22 July 2007
NOT MADE IN CHINA
here i have to take issue with a subject that has been eating at me for quite some time now, and i know i am not the only one. here i am amidst the official year ten of my fashion design company. for those of you who know me, or have at least seen my work, you know how much of my life's blood has been poured into my work; in creativity, attention to details, and time. lots and lots of time.
now is a bit of a transition period for piper ewan, and there is a new project/company thrown in for good measure. in this i have been researching outside production. this is a very scary proposition. it involves letting go of a major part of what i have been doing, and doing for years. it has been taking its toll on me mentally and financially. mentally, because i am not sure that i want to compromise quality and sustainability. financially, because, well i cannot compromise on my prices.
my main complaint from people is my price point. most people like to tell me that they could never afford what i make. it is one thing from people who understand that i have to charge what i do (and also note that my prices are comparable to stores like anthropologie or bcbg), becasue of the time and attention to detail that each piece entails. it is quite another when people are so used to buying cheap clothing, that they automatically compare what i do to what they buy that is produced in china or some other third world country. this is because my designs are produced by me, and not made in china or some other third world country where labour is cheap and labour practices are unsustainable at best, and unconscionable at worst. i am not here to argue that one should not shop at target, forever 21 or anthropologie, but one should at least be aware of the costs of these cheap disposable clothing and household items. i don't particularly want to write a treatise on the loss of the manufacturing industry to the united states to third world countries, or the hidden effects of globalization on our everyday lives. you can look all of that up for yourself if you care to. the product that i produce is made to last; this is planned into the design of every garment i make. this is why i spend long periods of time in the design of every style for look and fit, and why i don't follow trend. i go for timeless or 'no time' with unidentifyable elements, so that garment isn't disposable. and while i cannot guarantee that the garment will last forever, it will last a long while, or at least can be repaired.
what i would like to call attention to is a loss of apreciation to things that are carefully made and built to last. i am really tired of the effects of instant gratification on society. being that i have a very modest income, i am forced to choose my purchases carefully. what has this done for my life? it has made me learn to make everything from scratch: food, clothes, hand-knits, quilts, art, home items. most of my luxury items are traded for, because this is the only way i can afford these things. i want to be able to use and repair the objectss i own; instead of throwing them away. why am i telling you this? because i want you to appreciate that this is what my business is built on, and this is the dilemma i end up facing as i have been researching production on product lines for two soon to be three clothing companies.
a couple of weeks ago, i was looking for sock manufacturers. did you know that there are very few american sock manufacturers? where are all the socks coming from? why, china, turkey and pakistan. not really a choice here. i can have a product produced cheaply in a third world country that i would try to avoid spening money on if it were someone else's product. or i could have a very superior product that is sustainably produced that is five times the cost. the clothing can still be produced locally, but again, the cost will be considerably higher than anything produced in china.
what i would like to promote here is a change of attitude. instead of thinking only about the immediate, what about the future? and what about doing what you can? my whole life is centered around doing what i can with limited resources. i may not always be able to buy local, but i do when i can. given the choice, i will support a friend's business over a chain store. i realize very well that this is not always feasible, but i do what i can. it involves just a little forethought, and to keep in mind just how the price of whatever you are considering for purchase came to be.