The Fast Fashion Money Crunchers
For years I worked in the fashion industry as a professional patternmaker and tailor in NYC and Los Angeles. I have worked for some iconic brands like Betsy Johnson, Ellen Tracy, and here in the O.C. at St. John Knits were making the clothing was an art form, fun, creative, and inspiring.
But other companies where I worked, the fast-fashion money crunchers were not so inspiring, seeing in-house samples and store-bought samples shipped overseas to be copied by factories all over the world, haggling over a few cents in cost, demanding lower prices sacrificing better quality on a daily basis, took its toll.
At the same time, I was experiencing that we all had so many clothes and nothing to wear. All the clothing in our individual lives is overtaking all of us. Going out to buy something new every week, and never really being satisfied.
Furthermore, I saw the quality of the workmanship or fabrics get destroyed to make a profit. I felt as a consumer and an American I could afford better quality, better design, and overall better fit.
That’s when I started my own line of custom clothing. When you try on my Salad Bowl Dress pieces they feel good, hang well, and follow the form of the person wearing them. That is what you get with tailoring, hand sewing, and independently picked fabrications. Clothing that is durable for an active life, flattering to the soul, full of compartments to place the devices we all depend on, binoculars, scissors, found objects, shoes, food, and glasses.
All the clothing is hand-made by me, Mary Colmar, in my studio, on my industrial single needle sewing machine and industrial Juki serge machine. (All larger quantity orders are made locally by individuals that sew as well and local contractors).
Subsequently, people ask me all the time where do I get all the clothes I cut up? To this day I have not had to buy anything at the Good Will except once when there was a run on trench coats I was making and I arrived to find all the name brand chino pants I was using were half price.
Sometimes I want to make up a story that at the stroke of midnight I walk out into the forest and pick clothes falling off trees. Because clothing is everywhere being thrown out or begged to be removed from overstuffed closets.
Actually, when I moved to the suburbs and sat in the parking lot looking at all the people walking out of the mall I thought, these are the fashionistas, they are going to look great.
Almost the opposite, a lot of people were buying more of the same ill-fitting, cheap fabrications of a designers original concept, completely dummied down by the greedy fast fashion money crunchers that could care less about giving people what they really want but instead focused on what they would spend because we all know the less expensive the better for us, ha, ha.
The incredible waste I saw also irked me to no end. We literally had ninety percent of our work go in the trash to exploit that one company or garment that met our needs in cost.
I began to wonder about the lives of these garment workers and I could not justify the fact that they might starve if not for the garment worker job which really was not the case. There are rich cultures of traditional craft and occupations before the factories moved in.