While it's been awhile since the last blog article here, when the fire in Bangladesh happened there was no escaping the dark thing that was on everyone's mind -- we all caused it. We are responsible for how our products come to be since we all have to make a living and only the end user can really drive change, ethics and a greater responsibility for purchasing decisions. Now, with more knowledge of all manufacturing processes from food to clothes to electronics, we are, by default, more responsible. There was a time when ignorance was bliss but it's history.
Here's what makes sense now.
There are 3 areas of knowledge that are critical for any quality of life -- food , shelter and clothing. Being able to design and create two, food and shelter, have put many aspiring types on hot social maps, not to mention big careers. In fact, developing a interesting personal "brand" now requires knowledge of a few unusual culinary specialties and certainly the right interior mood or personal space. The idea is to create something original that invites friends to know you in an authentic, pleasing way. In this time of hyper-marketing and social delusion, displaying a honest, creative self is a gift to others.
So it is time. It's time to fundamentally rethink clothing oneself. Working hard to buy something that has become a tangible symbol of cruelty to so many cannot continue to be sustained on a moral, ecological, practical or financial basis. It is time to create your clothes. If you do not sew, this means contemplating a medium learning curve -- there‘s a lot to know. It will take about 2 years to become confident but after that you’ll experience a much deeper satisfaction and freedom to be who you are than you could have ever imagined. It is the third leg of the stool that completes physical living in a very fulfilling way. Being able to choose fabrics, colors, fit and designs that are truly who you are and stop being the end user of a sweatshop industry is tremendously empowering. Like recycling, using alternative energy, supporting organic farmers or public transportation, the time has come when sewing defines you as a responsible world citizen. Our collective future depends on such people to act and create.
If you have children and believe that their quality of life will, as time goes on, be increasingly dependent on developing their self sufficiency, then teach them to sew. Next to food, textile products are one of the most crucial to life. Sewing something will protect the body, create warmth, express personality, save thousands of dollars, calm the soul and develop mentality acuity and manual skills -- not to mention offsetting computer-brain fog and couch potato-itis. The payoff is inestimable and it is life long.
As more is learned about the dangerous and unjust aspects of large scale ready to wear, like the factories in Bangladesh, it is clear that personal sewing is no longer a skill that is part of the past-- it is part of a viable future for humanity. Become an ambassador for this concept. You will realize that a perfect balance develops, like your own clothing bio-system, between how often you make something and how often you need something. It does fit beautifully into a busy life.
To get warmed up to this idea, check out the article, A New World, Tips for Teaching Sewing to Today's Youth, in the June/July issue of Vogue Pattern Magazine, on stands now. And then go to You Can Make It , which helps people who know how to sew teach others in their town. Then there are numerous online sources for DIY such as, Tilly and the Buttons. Search around, solve the problem once and for all. Men too.
Thank you to Katherine Allen-Coleman for her Paper Dress Paris image. See her work here.