The Savvy Sage of Sewing Stimulation

In This Morning’s Post….

….was a wealth of headlines made for sewists.  Oh, those poor people who can’t/won’t/don’t sew!!!!  They have such limited selections and it’s getting more limited!

Over on Financial Times, there’s the headline:  Zara Inditex Ramp Up Digital Assault.  For those of you who are new here, Inditex is a company owned by one of the wealthiest men
in the world.  Now, this begs the question, why is a person who sells fast/cheap fashion one of the wealthiest people in the world?  What is there about selling this discounted, ripped, ill-fitting clothing that is so profitable.  Isn’t this clothing supposed to be cheap?….then why would the owner make so much money?  Does that mean the clothing isn’t as cheap as it proports to be?  It’s interesting to go down this rabbit hole, because it’s very educational.  But that’s for another blog.  Back to Zara – apparently they are noticing that some of their sales are lagging, and the best way to keep up with this is a little razzle-dazzle (nothing new for Zara – switcheroo here, switcheroo there – what looks great on the model is only a hope and lost dream once you get home).   BTW, FT (Financial Times) is really quite nice, they don’t ask you to subscribe for a year, they only ask you to answer a few questions, and poof you get to see the article.

At H&M, another massive fast/cheap fashion retailer now has a problem that is probably going to be more of a problem as time goes on – over-stocking of cr*p and what do you do with junk when you can’t sell it,  you can’t even recycle it.  Theoretically, what makes Zara so devastatingly profitable in the clothes biz is that their supply chain is quicker than anyone on the planet.  But what happens when you reach the speed of light?  OK, that won’t happen, but my point is that finally it can only become so fast when the supply chain finally breaks and that’s it.

The speed of the supply chain is only one problem here.  The other is over-stocking is equally as worrisome.  If the new stock can’t be recycled, what happens to the stuff that is sold and worn, or at least is used because it’s not directly from the store?  I mean if the new stuff is bad, what happens to the stuff that ends up in consumers’ closet?  Where does that go?  It’s not new anymore, and if the new stuff is so bad that it can’t be recycled or isn’t, then how can the old or used or not-new be recycled and what happens to that stuff?  Talk about a black hole!

Continuing down this road, The Dangers of Fast Fashion & How You Can Make More Sustainable Shopping Choices takes us to a more reasonable and responsible shopping solution.  The problem is that being in a FCF whirling dervish (which was a dance that was done to spin you out of control!!!!), can do dis-orient the consumer (as well as the retailer), that when the whirling stops, it’s almost impossible to figure out where you are, much less what you want, where to go to purchase what you want and where even to start!  The beginning line of this article says it all:

Fast fashion is now the second-largest source of pollution globally.

Reading further will actually make you sick with statistics that should hopefully shock any self-respecting FCF shopper to go cold turkey!

Then another article takes is further down a more realistic road: In A Disposable Age, Luxury Is Something Old, Worn, and Beautiful, and ain’t it the truth.  We who sew, understand the beauty, comfort and actual joy in wearing something for years and even decades.  As a matter of fact, this was a lesson I learned early on in sewing.  I had made a beautiful Claude Montana jacket from Vogue 1849

Although it looks bigger than all get out, it fit me like a dream and it was so edgy fashionable without being weird, that I wanted another one about six months later.  I made it, but something was wrong.  It didn’t have the right feel or the right…..well….something. I couldn’t put my finger on it.  My mentor finally told me that clothes gain a certain patina or feel after you wear them, and give this new jacket about 6 months, and it would have the same feel.  She was right.  This is something lost on today’s consumer when the retail focus is on the amount of time (or lack of) from the manufacturer cutting out the garment to the store floor.  The idea of a garment would have a patina or even be better after multiple wearings, is a concept completely forgotten with a generation of consumers who have never know anything like this.   There is no way anyone in the last 30 years could experience this unless they are shopping couture shops in major metro areas, or they sew!

And finally going full circle, is using the tall person as an example of the market that is not served by the FCF or even RTW industry.  The fact is that not only tall people but most people are not served by the clothing retail industry.  The clothing would be too expensive for the manufacturer to produce, and so out-of-whack with the current thinking that the RTW and FCF industry has proported for three decades, that it’s like saying the Sun sets in the East and rises in the West – Huh?!  What?!  Yeah, exactly!  The truth is that clothing is made to fit model sizes, which comprise about 3% of the population.  In no other form of retailing (food, groceries, gasoline, heating, electricity, home mortgages, car mortgages and on and on) would the consumer be serviced so poorly.

Think about it:  would you want a home mortgage that was tailored to serve 3% of the home-mortgage population?….you wouldn’t stand for that for a minute.  Or how about buying a computer that worked for only 3% of consumers?  Only clothing manufacturers get away with that malarkey.

This leads us to the logical conclusion:  I Dropped $265 on a Dress at a Retail Showroom.  Here’s Why It Was A Deal!   These are dresses sold after a profile is built online, and there’s an actual discussion of what the clients actually want – shock of shocks!  Not only that, but the garment lasts more than one or two or three or four washings and is classic enough to be worn again and again.  With each wearing, the garment decreases in cost.  And with each wearing the garment increases the wearer’s savings.  The problem is that the initial cost is a major ouchie on the pocketbook.  What’s hard to see is that it’s only after 4 or 6 months that the value begins to sink in – waaaaaaay after the purchase.  At that point, the wearer is discussing with self: “Gee, I’m brilliant, this was really a great deal cause it goes with so much, and look it can go to this or that event and make me look really swell!”  This sort of feeling happens so far down the line after the purchase, that it’s almost impossible to gauge, much less quantify or have an inkling of a feeling at the point of sale.

When we are sewing, we are doing the very best we can.  We notice all the mistakes and correct them or mask them.  While we are doing this, we are increasing the durability, quality and the usefulness of the garment waaaaay outside anything most consumers have any access to.  Truly the only folks who have access to the kind of garments that we sewists make are the very wealthy who can afford to have Karl or Zac or Vera or Carolina make something for them.  These are made with such quality and care that it’s virtually not available to the regular Jane on the street.  It’s why so many designers are on the merry-go-round heading up old faded fashion houses throughout Europe.  It’s why a lot of designers only do couture, no RTW at all.

It’s also why we sewists are ahead of the curve.  We can not only sew fashions faster than the fastest Zara on a speeding-bullet train can have available, but we can make it so much better – more personal – more reflective of our style – more flattering to our shape.  This for me is the main plus of sewing my own wardrobe.  Yeah, there’s the savings, and that can’t be denied.  And yes, there’s the joy of the experience.  And there is joy here.  It’s the joy of envisioning something that starts as a few synapses in your brain and ends up a while later as a garment you can feel, touch, wear, use and most of all enjoy.  There is NOTHING that is a higher high than the joy of creating.   Getting my own way in how I dress is what brought me to sewing, but the creative process is what keeps me sewing.

And it’s nice to save money too!





  1. I agree with what you are preaching. However we have teenagers that want the look that is in style right now(!!!).
    Their concern is not how long a garment will last because they are looking ahead to see what is needed to be in trend for next season!

    I have tried to teach my granddaughter something about style and quality, but what do I know?? She has to get a few years older before I get smarter.

    Patience pays, I guess.

    • I know what you mean – you are fighting a whole media whose sole purpose is to sell something that is chic now. The younger a person is the more present they are and have little time for things that last, after all, they could grow out of them, next month! But don’t fret, cause your words do and will sink in, particularly if they are practiced by you. The day comes when suddenly they realize that they are spending a ton of $$$ on clothes and not getting very much. Usually, they get really smart when the $$$ comes out of their pocket. And this is not to diss them for what they are doing now, it’s simply how they think!

  2. How refreshing to redan article by someone who really understands how the Axis of fashion evil had takeover, not only RTW but the young minds offer children and grandchildren to the point that they really don’t know what good fit is, good style or lovely hand of fabric to name just a few.

    As for Facebook…I was never comfortable with that platform. I had an account with almost no personal info. I posted rarely but checked out fellow quilters work. I closed my account last week. Yes, I know it’s really not closed, per se, but I deactivated it. I discovered several years ago the actually closing your FB account isn’t possible. I thought I closed it but when I went to the site to just look at someone’s info and project Was greeted with Welcome back…mmmm. cookies?

    Thank you claire, for speaking up about this subject.

    • I know Marlette – I feel the same way. It’s heartbreaking to see how most people today dress for work. Sometimes, it’s a wonder that they even get recognized much less pulled aside for raises and promotions. My hope is that this sort dressing will come back. The pendulum does swing back and forth and although we’re still in the androgynous/ugly phase of Grunge, that will move away. The same as Grunge was a response to the opulence of the 80’s, the next movement will be a response to the Grunge era. The dilemma isn’t so much with the will of fashion to move, cause the will is out there. It’s that the Grunge, unbeknownst to itself or others, spawned a particularly addictive and heroin-like business model that has become so pervasive throughout the industry, it will take almost a fashion revolution to rid ourselves of it! But one thing is for certain and something that will never, ever change – so much so that it can be engraved into stone that will last forever, is the fact that “things change!” So change will come. It will be interesting to see how RTW and retail respond to this change. We as sewists – don’t have to worry so much about that part of it!

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