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.
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