That sounds like a monumental task, but here’s the deal: when we understand where the products come from that we purchase, there’s a much better relationship between buyer and seller. The seller learns better what the buyer wants and needs while the buyer understands what’s possible and what’s not.
I’m sure you all have seen this ad on social media, but I’m always struck by the sheer honesty and bravery of it. This guy speaks to what I loved about the garment industry in the 60s and 70s. And what I hate so much about it today.
The push to drive consumption and lower cost in the garment industry has a price of its own. See how we pay unseen costs for cheap goods, how we can fix it, and why it's time to rededicate ourselves to quality and craftmanship.
Posted by American Giant on Monday, September 30, 2019
He starts with:
I have been in and around the clothing industry for a long time. If you’ve been watching what’s happened over the last 20 to 30 years, what you’ve seen is a massive exodus of manufacturers not just in textiles but across all industries. We have thsi long tradition here of making really great clothing at incredible value and I feel like the industry has abondoned that. We’ve given up on those jobs, in many cases we’ve given up on those poeople and I think we’ve given up on quality.
For me, this was exemplified by Walt who has a farm, and one day he brought home some of the dried corn (they let it dry on the stalk so that it captures all the nutrients possible for animal feed), and we thought that we would put a few kernels in the nukorator and see if we could pop some corn. Of course, it didn’t work, but it was fun. So I took some of the ears and took off the kernels and ground it into a coarse meal. Walt is gluten intolerant, so I thought I would try some 100% cornbread. OMG – I had no idea. Because the meal was fresh (even though it was dried), the cornbread tasted so fabulous that it’s become a staple around our home.
Walt then brought home some sorghum and ground that up and make the most scrumptious porous pancakes that soak up the great home-made blackberry preserves we make from Walt’s crop of blackberries in the backyard. I leave it a little liquidy cause who wants preserves that stands on top of the biscuit. I want it to soak into every crevice and the biscuit is dripping with blackberry syrup and preserves!
The very act of being so close to the producers of these few products has so enhanced not only our food quality but also our appreciation for what’s possible and what’s not possible. Actually, I’ve learned that way more is possible than what’s not. At Walt’s farm, he also grows cotton. This has brought on another incredible understanding of the product. A company close to the farm has started a service whereby the pick, gin, and broker the cotton, take a percentage for their profit. The company has created a crop that heretofore could not have been produced in the high plains farming (the farmer’s outlay of the equipment, storage facility and brokering contacts was too expensive to make growing cotton profitable). But now this is profitable for the high-plains farmer. A crop that formerly was relegated to more southern climes is now a profitable and flourishing crop in the high-plains farm. As yet I haven’t been able to get my hands on any of the ginned cotton, but I would love to, and further into the spinning of the fiber and of course the weaving of the fabric.
Being disconnected to our products brings about all sorts of irrational thinking that boggles the mind:
We we don’t need farms, we can get our food at the grocery store.
We can buy all the clothes we want at these cheap prices.
There is an unlimited supply of really inexpensive clothing available to the consumer.
These all demonstrate the huge disconnect between products and consumers. This does a disservice to both, the consumer is ignorant about the source of their products, while the producers are ignorant of what the consumer wants and needs.
Learning about not only where they come from but the people who grow and produce our products not only brings about a better understanding of our products but a deep appreciation of them. Walking onto a farmer’s land, the first thing I noticed is that nothing was happening. They were fixing the equipment. So not only does the farmer have to plant the seed, learn about fertilizers that will grow the most profitable plant, learn how often to irrigate the plant (without killing it), learning when to harvest the plant (you simply do not send in the cotton-picking equipment – the plant has to be prepared first), then contracting the company to come harvest the plant at the right time. Then if you’re the company, you have to do all the scheduling right (southern farms first), make sure the plant is prepared (the cotton plant is killed after the bowls open making for easier picking),
I wish I could do a quick video of how good fabric is made and how food is produced, but I can’t. This guy isn’t going to be on the world’s wealthiest list. This guy isn’t going to make a killing at this business. This guy IS going to reduce the consumer’s contribution to the planet’s waste. This guy IS going to produce an item that is more economical for the consumer. And probably most important of all, this guy IS operating a company that gives back more than it takes. I wish I could do a quick video of how good fabric is made and how food is produced, but I can’t. About the best thing I’ve found so far is this wonderful video above, that makes me – the person who sews all her own clothes (and those for clients) – want to go out and purchase a garment from this company!
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