’t at all, they will be left behind. So as this consumer is searching for a more professional look, where do they go?…..what do they look for?…..how do they know what to choose and what not to choose? Because the FCF model has been so pervasive throughout the retail industry (even high-end department stores have had to succumb to the model, because if they don’t their stock will be consider irrelevant and they would die shortly), there is little, if any, available to examine, imitate or even learn from.
This unfortunately leaves us with a woefully uneducated consumer, and that will always be abused by marketers.
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