eau des style biters
Feminists are impervious to advertising. I get it. Anyone who can differentiate the subject/object relationship of imagery knows better than to believe the fashion media’s drivel or to identify with the unattainable photoshopped emaciated or occasional left-field tokenism.
That doesn’t mean those of us who are well-heeled should trade our perks of feminine beauty for a walk in last summer’s birkenstocks or this year’s teva sandals in the name of peer-pressured shame. And those who wear cheap clothes out of rebellion, do you really understand whose pockets you are lining when you choose cheap? It’s the same people who are taking away your Planned Parenthood.
Lets take a step back and assess the big changes that were addressed in the industry recently: as response to fast fashion, we gave brands permission to show “Buy now, wear now” collections, in an effort to circumvent the style biters stealing our looks we paid to create. Speed to market, everyone agrees, is the key to the non-discerning consumer’s wallet. The result? Now Banana Republic has their bloody footprints on the CFDA runway, straight to NYC consumers from the mass grave of Bangladeshi women workers that nobody wants to talk about. Enter the next generation of designers and their ears perk up to follow the footsteps of what the dead dinosaurs tell them is how they should run their business.
Re-thinking The Fashion Calendar, is that really enough? What about the entire dysfunctional business model? As an industry, the business model we are expected to follow is Not Sustainable. I know that nobody wants to come out and address it, because anybody who experienced a small measure of success is probably hiding the bodies somewhere.
So, why does everybody do it this way? Mainly, I think it’s because a few sociopaths got a hold of the reins, and did whatever it took to make profits their number one objective. The biggest offenders of women’s rights are namely: Uniqlo, H&M, Forever 21, Banana Republic, and Urban Outfitters/Anthropologie. That would have been okay if we weren’t looking at forced slavery and a death toll in the tens of thousands. So as an act of public service, I would like to inform others, while it is Earth Month, what are erroneously called business practices which are actually huge mistakes if you are running a real business, and most importantly why they are not sustainable. If you call yourself a feminist, you should spot these malignant behaviors and whenever possible withdraw your consumer support.
Price Reductions: Not Sustainable. Everyone expects the price of an item of clothing to go down drastically within a short period of time. Why? If we are going to shop Sustainable fashion brands, we have to understand that the designers need to set their own standards, price based on sustainable fabric and labor costs (not market) and most importantly, the price must stay consistent. If an item of clothing is not worn or previously owned, if there is no damage to an item that cannot be repaired, the price should stay the same over any amount of time or it should even go up. Examples: a piece of artwork made by a visual artist goes up in value over time. Chanel handbag prices go up every year. Precious metals and gemstones have a consistent resale value. Until we protect the value of clothing, we are looking at business model for a global industry that is designed to self-destruct and disempower the women who make these pieces. Is a bargain that enslaves women worldwide really something you want to brag about?
Counterfeit Enablers: Not Sustainable. Whether you know it or not, if you’ve purchased an item of clothing or an accessory that does not have a designer’s name associated with it, you have most likely purchased an item of counterfeit goods. When you do that, you are enabling thieves who have such a low level of discernment, you can go ahead and assume that they have stolen wages from their workers, and lives from innocent families overseas. We need very visible designers who create their own point of view to oversee the process, because they are in the unique position to take responsibility for the work. When the work is stolen from a legitimate designer, that accountability goes out the window along with it.
The Legal System in America: Not Sustainable. Fashion designers’ work is not legally protected in the United States, which subsequently turns the creative process of American designers into a free public service. As a result, designers in the US cannot show their work in public or on social media without a feeding frenzy on their intellectual property by counterfeiters worldwide. Until this changes, we need privacy for our work, to show in intimate gatherings of people who are trustworthy and support the work financially, and we need to ask our friends, consumers, to boycott the frauds who cannibalize our work because we know right from wrong.
Overproduction: Not Sustainable. We get it, high volume sales are what drives profits. But for designers who go through the process and spend the money to make things one by one, the assumption that success or growth means big orders and meeting factory minimums simply does not add up. There’s an ongoing pressure to come up with more silhouettes, and provide an overabundance of size runs in every style, then turn out another new collection at lightning speed, but what does that actually accomplish? The pressure to make those manufacturers’ payments along with the misguided mass retailers’ endless price slashing is an automatic recipe for disaster. Sometimes one of something is enough.
Fast Fashion: Not Sustainable. Duh. We all know this by now, so why are we still doing this? Designers are so hurt by the aggressive market shares having taken over by fast fashion, that they are acting defenseless, and even trying to compete still. The problem with that is we can’t compete. We instead should take more time. The design process is creative, and deserves to be respected. There should be more time to develop the work, to create the work, and to allow others to take it in. Give us that time. Pre-order and wait for something specially created just for you. Then, you can proudly call yourself a feminist and brag about something you did to bring women workers more dignity worldwide.