Today is the day to wear your clothes inside out. Today is National Fashion Revolution Day.
I've never shied away from announcing that all my garments are handmade in Portland, made with Love, made with sweat-yes, but my own sweat, genuine passion and I will eventually pay myself liveable wages with this crazy dream I have (totally legit).
Have you ever wondered why a dress from a chain retailer can cost $22 but a locally made crop top $60?
Some may guffaw at the idea of paying such an outrageous price for a little top, it barely covers the torso after all... right? It's not wholly the fault of consumers who feel this way. Our culture has been conditioned to buy garments for our wardrobes without much thought beyond, "yeah I like that" or "I love that" and admit it, price point. We all want a good deal, which can result in more more more! We're so driven by cost in fact that ads proclaim the cheap prices you can get these garments for, not the lasting quality or ethical (or lack thereof) facts. These brands understand the American consumer so well (no offense).
As a designer and maker I understand the real expense of cheap and fast fashion and it's bad, real bad.
This isn't by any means an attempt to get you dear reader to purchase pieces from my line via a guilt trip, but rather a call to action to read labels and connect those labels with a human being that made it. Education is power. We are a well educated culture, information is everywhere and blasted at us all over the internet, and some stories relating to actual sweat shops that produce those $5 shirts, $15 shoes, $29.99 trench coats have been pretty prolific lately.As an independent designer, I could have my clothing made in China, Bangladesh or the Philippines for not only a nominal cost per garment, but I would have to perform little work to make it happen, get them to me surprising quickly, and I'd probably be rolling in the cash while still selling my garments for a "deal". This has never been a part of my business plan, because making money (while this is part of the goal of course) isn't the main reason I do what I do. In order to get garments created for a living wage and to make some profit as a designer requires these fashions to be at a higher price point (even the ones mass produced in an L.A. factory very quickly). There are so many designers that make clothing because they have to, it's in their veins, there's a personal connection they have to their collections, this is their art and to clothe those who appreciate that concept and adore their designs while making a difference is enough to keep doing it.
I am that designer. I make the pieces that are sold in my shop. From conception to execution it's all me baby. I'm not saying I wouldn't trust another human to help me when I blow up (this will happen, keep buying my stuff guys!) but it won't be a light decision and production would most likely remain in Portland.
Our goal as independent designers who create for the reasons aforementioned, is to help educate consumers and bring back the intimacy that dressing use to evoke. Invest in your closets, make those purchases last and express who you are as an individual through your style. Even if you'd rather blend in with the crowd, there's ethical fashion for that as well! With this you can be a leader, an innovator that this industry very much needs.
We cannot change what goes on in those factories abroad just yet, but we can change how we purchase here. That change should evoke more ethical practices abroad, because the demand will be there. If we start now, our children will have an entirely new understanding of dressing themselves and hopefully will not have to worry about a label because ethical, humane practices will be the norm.
In memory of those 1,129 beautiful lives lost at Rana Plaza, and all the others who still endure the unfair practices for the sake of cheap, disposable clothing.
Here are a couple links to articles that can better explain the tragedy there and what we as consumers can do to make a difference.