As I wandered about the New York City garment district the other day, it broke my heart to see the changing times... fabric stores closing. A favorite designer fabric store now offering really low quality goods in place of the high quality fabrics they used to carry. Empty store fronts and scaled down to almost nothing factory operations...Ribbon and trim stores that were the staples of the US Garment industry empty. I used to wander there and get a tremendous vibe of this is the best sewing mecca of the world; it is all but gone.
Its changing times in the Fashion business. We are currently going through a rift in fashion which really hasn't been seen since World War II. At the time of World War II there were shortages of goods, especially silk, and rayon, the staples of 1930s fashion, and silk especially the staple of 1920s fashion. It was the "War Effort" to sacrifice and wear last years fashion, or buy fashion of inferior fabrication in the spirit of supporting the War Effort. The girls of the 40s were resourceful and sacrificing... and raised and lowered their hems to keep up!!! Did their knitting and crocheting to keep up... By the time the war was over, we had a whole new array of synthetic fabrics; nylon, crepe, acetate, and acrylic. Ingenious yes, but environmentally friendly NO!
What did not change, however, was the fine quality of American workmanship. The Garment Workers Union tag did mean something.... Made in USA meant something. Your garment was made by an incredibly trained expert in the area of fashion construction, AND the worker was paid a sustainable wage for making it.... Americans had less clothing but the clothing they did have lasted beyond the next trend, because the quality was so high... The landfills were not cluttered with the debris from "FAST FASHION" at that time. Interestingly the synthetics of the mid century garments were so well made that the fabrics for the most part wore well and lasted into this decade... just amazing really. They did not pill and last for 3 wears as the FAST FASHION of the garments made today.
The latest rift in fashion happened with the stock market crash of 2008.... I suppose corporate culture couldn't deal with the losses... and moved the garment industry out to Asia... They had been doing this for at least 10 years prior, but I do believe that post 2008 we did start to see the poor quality coming here... Dresses with $50 plus price tags with raw edges at the bottom edge, raw edge collars. Dresses that pilled after 3 wears. This is a whole new way of approaching the craft of sewing. Pattern making machines replacing the human eye... its why every dress is a sack with a waistline elastic these days. Computer generated textile design. Just examine the garish textile design of your dress fabrics.
Pardon me if I am cynical... The rift did happen, and we will only see those amazing Made in USA quality garments in a vintage collection. If any of you are wondering what is the buzz about vintage just try wearing it... Vintage is the next best thing to couture. So please do collect what is your favorite vintage items... its never coming back and will never again approach the heights we once had. Its also going up in value. A certain investment that is n
And please, don't buy the marketing image that big brands are selling... buy the clothing! And make sure its quality. Boycott China landfil clothing. Love yourself, and your planet.
There is a huge sustainability in vintage fabrics; Vintage clothing lasts and lasts... with the exception of some of the cotton poly goods, pilling is non existent. This clothing can be repaired, dry cleaned, laundered to looking new, great and original again. You literally wear it until you are done... not until the garment is done. The garment is NEVER done!
Yes, the steel zippers break; but any skilled sewer can easily replace it. In the event of a stain, today's stain removers are magical next to what was available back when the vintage garment was made... so stains remove rather easily... Vintage clothing does have the rare quality of sustainability.If you are just tired of your vintage garment, or it no longer fits you please do pass it along to someone you know. Just don't toss it. If you have no takers, please do send it to us... we will upcycle it, and save the earth some stress. Thats a promise!
For many reasons, you are not seeing garments with all rayon, all silk, all wool any longer. Some say it is to help with wrinkle problems, others say the added synthetics add durability; I personally think it has everything to do with cost and profit. I am always impressed with the incredible lasting beauty of the silks rayons and wools that we get that are, 30, 40, 50 years old! As compared to what is available today, you cannot compare. The vintage usually rules.
So let me ask... when your new shirt is trashed after 4 or 5 wears, what do you do with it? Donate it? Throw it out? Bring it back to H&M? (they allegedly collect their inferior fabrication clothing and"recycle it" )
Please read the fabrication tag... it matters to you, it matters to the earth! We want it to be around for our children.
We have all seen them...the glittery fast fashion mall stores, just burgeoning with new goods every other day.... straight from China...
We have all worn fast fashion... 3 launderings and wow, full of pilling... not ready for the donate pile... it is unwearable... worn, pilled.... so out to the dump... check out how the dump looks, with massive amounts of textile going into that dump. Virtually all of it is not eco friendly; we are talking polyester blends that are virtually made of some percentage of plastic (that is what polyester is) and so it will last hundreds of years in that dump, perhaps even longer...
Which brings me to this.... buy less... And pay careful attention to the content tags. Natural fiber products really do last and last.... Your natural fibers are linen, cotton, silk, wool. And do not accept a blend... The blends often lead to a garment that has huge pilling. I bought a coat a while back, by designer Cole Haan. I never looked at the fabrication tag thinking, well this is a DESIGNER coat; And it was my favorite winter coat.... until it started to pill terribly... before the end of that very season it looked ragged... Needless to say, I was very disappointed to have paid so much and gotten so little. When I checked the coat it was a blend... Wool and acrylic... pill ball time for certain. Not fair... it still hangs in my closet, because I don't want to send it to clutter a dump for 100 years... Any suggestions as to what to do with my coat? I'd really love to hear some! In the same class as my Cole Haan coat, is my Forever 21 coat... LOL, both of these coats have the same ragged pathetic look. The sad state of Fast Fashion.
Please shop responsibly.