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We Live in the Age of Cheap & Nasties


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#1 Sator

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Posted 05 February 2014 - 10:38 AM

This is the women's version of the same threat starting in the men's section:

 

 

I'll quote it again:

 

I've heard tailors say that even as recently as the 1980's, people simply wanted the best. Now they come in and they react with horror that a bespoke suit might cost several thousand dollars. Many think that because it isn't a "designer brand" garment, a bespoke garment should cost less. 

 

Part of the reason is that people in the past were generally much better dressed might be because we are too addicted to a wave of cheap and nasty mass produced garments mostly made of petroleum based fibres i.e. of non-biodegradable plastics in even nastier sweat shops. Not only is the surfeit of plastic being continually discarded harmful to the environment, it's less comfortable to wear, but the wave of cheap and nasty disposable clothes look terrible. You see people wearing grossly ill fitting stuff everywhere, unlike when you see street shots of people walking around in films from the 1950-60s. It's degrading to who we are as people.

 

Nor do people seem to think much of the fact that bespoke often means that you frequently get to meet the people who make your clothes. That means that buyers are reassured that people who made their clothes are not locked away in dark and Dickensian conditions on slave labour wages, as those in the 2013 Savar building collapse were forced to suffer:

 

http://en.wikipedia....ilding_collapse

 

A couple of books on the question of fast fashion and its impact on the modern world:

 

http://www.amazon.co.../dp/B005GSZJ3Y/

 

http://www.amazon.co.../dp/B005AKHSR8/

 

These ethicals concerns are rarely discussed when the advantages of bespoke clothing come up, but I think that they should be. The next question is whether there are gender difference in attitudes towards expecting clothes to be cheap and disposable. Also are there gender differences in terms of the expectations regarding ethical clothing between men and women? How does this affect the bespoke garment making business, and how tailors interact with women who come into their stores?

 



#2 posaune

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Posted 07 February 2014 - 03:00 AM

I'm seeing it like this:

In my youth ( after the war) ladies went to the tailor to have their garments made - if there was fabric and/or money or something you could give the tailor instead. So clothes were very valuable, long worn and the ladies were very fit sensitive. We had a tailor"ess" who came to our house and sewed the garments for us children. So we saw how a dress was made, the fussing about cut and fabric a.s.o.

 

Times got better, the people had more money to spend clothing was spare The tailors could not satisfy this big demand - but the Schneiderkostuem (Tailored suit) was still something you went for the tailor and had to wait for. More RTW was bought and the offer increased.

 

Fashion changed quicker and quicker. And then came the thighs and the growing women's movement.

The torture tools like garter and corset were banished. That happened between 1960 - 1970. The mini skirt appeared. But the fit was still good. Many older tailors could not cope with this fashion. The conversative interest representation (here in Germnay) of the tailors failed totally. To learn or work the profession was not popular. The salary for an apprentice was very low and the first years as "Geselle" was not better. In the industry you could make more money and had more freedom - especially as a girl.

 

In the 80er the fit got lost. The big shoulder pads made the bust dart obsolete. Those garment "fitted" nearly everyone. No tailor was needed. And it lasted about 10 years. A long time in fashion.

In the 90ies came the cheap clothes onto the market  made in Who Knows? conditions - who cares? Fit ???  why bother with fit. All around look like me.

Then there is another restriction with which the tailor has to fight: The label.

How can a tailor Miller compare against Escada? If I wear Escada everybody knows (or think) I have money. And if it is made in - Who knows?..........Why bother.

 

I think the money spend on clothes are the same as before  - only you have so much more garments in your closet.

 

Now after this in the 90er the sharp cut jacket reappeared. And here is where the tailor is coming again in the play for those, who wants to have fitting clothes and excellent fabric and have money.  Or those who can't buy from the rack.  Or those who want to know who had sewed it or what material they are wearing. Or want a say in creating what they wear.

The interest in designing is high (clamour) and in the craft - it is better than before.

There is a future in tailoring.

lg

posaune

excuse the english


Edited by posaune, 07 February 2014 - 08:09 AM.

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#3 cperry

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Posted 07 February 2014 - 07:37 AM

I am glad you posted on this, as it's been on our minds.  We read Cline's book a few weeks ago, and we have been watching and thinking about the news articles regarding places like Bangladesh and others.  My husband is a quality engineer in the electronics field, and I have been seeking his thoughts on this topic.  Here are some of his thoughts, for whatever they are worth:  http://www.blumenkin...rs-and-quality/

 

I appreciated reading the thoughts of all those who posted in the men's section as well as Posaune above.  I agree that most people have very little understanding of what it takes to create a custom-made garment like they did a few generations ago.  Teachers should do more to educate the young on what is good quality in clothing and fabric and all that goes into them.

 

My husband and I home school our kids, and one of our hopes is to teach our kids "what is good".  We think that once they experience what is good, they will not fall for that which is cheap.  For example, we live near Rochester, Minnesota, and have the good fortune of being near things that doctors from Mayo Health Clinic see as worthwhile.  There happens to be a bakery called Daube's.  I took my nine-year-old daughter there last week.  She had an apple fritter.  It was absolutely delicious, and we all talked about how good it was.  Then this week, during piano lessons in a very small rural town, we bought an apple fritter from a gas station.  She couldn't eat it.  She remembered the quality of Daube's apple fritter.  It's the same with clothing.  Once people see what it's like to wear something that is custom-fitted and made with good materials, they will start saving up for the quality.

 

You should focus in on communicating why one would want a suit of the "elite" (even in the day when the heads of companies are choosing a very casual look, think Amazon).  And, spend a lot of time communicating the value of the custom fit and quality cloth.  There are people out there who understand what you're talking about once explained, and they start asking where they could find such a garment.  All that to say this forum is a great start.

 

I'm involved in a smocking arts guild, and what I find so precious is that most of the ladies in attendance are the daughters of women who were excellent seamstresses.  They remember what it was like to wear the 100% wool coat their moms made for them and the classic dresses with the peter pan collars in natural fibers.  Now they're doing the same for their grandchildren, if mostly for the very special occasion.


Edited by cperry, 07 February 2014 - 11:54 AM.

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#4 cperry

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Posted 08 February 2014 - 03:24 AM

I'm coming back here to say there are many writers and teachers who are teaching youth and adults in the area of sewing.  Immediately Claire Shaeffer, David Coffin, and Susan Khalje come to mind.  I am very thankful for them!  I am also like a kid in a candy store reading the Cutter and Tailor Forum.

 

Since 2009, it has been a difficult economy in America.  My family has moved twice due to lay offs.  It's a lot of work; it's not fun.  I think a lot of the very casual mood has been in response to the situation.  I bet soon everyone will be ready for better!! 

 

Two things I thought would be encouraging to tailors.  I noticed in the political flyers the other day it's still important for leaders to dress well.  Each one of the current candidates were wearing fine looking suits.  Each candidate, however, also had a picture of his "casual" look with his family, maybe all in jeans and t-shirts, but new ones, not raggy ones.  I see this as the politician's attempt to "relate" and display that they are like the common people, while still looking professional.

 

Second, I visited Mayo Health Clinic yesterday (on my way to Ginny's Fine Fabric--which is a wonderful place encouraging the Craft).  While walking through the Mayo Subway that takes you right to Ginny's, we noticed that again it's still important for the Mayo employees to dress tastefully.  We were guessing it's the doctors who wear the fine suits, others are also nicely dressed; nice wool slacks, nice shirts or skirts.  The patients dress in a variety of casual attire....jeans and those black legging and such.  It's still very important for Mayo to portray "competence" and the respectable suit is an important element of that image.

 

My husband works as an engineer.  He says companies mostly want engineers to be comfortable.  Most of his coworkers wear jeans and a button down shirt.  He said he's getting a reputation for being a clothing hound (smile).  He is most comfortable in his dress slacks and a button down shirt.  Sometimes it's a Pendleton this time of year, other times it's a one of cotton shirting with a sweater (It's been really cold in Minnesota this year).

 

I worked for General Motors and Electronic Data Systems until 1998.  It was a professional environment.  Business suits, dresses and skirts; no slacks.  It was about 1995 that "casual Friday" was established.  That meant blouses and dress slacks.  It was 1996 in Colorado at a computer startup that I experienced "total casual" in the work environment.

 

The topic of image and manners in dress has been on my mind (as the mom of four young ladies).  I came across this quote:

 

"The question of dress is of leading importance in modern society, and the woman who affects indifference to it lacks judgement.  A woman who dresses badly loses half her opportunities.....Mme de Maintenon asserted that good taste indicated good sense."  From the Household Companion, The Home Book of Etiquette (found online).


Edited by cperry, 08 February 2014 - 03:37 AM.

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#5 tailleuse

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Posted 08 February 2014 - 04:06 AM

 

This is the women's version of the same threat starting in the men's section:

 

 

I'll quote it again:

 

I've heard tailors say that even as recently as the 1980's, people simply wanted the best. Now they come in and they react with horror that a bespoke suit might cost several thousand dollars. Many think that because it isn't a "designer brand" garment, a bespoke garment should cost less. 

 

Part of the reason is that people in the past were generally much better dressed might be because we are too addicted to a wave of cheap and nasty mass produced garments mostly made of petroleum based fibres i.e. of non-biodegradable plastics in even nastier sweat shops. Not only is the surfeit of plastic being continually discarded harmful to the environment, it's less comfortable to wear, but the wave of cheap and nasty disposable clothes look terrible. You see people wearing grossly ill fitting stuff everywhere, unlike when you see street shots of people walking around in films from the 1950-60s. It's degrading to who we are as people.

 

Nor do people seem to think much of the fact that bespoke often means that you frequently get to meet the people who make your clothes. That means that buyers are reassured that people who made their clothes are not locked away in dark and Dickensian conditions on slave labour wages, as those in the 2013 Savar building collapse were forced to suffer:

 

http://en.wikipedia....ilding_collapse

 

A couple of books on the question of fast fashion and its impact on the modern world:

 

http://www.amazon.co.../dp/B005GSZJ3Y/

 

http://www.amazon.co.../dp/B005AKHSR8/

 

These ethicals concerns are rarely discussed when the advantages of bespoke clothing come up, but I think that they should be. The next question is whether there are gender difference in attitudes towards expecting clothes to be cheap and disposable. Also are there gender differences in terms of the expectations regarding ethical clothing between men and women? How does this affect the bespoke garment making business, and how tailors interact with women who come into their stores?

 

 

 

No matter what they say, "green" is a color, not a movement, for certain people.  The minute it's off-trend, "sustainability" will be out the window.

 

To a still startling degree, women are marketed the idea that they need an ever-changing diet of "fashion" instead of more-consistent "style".  If they realized they could be fit for clothes completely made to order by people with tact and judgment they might be more willing to spend the money.  By the same token, tailors need to become comfortable with more styles that are less stodgy.


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#6 tailleuse

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Posted 08 February 2014 - 04:16 AM

 

Fashion changed quicker and quicker. And then came the thighs and the growing women's movement.

The torture tools like garter and corset were banished. That happened between 1960 - 1970.

 

 

Don't forget the Hippie movement in the U.S., one of whose slogans was "Let it all hang out."  A commendable experiment, but the problem is most people don't look that great in sloppy tunics and dirty jeans, they look better in semi-fitted clothes.

 

3-hippies.jpg


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#7 cperry

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Posted 08 February 2014 - 05:26 AM

I have been fascinated with Mini Rhea's book Sew Simply, Sew Right, where she discusses the illusion of line and body types.  I've wanted to understand it more, so I can apply it to my own wardrobe.  I've seen the value of cloth that looks as good as it did when new, in my few Pendleton skirts; dare I admit after 17 years (they were a gift from my husband and what he likes to see me wear).  I also found one made in England by Burberry's.  We agree people look better in semi-fitted styles than black leggings that show off every imperfection.

 

We have also spent time watching the movies from the 50s.  We admire how the clothing fits better and the cloth looks better.

 

I have to add, one phenomenon I notice with young girls locally.  They are tired of those boxy t-shirts.  To rectify the lack of a good fit, they tuck it to the back and hold it with a hair tie or safety pin.  I'm hearing also that young girls want to be seen as feminine, and are choosing skirts over blah-zay jeans.


Edited by cperry, 08 February 2014 - 05:31 AM.

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#8 Sator

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Posted 08 February 2014 - 06:50 PM

I've heard some women say admit (even Claire Shaeffer said this to me when we met) that most women have been so indoctrinated by the advertising industry into accepting the principle of discarding clothes constantly at the end of each season, that the would not pay thousands for a bespoke suit that risks lasting "forever". One manufacturer who made women's clothes to men's standards (i.e. to be highly durable), found that women complained that the clothes lasted too long! Many of the cloths chosen for women's ranges are extremely flimsy, and durability is obviously that thing they had in mind.

 

In term of construction, if you look at high end suit makers like Brioni and Kiton, even their women's suits are fused, and the fibres are frequently synthetic blends. You can tell that they use more "speed tailoring" to keep the prices down. The end result is that a Kiton Donna suit costs significantly less than the men's equivalent. The implication is that if they made them too expensive, women won't buy them. 

 

The end result is that women throw away a lot of non-recyclable/biodegradable petroleum based synthetic (i.e. plastic) clothes which end up in land fill. All of these actions have their social and environmental costs. The presumption of disposability implies that the clothes are cheap (i.e. made by a 8 year old working in a sweat shop). 

 

I wish cloth merchants e.g. Holland & Sherry etc made specifically eco-friendly, or even organic versions of their cloth designs, as well as design books aimed at women. That would help to market bespoke as being "cool" and even socially cutting edge. 

 

I do wonder if there are women out there for whom wearing bespoke could be a high-end professional way of making a statement of protest after outgrowing the wild hair/make-up and rebellious street styles blah blah of their youth? Bespoke means having fewer professional suits that last longer and where you can boast to having sat down and enjoyed coffee with the people who made your clothes for you. Where your control over fibres means you can be more certain about where they were sourced and milled. It's also the ultimate statement in elegant professionalism for the career women determined to "break the glass ceiling". 



#9 Sator

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Posted 08 February 2014 - 07:29 PM

 

Don't forget the Hippie movement in the U.S., one of whose slogans was "Let it all hang out."  A commendable experiment, but the problem is most people don't look that great in sloppy tunics and dirty jeans, they look better in semi-fitted clothes.

 

3-hippies.jpg

 

If you buy clothes like this today, you can be guaranteed that they are made of plastic and made by a 8 year-old in a Chinese sweat shop. The same is true for almost any supposedly "rebellious" and "cool" street styles of today. It seems that corporations manufacture massed produced plastic rebellion, a rebellion that has been sold to youth by advertising companies who have brainwashed them into thinking that this is supposed to be "cool". 

 

It's very sad...the ultimate in corporate conformity. 



#10 posaune

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Posted 08 February 2014 - 08:54 PM

that most women have been so indoctrinated by the advertising industry into accepting the principle of discarding clothes constantly at the end of each season

 

This was the case too, in older times. Paris (the coutoure houses) dictated what was to be worn and which color it should be.

In my apprentciship I was in a firm which sold dyes. They had some persons on the fashion fairs. They send us express some (stolen) samples of the new fashion color. We worked nearly day and night to get quick the recipe for the dye. The color lasted if you were lucky for two seasons. Next season was another color and cut en vogue.

You saw if somebody had a garment on from last year.

I think, this stress is now a bit better, the changing of the fashion is so quick. The firms do 4 - 6 collections. A lady can wear nowaday more often what she wants. And I knew a lot of business women who choose the elegant and timeless from excellent fibre done by the tailor. With evening gowns it is another thing.

lg

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#11 tailleuse

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Posted 08 February 2014 - 10:30 PM

I agree that many women have been brainwashed into thinking their clothes shouldn't last and that they should change styles every few months.  The main change seems to be that designers can no longer dictate hemlines and specific styles; they have to offer a range. But I still see idiotic articles about the "color of the season," etc.

 

Some women, like some men, are always going to be hungry for endless variety in clothing, but as more women become successful and secure I think a good many will want comfortable, beautiful clothes on which they can rely for more than a season or two.  That day will not dawn anytime soon, however.  I hate to generalize, but women are not raised to take themselves seriously; they're still raised to consider themselves as lifelong self-improvement projects dependent on cosmetics companies and cosmetic surgeons, fashion magazines, and clothing manufacturers. Men would never put up with clothing that doesn't fit, doesn't last, isn't comfortable, and may even be damaging to the body (high heels) or is dangerous.  One of the reasons for that is the relative power of men to women in this society.


Edited by tailleuse, 08 February 2014 - 10:37 PM.

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#12 tailleuse

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Posted 08 February 2014 - 10:36 PM

that most women have been so indoctrinated by the advertising industry into accepting the principle of discarding clothes constantly at the end of each season

 

This was the case too, in older times. Paris (the coutoure houses) dictated what was to be worn and which color it should be.

 

 

What better way to display one's wealth than sporting the latest stratospherically expensive designs of the leading couturiers of the day?  :-)


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#13 tailleuse

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Posted 08 February 2014 - 10:47 PM

 

If you buy clothes like this today, you can be guaranteed that they are made of plastic and made by a 8 year-old in a Chinese sweat shop. The same is true for almost any supposedly "rebellious" and "cool" street styles of today. It seems that corporations manufacture massed produced plastic rebellion, a rebellion that has been sold to youth by advertising companies who have brainwashed them into thinking that this is supposed to be "cool". 

 

It's very sad...the ultimate in corporate conformity. 

 

Very true, you also have to bear in mind that many young people (as well as more mature folks) simply don't have the money for better clothes.  There's practically no mid-range anymore.  It's either cheap and disposable or luxury, and these categories mirror current income inequalities.  

 

I went shopping with a student at H & M last year.  I told him that he had to be prepared to get maybe a year's worth of wear out of his purchases, but I understood why he preferred to buy three sweaters there instead of one very nice sweater at a better place.  I've never been someone who enjoyed going to thrift stores, but in fashion-mad New York everything seems picked over at places like Housing Works.  If you really want to score something good you must have to shop frequently and be the kind of person who doesn't mind going through 50 completely ordinary things for a gem.


Edited by tailleuse, 08 February 2014 - 10:47 PM.

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#14 greger

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Posted 11 February 2014 - 01:00 PM

As a small boy listening to my grandparents generation talking of changing clothes styles and fashions laughter (being laughed at) was part of life. Even for costly tailored clothes. In fact it started with them, they could afford the latest. It was only because of mass-produced that poorer people could afford being fashionable because mass-produced could be made quickly, so cheaper. Before then the poorer could only stand on the side lines watching the rich have fun with there ever changing clothes.

 

Back in the 1980s middle of the road lapel widths was a selling point (salesmanship) because before then lapels were wider than the shoulders sometimes and extremely narrow other times and real tailors made them by the millions. Just look at pant legs.... It is people having fun with clothes and joy of expressing these with talk and clothes. Tailors can still make popular clothes and do better of the clothes ideal and some customers will pay the thousands. Those who can afford, why not? A poor tailor is far from what a billionaire can buy, so don't misadvise (take the money and run :yes:).


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#15 SPOOKIETOO

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Posted 26 June 2014 - 01:38 AM

There is little doubt that the affordability of a bespoke suit is limited to only the most affluent among us. When 50 percent or more of a nations' population is living off of some sort of government subsidy - there are going to be very few that can afford bespoke. Then for many of those fortunate enough to be able to afford the clothing - there is the question of "a new suit or a week in the Bahamas?" ...."a new suit or visit Mum and Dad in whatever other country they happen to reside?" " a new suit or upgrade the automobile?"  I know many people that could afford bespoke, but yet they choose the latter option.

 

I think that the only way to establish the resurgence of a well dressed society is to educate the masses and the masses will have to require more of the corporate world. I'm not just talking about the abhorrent business of third world sweat shops but the very fabrics which are produced to be "thrown away". I love natural fibers, they are a dream to sew and often a dream to wear. But quite frankly, after 4 hours in East Tennessee humidity ( or half an hour in New Orleans humidity!) a cotton/poly blend shirt will usually look fresher on me than a high quality all cotton shirt. A blend can be manufactured so that it never pills or fades and wrinkles very little and yet still breathes....but then the corporations wouldn't be able to sell the customer another new shirt. My favorite sweater is almost 20 years old, a basic red front button cardigan, a dream to wear, has never had a single pill or pull and is 100% acrylic. I have a lanolin allergy so wool and I have a love/hate relationship. I've only ever owned one other acrylic sweater that wore this well. It went with jeans on the weekend or pearls and a black pencil skirt for work. It was perfect and fit me perfect.  I wore it for a decade and it was a Christmas present from my Grandmother who always left the tags on a gift - $16.96 at Walmart in the early 80's! I was stunned at that time. My Grandmother spent her entire adult life sewing in clothing factories - making the cheap stuff - but from this she learned and knew what quality was.

 

I post on another sewing forum where many of the members there consider a serged seam to be a "proper professional-looking" seam. Therefore an unlined summer weight jacket with serged edges actually looks well-made to them. Sergers only exist to produce the mountains of cheaply made clothing even faster and cheaper. This "professional-looking" perception astounds me.

 

I guess what I am trying to say is this: for the tailoring profession to flourish, there will need to be not only a rise in the education of the general public with respect to clothing, but also an effort on the part of tailors to incorporate new concepts into their existing methods. I'm not talking about cutting quality in order to reduce cost, but to improve the wear-ability factor for todays world.

 

Afterall, when I was earning my degree in Interior Design ( a bit of a chi-chi poo-poo profession to most), no one explained that I would have to climb under a desk, wearing a pencil skirt, to determine why a drawer wasn't working properly. Or that my favorite conservative shirt dress with the full skirt would get caught in the wheels of my desk chair several times daily. Or that I would need to get on my knees in a greasy restaurant kitchen in order to read a serial number and have to stop to think if I would destroy what I was wearing to do so. Or that I would accidently back into wet oil based enamel paint in my favorite wool jacket at a construction site.  Let me assure everyone here that good restaurant equipment sales people in the U.S. are in the top 5% of wage earners.

 

I think the fact of the matter is this...we do not live in a 1950's movie...and the majority of human beings never have and never will.  Clothing needs will have to meet the demands of modern day life first and foremost.


Edited by SPOOKIETOO, 26 June 2014 - 01:41 AM.

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#16 Henry Hall

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Posted 07 February 2015 - 10:16 PM

The 'well dressed society' of the past is not what people imagine it to be. I'm getting the feeling that a lot of people in the forum/blogosphere are mislead by films and television which recreate a vision of the past and by selective photo documentation.

 

Remember that most people made an effort to dress up somehow if they knew a photo might be taken, that hardly happens at all now. This means that the photos may well be misleading as to what people actually wore day to day. The styles and shapes were probably the same as what is now considered "classic clothing", but there was a lot of shabbiness about in the past; especially between the two wars and right into the 1970s.

 

My grandad (born 1914) always wore loose flannel trousers at home, for comfort's sake I imagine and because there was nothing else in terms of lounging wear for most of his life. Had he been able to get jogging pants earlier in his life, it's possible he may have worn those at home and been accustomed to it.

 

A lot of women made their own clothes in the past out of necessity, and not necessarily because they were specifically aiming at becoming a sempstress for the sake of it. It was the only way to have some clothing respectability for many people on very tight budgets. If you look at old photographs that catch people unawares (newspapers etc) there is a lot of shabbiness arising from lack of money.A lot of the people appearing better dressed are wearing cast offs from wealthier people. Most cities and towns had old clothes markets (of varying quality) before the rise of very cheap RTW.

 

If you watch the Charlie Chaplin short 'The Immigrant' I think you'll see a more accurate representation of what the average person - even dressed in 'better' clothes - looked like in the past.

 

The cheap ready-to-wear movement fits neatly into the myth of how everyone has become better off through capitalism. Income levels are much the same for average people relative to prices and expenses. You get your cheaper clothing and your income has to go on other things like expensive property (buy or rental) and new expenses like phones and internet, and the constant stream of consumer goods.

This lowered cost of clothing is at the expense of someone; it always is. 


Edited by Henry Hall, 07 February 2015 - 10:25 PM.

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#17 Der Zuschneider

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Posted 09 February 2015 - 06:47 AM

Last year I was at a fashion show in a big expensive mall. People stare at me as when I would be a movie star because they became aware that they look like garbage and were ashamed of. People really look like shit without style and taste and cheap looking fabric, terrible! They were afraid to talk with me, I was something from another star with my 1.5 cm chalk stripe suit of English fabric. This is what a traditional tailored suit does. People are simply dumb and stingy!


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#18 Henry Hall

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Posted 09 February 2015 - 09:34 AM

Or miseducated.


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