Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Cliché Tuesday: Handmade clothing is crazy expensive

Do you think you can't afford handmade clothing? Think again! It's not as expensive as you might expect. Usually, when thinking of handmade clothing, the first thing that springs to mind is haute couture. Experienced French seamstresses meticulately beading hundreds of pearls onto exquisite but alas unaffordable dresses. Fountains of delicate fabric. Intricate woven patterns. Razor sharp cuts.

haute couture, Givenchy, Elie Saab

Inspiring. Captivating. Titillating. Quite out of reach. And yet surprisingly, garments made by hand (partly, at least), aren't necessarily a danger to your wallet. In fact, I'm willing to stake my left pinky toe - who needs those anyway? - on each and every one of you having something made by hand in your closets. Unless you're not into sequins, embroidery and that kind of stuff, in which case I'll keep my toe, thank you very much.

Fact of the matter is, handmade clothes are not out of reach to us. It is true that most of the clothes we buy nowadays are sewn using sewing machines. Machines, however, cannot solve everything: some embellishments are too delicate, or would require highly sophisticated machinery, to be sewn on automatically. It's hard to know, but at the prices we usually pay for our clothes, we can safely assume that the factories producing them do not have the means to purchase this technology. Chances are I'm sharing old news, but I still wanted to write about it. Because weirdly enough, I had never ever considered how the sequins in my clothes came to be where they are, and I certainly didn't expect them to be the product of handicraft.

hand made clothing, ethical fashion, sequins

These are all details of clothes of mine. To produce something like this requires craftship, determination and precision. I marvel at whoever did this. Especially considering she (or he) is very likely one of the 30 million informal home-workers employed by the fashion industry who work in poor conditions and, according to the Self Employed Women's Association, do not even come near to earning minimum wage. Which I'm guessing is pretty low to start with in a country like India...