My first realisation that all was not well in the world of fast fashion had nothing to do with ethics, or sweat shops.
It was my own sense of recurrent dissatisfaction. No matter how fast I shopped, and how many ‘hauls’ of new clothes I brought home, nothing ever looked right. Those Clothes were not comfortable. Shapes and silhouettes changed so fast I never had the right shoes! Or the right coat or something. I bought more shoes and more coats, but that did not solve the problem.
The ever spinning world of Zara, Banana Republic and H&M was moving too fast for us to see the truth. There was no time to appreciate quality, absorb, colour and texture. Learning how to dress well, was becoming a lost art. In fact, fast fashion, was moving fast trying to disguise the fact that the clothes were so incredibly shabby. There was no finesse, no delicate colour, no tactile fabric – everything was a shadow of the original vision.
Mind you – the quality of older version Zara and Top shop was practically couture in comparison to what was to follow. PRIMARK, tesco and its US counterparts. Clothes unapologetically designed to be ‘low cost’. No waste in the seams, no lining, no invisible hemming. (Anyone even knows what the hem of a dress should like any more? )
So although we could now all buy the ‘latest fashion’ and enjoy the thrill of something new, none of it actually looked good. The little Dior look alike outfit, was an ugly caricature of the real deal.
Of course only the cognoscenti would know the difference between a pair of trousers with French seams and one with plain stitching. That, I was to learn, is just the kind of detail that makes the difference between looking tres chic or tres dishevelled.
Detail and good finish, is relatively expensive to do. It requires a certain level of skill and is not immediately apparent to the untrained eye of a casual shopper. Why pay more for something you can’t see? When most people talk about quality these days, it is not very clear, what it means. It’s been a very long time since we’ve seen any sort of quality in our clothes and the bar is set pretty low.
Ways to become educated about quality is handling clothes pre 1950s, visiting places like the V&A or frequenting some of those outrageously priced shops in Bond Street. Never go by the label or the brand. In the next couple of posts, I will be including some of my own choices, contemporary offerings of excelent quality at various price points.
The truth is fast fashion exploits everyone – including us, the consumers. The constant shopping choice can become clutter for the mind and none of us ever have a chance to look our best. We never develop the much talked about, personal style.
Oscar de la Renta once said of American wardrobes in the 1980’s “how can they ever look chic? There is too much choice!” Nowadays with the help of PRIMARK – we can outdo any American sized wardrobe.
Part 3 of my battle against fast fashion to follow, and some light solutions
The fight against evil
The fight against evil must go on, please help to spread the word or make a donation to Save the Elephant from extinction. Whatever you can give makes a difference.