Category Archives: Fashion Theory

Black Friday Fury

Black-Friday-Phone-Deals

As the majority of Americans desperately search for the best post-Thanksgiving bargain, trampling fellow frugal fiends to be the first to grab branded merchandise at offensively discounted prices like 80% off, the UK celebrates “Buy Nothing Day.” This anti-spending movement combats the gluttony spill over from Thursday’s calorie intake to Friday’s credit card limits that has become “tradition” in so many American households. While in reality this is not expected to take hold in the US, at least there is the gaining movement of Small Business Saturday, encouraging consumers to support their local community if they are going to participate in Black Friday douchebaggery, I mean, debauchery.

Despite these efforts, the fact remains that consumer demand for cheap is causing mass destruction. The current Black Friday Death Count reports 7 deaths and 90 injuries to date, including instances of people being trampled to death, stabbed, and even shot. Devastating…disgusting…dismal, but it doesn’t even breach the surface of the monumental devastation that is derived from this insane demand. As retailers are forced to keep up with competitors, slashing prices to accommodate the insatiable consumer drive for cheap and available goods, the true cost is in the livelihood of the workers who actually make the products.

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“The downward spiral of cheap clothing has led to a situation where the people who make our clothes are paid starvation wages and can’t afford to eat or to feed their children. This has to end.” said Anna McMullen, author of “Shop ‘Til They Drop,” a report studying the widespread factory faintings that have been plaguing the Cambodian factory industry in recent years. The report is an in-depth study of the factors contributing to these widespread faintings (up to 300 workers collapsing at one time on factory floors), with findings reporting extreme malnutrition of workers and an analysis as to why this is so. It’s no surprise the variety of factors triggering these faintings include poor working conditions such as overheating, exhaustion from working overtime with no breaks, no access to water, chemical exposure, etc., but the underlying nutritional deficit was the fundamental cause.

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The report gathered data that showed Cambodian factory workers consume less than half the recommended amount for a diet suitable for their 10 hour day of industrial work. The reason why lies in the incredibly low wages they are forced to accept as payment for their tireless work:

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You aren’t doing it directly, but if you play into the buy-cheap-buy-more milieu, you are just as bad as the unremorseful woman who stabbed innocent strangers for the last Xbox. Every time you decide to buy a cheap trend from a chain retailer, you are showing that a cheap find is more important than a human’s well being, like these Cambodian garment workers.

Don’t let the %off sale signs blindside you, be cognizant of your actions – if a price seems “too good to be true,” it most likely is. Don’t buy superfluous objects just to fill a stocking, make something from the heart or go downtown and support your local artists. Don’t buy into the Black Friday Fury.

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On The Brink of American Made Matters® Day – Nov 19th

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Why does buying “American Made” products matter?

Let’s take a look at some stats:

  • According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are 5.1 million fewer American manufacturing jobs now than at the start of 2001
  • According to ABC News, if consumers spent 1% more on American made products, it would create 200,000 additional jobs, 5% it would create 1,000,000 jobs
  • According to the Manufacturing Institute, manufacturing supports an estimated 12 million jobs in the US. This number was more than 19 million in 1978.
  • According to the Los Angeles Times, every factory job added creates three additional jobs. Other estimates are as high as five additional jobs. This is more powerful than any other segment of our economy.
These are just a few of the many facts provided by the American Made Matters® (AMM) website, www.AmericanMadeMatters.com, an organization dedicated to educating consumers on the importance of buying Made In USA products.
With a current Facebook fan base of over 19,000 and a collection of well over 100 Made in USA brands as members, AMM is a leading pioneer in the Made In American Movement. In an effort to expand their cause, they created American Made Matters® day, encouraging consumers through social media avenues to dedicate that day to buying American,
On November 19th, 2013 we’re encouraging consumers to buy at least one American Made product…Our hope is that consumers will see how easy it is to buy made in USA and begin checking tags and looking for the American Made Matters logo when shopping this holiday season and throughout the year. Share your American made finds by tagging American Made Matters or using hashtag #AMMDay2013.  (AMMD Facebook page)

As a fashion theorist/journalist and style writer dedicated ethical production practices, I am a huge proponent of American Made fashion brands – and am sympathetic to their agony over finding manufacturing solutions on American soil. This particular Tedx talk tugs on the heart strings, and gives a real life example of the tough struggle presented to those who try to keep their garment production in the US:

During 2012, America exported $22.6 billion in textiles and apparel and imported $100.93 billion (according to the U.S. International Trade Administration), it’s time for this to change. I talk a lot about supporting the American Fashion industry, see my article about the decline of the NYC garment district in this months issue of NYC magazine Inside Hell’s Kitchen here: page 12, bottom left. There are a few initiatives set in place to revamp the American garment manufacturing industry, planning to upgrade the current factories in the NYC garment district and providing scholarships for emerging designers to use some studios in the area for workrooms and showrooms, but that isn’t enough.

#AMMDay2013 has inspired me to turn up the volume on my voice against offshore apparel manufacturing. I want to get in the faces of “American” brands like Banana Republic, Tommy Hilfiger, Hugo Boss, Brooks Brothers, Abercrombie & Fitch, Nike, Nordstrom and Lands’ End who use large Chinese factories for most of their production. I want the CFDA (the Council of Fashion Designers of America) to do MORE than just give out lifetime achievement awards, I want them to care about the American Fashion industry, I want them to help emerging designers, even those who aren’t in the hot areas of NY or LA – I want the American Dream back.

american_made2So, for American Made Matters Day, I plan to dedicate the day to speaking out, exposing those “American” fashion brands we know so well for their unAmerican business practices, as well as showcasing and thanking the revolutionary pioneers dedicated to keeping their brand exclusively Made In USA.

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Transparency Tuesday – Wits + Beaux – Expressive Men’s Accessories Made In NYC

Wits + Beaux – a men’s sock, bow tie, and pocket square e-commerce company – has an honorable dedication to supporting American manufacturing; all of the production processes of their brilliantly colorful, expressive menswear accessories are conducted in The Garment District of New York City. For Transparency Tuesday, I.F. takes a behind-the-scens look at this NYC start up brand who puts quality and high design at the forefront of their business model.

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Wits + Beaux Merch

In a time when large fashion corporations outsource their production to factories abroad where labor is cheap, small start up companies like Wits + Beaux  are rethinking the way the supply chain has been circulating and realizing the benefits of having production be local.  An honorable anomaly in the world of American fashion brands, Wits + Beaux makes it a priority to support the movement for keeping manufacturing in The States – a movement that has seen a resurgence in the small business community with the help of platforms such as Makers Row, but still has yet to fully take hold. As the insatiable fast-fashion consumer hunger for new fashion products continues to drive companies to stock new merchandise on the shelves more and more often, the focus remains on finding the cheapest labor possible to keep prices low, rather than having quality pieces.

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Wits + Beaux Intsagram

Luckily, there are pioneers for change like Wits + Beauxwho value the artisanal craftsmanship that can be found in one’s local community, and who believe that quality takes precedence over expense. With the amount of dedication and attention to detail the New York based team of Wits + Beaux puts into the designing of each piece, finding expert artisans to work with and discuss materials, patterns and design was extremely important. By working with The Garment District, the team could easily converse with and visit the workshop where the production took place. They were able to discuss with the experts, in person, how to make certain engineering aspects of their products possible. (Check out the video where the Wits + Beaux team discuss their use of the NYC garment district: http://kck.st/18A4az3)

The collaboration has led to a series of unique features that have become the trademark of  Wits + Beaux design including a unique stitching technique – seamless on the tips, an elastic arch support eliminating bunching, and an few extra inches in height, ensuring a day long wear without having to hike up fallen socks.

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Wits + Beaux Intsagram

Wits + Beaux’s inspiring dedication to keeping production at home  is equally matched with a passion for providing the fashion forward male consumer with “expressive” accessories. Which, for now, at the beginning stages of the brand, includes brightly designed, high quality sock wear, bow ties and pocket squares. As the website explains,

“Wits + Beaux was born from a singular quest – finding a well-made, unconventional and expressive pair of affordable socks. From that seed grew a dream to create a virtual men’s accessories boutique and cultivate a community of like-minded individuals who want more than just a shopping cart to fill; they want an experience. Our customer wants to engage in the design process as much as be inspired by the latest trends of the season.”

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Wits + Beaux Instagram

Fun, witty, friendly, and personable with a pinch of edginess is the perfect way to describe the voice of the brand, with the origin of the brand’s name perfectly corresponding with the mantra,

“’Wits’ and ‘Beaux’ are nicknames from early nineteenth century, Regency-Era England—known for distinctive trends in fashion and culture. We were intrigued by the contrast of these terms to the modern, technology-driven vision we had for our business. ‘Wits’, as they were known, were the poets, orators, and politicians of their time. The ‘Beaux’ were the trend-setting gentlemen of fashion. So, with a tip of our hats to this rich history of sophisticated and stylish gentlemen, we hope you enjoy the smart, superbly designed and crafted men’s accessories Wits + Beaux brings you without having to have a royal checkbook or a horse-drawn carriage to get them!”

Wits + Beaux invites men to a unique shopping experience while still relaxing in the comfort of their own home. This will soon become even more unique of an experience with the addition of the “Design Your Own” feature which is set in motion to be added to the platform soon. Customers will be able to easily customize their products by selecting the pattern and color to make their very own, original design.

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Wits + Beaux Instagram

I.F. commends Wits + Beaux for thinking critically about their business practices from the very get go and putting an emphasis on quality over quantity – high design over cheap trends.  Another A+, and we wish Wits + Beaux luck with the expansion of the brand and getting backed for another round of inventory for holiday! Support Wits + Beaux today by clicking here!

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Foes and Follies of Fashion Week – A Technology Takeover

With the close of the major fashion weeks upon us, and a solid month of nonstop collections in our rearview, there is a lot to digest. One thing is for certain, technology and social media are seriously changing the dynamic of Fashion Week  – A Technology Takeover.

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Anna Wintour Waiting For the Start of Marc Jacobs

Without physically attending, one could get a front row view of the shows in real time, get VIP access to the backstage, and see outfits worn by the fashion elite attendees including Anna Wintour and Kate Moss. While you are basking in the glory of never having to leave your sofa to be a part of the clearly glamorous events, you would never guess that secretly, designers are pulling out their hair – cracking under the pressure of trying to satisfy the insatiable thirst for constant newness that has, with the help of technology, picked up to a ferocious speed, causing a whirlwind in its wake.

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Backstage – Victoria Beckham

The Designer’s Demise

What was once a reasonable 4 season collection per year expectation for designers has, with the inclusion of men’s wear, resort, prefall, and a couple of promotional shows around Asia, become a norm of about 10. That is a new collection almost every month. Designers, including Alber Elbaz of Lanvin, were quoted saying  that they no longer have time to go on inspirational outings. How can we expect them to keep creating when they have no time to take a breath from one collection before diving into the next? We have seen designers drown in the fast paced fashion current before (think of the John Galliano breakdown and the suicide of Alexander McQueen, RIP) yet the push for constant newness continues to grow ever more fervent.

Between the various social media networks of the designers themselves and all the fashion blogs, newsletters, magazines, pages, and websites dedicated to giving their fans 24/7 instant updates, the never-before-seen designs at these shows are immediately transported to anyone with access to the internet. Once the looks actually get into the retail stores, they have become old news. This is especially true since fast fashion stores like Zara, Forever 21, and H&M have the ability to knock off these looks simply by having access to these images. By using cheap fabrics, intimidation design techniques, and assembly-line factory work, these stores are able to provide the same look, for cheap and much faster than the real designers.

An i for an eye

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Fashion show images are getting dispersed so quickly that it only whets the thirst for MORE fashion, rather than quenching it. With designers, fashion editors and bloggers dedicated to having the most up-to-date, inclusive and exclusive, images for their social media sites, there was an undertone of distraction as people seemed to only be paying half of their attention to what was going on around them, and the rest on their device.

This becomes even more unnerving remembering a wonderful interview conducted by The Business of Fashion with Lighting Designer and Show Producer, Thierry Dreyfus. In it, Dreyfus discusses the importance of a perfectly executed lighting scheme of a fashion show, how he communicates with designers for weeks beforehand about the feel of the collection, and how he personally positions all the lighting for the event. Seeing the sea of little rectangle boxes of glowing light as attendees hold up their devices, trying to capture the looks via Polyvore, Instagram, Pinterest, and Facebook really makes one wonder how much is being taken away from the experience of the live show because everyone’s focus is in the cloud. On top of that, as was the case last year, many chose to hold up their device to capture the finale, rather than applaud the work of the designer. Not polite.

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Oh, Look At All the Lovely People

Overcrowded with attendees and designers alike, there was a common complaint that too many shows were constricting people’s ability to appreciate the collections. This was particularly true for New York Fashion Week, where the venue, Lincoln Center was nearly bursting at the seams to accommodate the fashion elite. A few smart designers actually found alternate space for their shows – including Marc Jacobs who showed at the 69th Regiment Armory and Jason Wu who showed at 82MERCER.

Crowds swarmed outside venues with photographers and bloggers taking pictures of street style for their blogs and social media sites. Designers and editors were annoyed. Renowned designer and President of the CFDA, Diane Von Furstenburg even made an off-hand comment that in the future, Fashion Week may become completely digitalized – no physical attendance required.

What would the world look like if that actually did come to fruition? Would designers still be required to show on a specific date at a given place? If so, how do you keep people from crowding the streets to see a first glimpse? And who gets to go, and who decides who gets to go? If not, then designers could potentially film their show whenever they wanted, taking some pressure off – but how could a fashion week exist without critics and fans getting together and seeing the designs in the ambience set by the designer.

No matter how you look at it, with the increased demand for NEW fashion, NOW, technology has been seriously reshaping the mold of fashion week. In order to take it back, fashion councils may be forced to change the dynamic of the show which would cause an inevitable loss of meaning and context of the collections, and isn’t that the whole point of a fashion show? How do we solve this conundrum?

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Primark’s Mark on UK Youth

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Broadly speaking, fashion can be divided into two separate industries. Firstly there is High Fashion: the big name designers, haute couture clothing, and celebrities that epitomise the fashion looks. High Fashion is only a small part of the fashion world, the majority is the Grass Roots of fashion. This is reality, the normal, and the every day fashion of consumers.

High fashion is trying to sell an ideal of what we should look like, and what we should buy. In order to make more money this ideal changes rapidly and often. There’s nothing wrong with that per se, as this is part of the fashion industry: it’s meant to make money.

One of the problems that grass roots fashion faces is that because this ideal changes so frequently, it becomes more expensive to mass produce garments and get them to the consumers before they go out of style and the ideal changes again.

This is where the bargain store super giants come in. In the UK you have Primark as the market leader for the latest fashion trends at an almost irresistible price (very rarely does an item of clothing breach the £15 mark). According to their own website it can take as little as 6 weeks for the trend to be recognised and then be available in their stores. Primark state that they keep the costs low with bulk buying stock and relying on word-of-mouth advertising.

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Primark, or Primarni as it is sometimes referred to, is the go to shop for many young adults in the UK, as the price point is low and young adults have the one of the highest rates of fashion consumption.

Young adults in general, but specifically teenagers and pre teens, are one of the main targets for Primark as a business. Most are at the age of discovering who they are and how they fit in the world, they have a disposable but quite limited income – pocket money or part time jobs, and no major expenditure as often living with parents while they are at school. Another major attraction of Primark is that because of the low prices, it’s possible to create whole looks and wardrobes for a fraction of the price of their style competitors in the UK (H&M, Topshop, River Island, to name a few). This ability to purchase a large quantity of clothes serves to make these young shoppers feel more independent, which in turn makes them feel even more connected to the experience as learning independence and doing things without parental controls is a big part of growing up.

Primark Oxford Street

Due to the mass production of styles and garments, at a price a lot of teenagers can afford, means that whole groups of friends wear similar clothes from the same shop, creating their own high street trends. This means that Primark is effectively creating their own trend, which attracts more consumers due to the availability and the low cost of the products.

Of course this isn’t to say that the youth of the UK is blindly purchasing whatever is put in front of them, driven only by consumer need. The way clothing shops are accessed in the UK market has part to play in how teenagers shop.

Almost all clothing shops in the UK will be found on the high street of the town or city, much like Oxford Street in London. This high street may have stemmed from the original town centre, sometimes dating back hundreds of years. These high streets are often pedestrian only areas with good public transport links. Put this together, and you can see that teenagers often go for shopping trips with friends, but without adults as they can make their own way there. Once at the high street, it is much like visiting a mall: all the shops are close together, with food and restrooms nearby.

These unsupervised trips with friends are pivotal moments for the individuals involved. It helps them to build their look and identity based on the opinions of the people they are with. These opinions are the most important to them, as they affect their ability to belong and connect with the people they want to. One of the most fundamental parts of growing up is learning how to be part of society and to feel connected. What Primark is enabling is a way for these teenagers to feel like they belong, whilst also securing a large number of repeat customers.

 

I can get 5 shirts at Forever 21 for the same price as 1 shirt from an independent designer, why bother buying indie?

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Yes, it’s true that trendy looks can be found for super cheap at fast fashion stores and large chain retailers like Forever 21, Zara, and H&M. However, it is important to think about what is being perpetuated when people choose to give their money to these types of retailers over supporting more small time, independent designers. Fast fashion and large chain store retailers are focused on one thing and one thing only: the bottom line. Getting fads out as quickly as possible at the cheapest price is their main business agenda, and in doing so they promote a destructive shopping culture and seriously hurt the success of independent designers who promote innovative design and positive business practices.

– Forging Authenticity –

Forever 21 has been sued over 50 times for copyright infringement; the fast fashion retailer has blatantly knocked off designs from big name brands like Diane Von Furstenburg and Betsey Johnson to smaller, independent designers like Trovata and Foley + Corinna. This is one of the many unethically sound ways these types of retailers are able to keep their prices super cheap. Knocking off from other designer’s work allows these companies to avoid having to pay a creative team of designers, thereby allowing them to charge less for their products. What’s worse is that the courts almost always side with the copycat. Since copyright laws are so complicated when it comes to fashion, the stealing of designs is really hard to nail down. By buying into these cheap knockoffs, design integrity is compromised. What was once a gorgeous, highly detailed design with amazing drape and feel becomes a low quality look-a-like with shotty craftsmanship, void of almost all stylistic detailing. The originality and innovation that went into the design is diluted when cheap knock-offs become representative of the original look – hurting the success of the designer who exerted time, energy, and dedication to creating the concept. The mentality of, “If I can get the same look for $100 less, why buy the real thing?” is detrimental to an independent label.

– Lacking in Longevity –

Fast fashion retailers and chain stores make products from the lowest quality materials they can get away with, resulting in a super short lifespan of the product. Ingenious from a strictly business perspective: the cheap products last just about as long as the trend and when they fall apart, consumers simply throw them away and replace them with next weeks cheap fad… a never ending cycle of robotic (ergo thoughtless) consumption.

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Purchasing from an indie brand, however, you can be sure that true thought, time, and energy went into every aspect of the design. Materials are hand chosen and each stitch is placed with precision. Independent brands are focused on creating products that last. Yes, they will be more expensive, but that is because they are made from quality materials that will not fall apart after a few wears and washes. So, even though it may feel like you are spending less by opting to buy cheaper items, in the long run you save more by investing in more expensive, higher quality items that last.

– Humanitarianism –

It is no secret that big chain retailers use large factories, usually overseas (even though Forever 21’s factories are actually in LA), where workers are paid practically nothing for their labor and forced to work long hours in horrible working conditions. This is another major way they are able to keep prices so low, and so long as people’s buying choices revolve around the price tag, these retailers will continue to get away with exploitive practices.

Smaller, independent designers are much more in tune with the consequences of their business practices. Because the designer plays multiple roles in the business, they have a hand in each step of production from design, to manufacturing, to the end sale. Independent designers have a focus that is lost in large retail corporations – they make it a point to be responsible with their business. Many even take it a step further by using their business to give back.

– Voting With Your Dollar –

The next time you are choosing where to shop, remember that you are really voting with your dollar. Do you want to promote mass-produced, low quality fashion fads that rely on the exploitation of workers, or do you want to support original designers who use their business for good? The choice is yours.

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Sarah’s Bag – Inspiring Brand, Empowering Women

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“Empowered women mean empowered societies,” this is  the motto of inspiring accessory brand, Sarah’s Bag. This Beirut, Lebanon-based business paves the way for sound supply chain practices, proving that fair labor does not compromise gorgeous and innovative design. Sarah’s Bag employs women at risk as their artisans, who hand make absolutely original clutches and handbags with lavish embellishments including embroidery, cross stitching, intricate beading, crochet and so much more.

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Founded in 2000, Sarah’s Bag has grown to employ more than 150 women across Lebanon who have taken solace and found empowerment in the opportunity presented by Sarah to take control of their lives; finding work that helps them contribute to their communities and support their families in a world that otherwise casted them aside. These women congregate together to hand stitch designs that showcase their skills, giving them a space to connect with each other while producing magnificent works of art for the world to enjoy.

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Sarah’s Bag is an inspiration – really shedding light on the fashion industry and the vast opportunities it has to support and help communities in need. Rather than sourcing cheap and unfair labor in mega-factories, why not source individuals like these Lebanon women who, with just a bit of instruction, can produce not only gorgeous designs, but high quality pieces that will last lifetime, while at the same time improves the lives of others.

A truly magnificent display, this brand should be commended for their tremendous effort and success in combining fashion, business, and humanitarianism.

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Watch a video about the story behind the amazing women artisans that hand make the products of Sarah’s Bag here:  http://bit.ly/176zBTw

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Two Months Later: A Look at the Bangladesh Catastrophe

126692804_01_407688bSince 24th April this year Bangladesh has been at the forefront of fashion and business news. The tragedy of the Rana Plaza factory collapse in Dhaka, which killed over 1,000 people and injured more than 2,000, has meant that garment factories have been a big issue for retailers and fashion businesses.

The Rana Plaza disaster happened at a pivotal time in social history. Many people around the world have been hit by a tough economy, and they’re thinking more carefully before buying anything, both of their own need, and the value of their products. Longevity of items, and where they have come from, are very important factors to a lot of consumers.

Additionally, social media is at its peak, and instant news has had a profound affect on the way information is digested. Just looking at the global response to the tragic events at the Boston Marathon this year, makes you realise that everybody feels connected, and reacts together.

When you combine these two things, consumer awareness and instant news, it shows that when something goes wrong in the production chain, it has huge consequences. Consumers are asking more questions, and making big businesses feel uneasy. With personal budgets tighter than they’ve been for years, it’s easier for people to change their shopping habits, to turn away from companies and brands because of how they operate.

If something like the Rana Plaza catastrophe had happened 15 or 20 years ago, would we even have heard about it? More than likely, the major corporations would have hidden it away, subduing any reports. Now that we have the ability to be connected with the other side of the world in moments, these companies have nowhere to hide.

This isn’t to say that all big businesses are corrupt, and forcing people to work at a rate barely above slave labour. With the cost of living being more tightly monitored by individuals, there have been more ethical and responsible companies emerging. They understand that the attitudes towards instant and throwaway fashion are changing, albeit slowly and in very small increments. These companies might be charging more for their wares, but that’s because the materials were bought for a fair price, and the people who made them were paid more than $60 a month. We now have the opportunity to learn what fashion is worth to each of us.

Sadly, for a lot of people, the cost of these ethical products is prohibitive. One of the positive things to come from the Rana Plaza collapse is that politicians and governments are now seeing the responses from social medias, and understand that these are things their people feel strongly about. It would be nice if we lived in a world where governments were governed by their own morals, but unfortunately, they rely on the morals of their voters. Right now, their voters want change and help for the garment workers, so they are acting.

In the months since the collapse, the government in Bangladesh has voted to increase the minimum wage for factory workers, and to allow them to form unions without the prior consent of the factory owners. BEGMA (Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association) have announced that the factories within it’s association must sign up to a worker database, to give security to casual workers and keep a real time track of the employment levels.

As recently as within the last week, the US President announced that they will be ending duty-free trade privileges over their concerns into dangerous working conditions and worker rights. This is a bold move for the US, and one that has caused anger in Bangladesh, which feels that America is ignoring the recent changes instigated by the Bangladesh government, which is working hard to protect its citizens.

Feelings are that the EU will soon follow suit with this change in commerce, as they often do after the US makes a change of this magnitude. It often takes one definitive stand before change can start, but we can only hope that the garment industry in Bangladesh can survive long enough to repair itself.

With all of these changes and work from a high level, its clear to see that everybody felt the pain and loss from April, and want to help make sure it doesn’t happen again. It’s only been two months since the Rana Plaza disaster so it’s too soon to tell if any of these changes are working. We might not know for some time if they will work, but it cannot continue as it is, and at least in the mean time every one who can do, is doing something.

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Transparency Tuesday – Fashioning Change

 
Screen Shot 2013-04-02 at 4.41.21 PMFinally, the myth that sustainable clothing is harder to find and more expensive than normative fashion brands has been dispelled. Introducing Fashioning Change, an amazing, innovative eCommerce platform based in San Diego that finds less expensive, yet equally trendy, sustainable alternatives to the large brands you usually shop. Screen Shot 2013-04-02 at 4.41.46 PMFashioning Change builds your own virtual changing room by asking you a series of questions including your budget for fashion products,

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Personality,

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style,

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brand preference,

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and which donations you care about most.
Screen Shot 2013-04-02 at 4.45.34 PMYour changing room is then formulated and you can browse items by your personal style, causes, personality, or “likes”. You can also explore larger categories like Women, Men, Children, Brands, and Looks.

We want to thank Fashioning Change for making sustainable fashion more accessible to the masses and starting to change the idea that sustainable = expensive. I.F. gives Fashioning Change an A+, be sure to check them out at http://fashioningchange.com and build your personal changing room for free!

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Letter From the Editor — Finding Fashion, East x West

An inquiry from a fellow fashion blogger sparked this next series of posts from I.F. Content Director, Kelly Sullivan (thanks again fashionablepostulations).

A fellow fashion theory junkie was asking about the fashion scene in California, and how fashion theory as a discipline is studied and structured in California academia. In answering this question, I realized how unique my position is (as a frequent traveller between the coasts and writer of fashion in both areas) in being able to identify differences and make comparisons between fashion systems on either side of the country.
 
Over the next few weeks I will be discussing and analyzing fashion enterprises located in various parts of the U.S. coastline including: Northern California, Southern California, The Greater Boston Area, and Manhattan. Starting with the places I’ve lived and moving to the ones I’ve only visited. If you have any specific questions you wish for me to address, please me sure to contact me. I am going to start with Northern California, since this is my current location (for the next 4 days that is).
 
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Northern California is paradise; I dare you to find any current or past resident that would say otherwise. Between the valley, the mountains, and the bay area, all geographic typographies are within driving distance. This might be why there is an air and attitude in Nor Cal of quaint familiarity and unspoken kinship that I have yet to find anywhere else. Getting a genuine smile from a passerby on the street is not out of the ordinary, nor is striking up the occasional conversation with a stranger waiting in line at the organic farm stand. Those happy California cows we are always hearing about can be found roaming free range in the vast rolling hills of Nor Cal, spending their days in the fresh outdoors, eating hearty grass and occasionally getting into the road causing a minor back up along the gorgeous, winding Highway 1 that runs along the Pacific sea coast.
 
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The people are laid back and use silly slang like “hella” and “jenky” and enjoy a 4:20 culture that is vibrant, booming, and unabashed. The superficial feel that is often found in high profile fashion cities is nonexistent in Nor Cal. In fact, instead of focusing on exclusivity and a “trickle-down” approach to fashion (the idea that the “fashion elite”, celebrities, fashion houses, designers, and style icons introduce fashions to society which are then adopted by the masses), the Northern California fashion system is more interested in benefitting the entire network – of which is defined at and compromised of not only those buying and interpreting fashion (i.e. the consumer), but also those designing it, selling it, as well as those producing it.
 
 
 
 
 
I truly admire the way this area thinks about, reflects on, and reacts to the consequences of fashion, from all perspective, and believe it should be looked to as a model for implementing positive and successful fashion systems. Stay tuned for a more magnified look into Northern California as I discuss and analyze this underrepresented, yet forward-thinking fashion area with a thicker lens.
 
Xo,
K
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