This editor’s letter is going to be quite long, with our thoughts about the fashion industry as it is today and why we need to shop smart.
Seems like the last few weeks the situation of fashion and textile industries is talked about a lot.
The reason we started to think about it, was the last fashion month. It seemed “business as usual” but the excitement was lacking both from the coverage and in many cases, from the clothes.
Fashion industry as we know it is changing:
Some brands chose to follow “direct to consumer” format, as they got tired of seeing high street brands copying their designs and selling them way before their brand does, and of spending on marketing clothes that are nowhere near the actual stores.
The change is in the air. Some can comprehend what stands behind it, and some just get that feeling of a big shift that is happening.
These changes don’t come out of nowhere. No matter which way you look at it, fashion system as we know it is changing. We have to start producing and shopping smart so it becomes better.
The changes we see in the consumer market are very obvious. Many US retailers showed very poor results (we strongly suggest to read the comments to this article) last year. Companies who lowered their quality, suffered. Of course there are giants that still show astonishing growth results, but their ways of operating are starting to change, and some already pledged (like H&M) to improve their production ways.
But the signs are there: customers are not as keen to pull the trigger.
And really, why would we? We are bombarded with appealing images, great offers, pretty outfits. We are pulled to every direction possible. We get merchandise discounted a few weeks into the new season so we learned to wait for sales and holidays. And we are sooooo oversaturated with media images, we don’t know where to look anymore.
But boy do we still consume! There are still thousands of new “haul” videos uploaded daily, influencing mostly the younger shoppers.
We have a long way to go before all of us start to give our clothes some thought. Not only how they look on us or how cute they are, but also where they come from, who made them, what they are made of.
We admit to our own share of shopping hauls, especially during our early 20's. So no judging. But is there a healthy balance?
Fashion industry today:
We overproduce, many of us definitely overconsume.
We put enormous pressures on designers. The creativity was put on the back burner and the commercial value took the spot. The sheer amount of collections, the constant chase after new trends is tiring.
High street fashion designers are constantly measured by their sales results as well, and their chase after the next bestseller never stops.
Of course many shoppers feel like they’ve seen it all before when so many brands rely on their repeat orders and bestsellers to do their job over and over again. Everybody is copying everybody.
We overload our suppliers and factories, especially those who are in the far east. Asking for target prices that will never create better conditions for the factory workers. Which leads us to our next point:
When we talk about big companies we need ot remember that there are thousands of people working there.
People who work in the fashion industry, are same as us: they get assignments, they want to do their job well, they get bonuses for doing their job well.
We doubt many stop to think what that extra 5 or 10 cents they take off the target price mean.
Not because they don’t care, it’s because they don’t know any better or other way and want to do their job well.
And why all of this happening? So we could by a top for 9.99$ and throw it away a few weeks/months later.
We didn’t even mention the environmental price we pay for such irresponsible behaviour.
Textile industry is one of the most polluting industries in the world. And this is only the production process. What about the waste?
But fashion system is complex. There are many sides to each issue.
On one hand, no fashion brand is content with what it has, it’s all about growth, percentages, quarterly results and achievements and revenues.
On other, this growth creates jobs and opportunities. It creates new businesses, it creates economic growth.
On one hand some brands demand ridiculous target prices, urging the factories to lower their standards as well as wages.
On other it is also, very difficult, sometimes to track down your production. There is such thing as sub contractors. Even when you do your research, visit the factory, and leave content that you made a good, albeit slightly more pricey, deal. Your order can still go to a subcontractor who you know nothing about.
And unless you are well connected and knowledgeable about the laws in the country you are producing in, it is not easy to follow through. Especially not for an import or a small scale business.
Of course, all of this is easily solved when you choose local production.
On other hand, it costs a lot. And it is hard to run a fashion company these days. If you don’t play the game: lower your prices or offer appealing promotions, you will probably be closing shop very soon, in case of high street fashion. The competition is just so fierce. Many feel like they need to tag along.
There are a lot of complexities in this industry, as in many others, that need to be considered. And everything has its’ price.
So, where does this leave us?
We feel like the solution comes from both ends: the business and the consumers both can make a difference.
We think that you can shop. A lot. And still make the right choices, be environment conscious, and choose sustainable and local fashion as a consumer. It just takes a bit more research.
You can be a brand and be fair to your employees, choose local production, educate you customers. You should care about fair trade and environmental issues. This can work.
How can we be more conscious about our clothes?
We, the consumers, need to start shopping smart. We need to think of clothing as a way to express not only our personal style but also our personality. How responsible we are, how much do we care about the world we live in and people around us?
Well made, good quality clothes last longer. True, you pay more but you enjoy them for years and years. You take care of them, you appreciate them. You enjoy the thought and workmanship put in them.
When you shop smart you choose sustainable clothes.
When you shop smart, you learn to understand what makes a good quality garment such.
When you shop smart, you know your body. You know what flatters.
When you shop smart, you learn to know your taste. You also know what trends will work for you and what garments you will enjoy even after the trend passed.
When you shop smart, you know that the blouse you kind of liked and cost 15 dollars will be ruined after 2 washes.
When you shop smart, you know how to care for your favorite sweater so you can wear it much longer.
When you shop smart, you stop wanting to buy so much.
You enjoy what you have.
So how do you start shopping more consciously?
As a start you look into the brands you choose. Start exploring. Young and emerging designers, local brands, sustainable and eco consious companies all offer amazing clothes.
We have already talked about building your perfect wardrobe on our blog. Perfect wardrobe doesn’t necessarily means big budget. It means, well balanced wardrobe that never leaves you feeling like you have nothing to wear.
It is well thought of, so few are the situations when you are left wondering.
Impulse shopping and binge shopping are probably the worst offenders. “Hauls” as we call them these days.
How can you possibly make 10 or even 20 smart choices about your wardrobe in one go?
There will always be those times when you slip, when you buy something and never wear it.
But these should be a rare exception. Not the rule.
We here at MODAGRID will happily provide you advice, whether it is with emerging or any other brands.
Once we, the consumers, will start making that kind of choices, the brands will follow.
You make a difference with your decisions.
You make a difference with your brand preferences.
You make a difference with your wallet.