Revolution is - Slow Fashion

April 20, 2016

Revolution is - Slow Fashion

SLOW FASHION AND THE HONOR OF WORK

Before discussing clothing, let’s talk about another staple—food.

Most of us have heard of the Slow Food Movement, and many of us have made food discoveries over the years that have brought us to the pleasures of such things as artisan cheese, artisan bread, organic produce, and the value of pure, high quality food ingredients. 

And of food preparation that involves skill and attention, that isn’t a rush job, that results in meals that bear respect for nature and bring friends and family together.

The reverence for a lovingly prepared meal exists in every traditional culture.  Here in India, people often clasp their hands and bow to the rice on the plate in front of them—“Thank you for sustaining me.”

In traditional cultures, men who have never picked up a ladle or a spatula, will speak with surprising knowledge about their native cuisine, and you realize they spent their childhoods watching their mothers prepare their meals, and you feel their respect for the labor and the love that went into their food.

In contrast, Fast Food, many of us have come to realize, is not a kind of food that is merely different from Slow Food; it is not just a more convenient and “modern” way of eating.  Fast Food isn’t actually food at all.  It’s a nutritionally debased imitation of the real thing.

A Fake.

The first time my mother, of solid German Wisconsin stock, tasted microbrewery beer, she said, “This is what beer used to taste like when I was young!”

Meaning back when every small town in Wisconsin had its own local brewery.

The first time I gave her a slice of artisan cheese she said, “This is what cheese used to taste like when I was young!”

Meaning back when every small town in Wisconsin produced its own local varieties of cheese.

She’d grown up on the real stuff, but through her adulthood, the real had been steadily replaced by the fake.  Rediscovering the real again was a pleasant shock.  And she was done, forever, with processed cheese and mass produced beer.

You may have formed a certain image in your mind about my mother, since I describe her as “solid German Wisconsin stock.”   Stocky.  Big boned.  Stolid and earthy.

In fact,  she was a slender, graceful, auburn haired, green eyed beauty.

And she loved fashion. 

She was an avid reader of Vogue Magazine.  She knew all the designers. 

She had the Vogue Pattern Book, and every night she was at her sewing machine putting together her dresses, skirts, blouses, jackets, and even hats.

When she went to church, she was a total fashion plate.

And she wasn’t the only one.  After every service those gorgeous women (I was in grade school, but I was definitely aware of how beautiful they were) would be commenting on each others’ outfits, praising, noting, advising.  They all knew their fabrics, the button stock, the levels of quality, types of stitching and the cost.

I grew up assuming that all women knew that stuff.  Actually most women in my generation do.

When my mother was a child and a young adult, all food was Slow Food, and all fashion was Slow Fashion.

My mother’s mother had worked in the clothing department at J.C. Penney, starting in the early 40’s, stuck with it to her retirement, bagged an excellent pension that the company supported, and bought herself and her husband a house, outright, when she was in her seventies.

And boy, did she know her job.

Penney’s, like all the other main stores back then, were selling real clothes.  That is, they were well made, from good materials, and made to last long, give good value.  Clothing didn’t wear out much in those days, except the kids’ clothes, of course; things were handed down an awful lot. 

In my young adulthood, many of us got a kick out of donning our grandparents’ clothes; we looked cool and rustic at the same time, and even I, who was a fashion illiterate and didn’t know quality in a garment except by the feel of it, recognized that these clothes were somehow the real thing.

Fast Fashion was taking over very quickly, and abruptly, around that time.  The concept of Trend was scalding through the industry; the concept of “wear it and throw it” was killing quality standards.  The public was being very consciously, and even forcefully, dumbed down about what we wear as surely as we were being dumbed down about what we ate.

Now, if you kill quality, you kill a quality worker.  I don’t mean literally, all though that is true too; but I mean you kill that individual’s chance of distinguishing herself/himself, of being recognized for her skill, and finally for being able to earn a salary commensurate with the quality she/he can produce.

A skilled worker becomes a cog; an artisan becomes an interchangeable industrial component.

And the end results are products of predictable inferiority, and, for the most part, what almost appears to be a deliberate ugliness.

Not too many people want to acknowledge the depressing fact that most of the clothes today are, frankly, ugly

We might ask, “Why should this be?”

And we might answer, “How could it be otherwise?”

If the intent, all along, has been to degrade quality in order to enhance profits, and if the degradation of work is essential to lowering wages and workers’ dignity, the final garment will bear the imprint of that original intent.

There’s a profound line in the film BABETTE’S FEAST (Slow Food again), “In the soul of every artist is the cry, ‘Let me give my best!”

Take the best away from the worker, and the best worker is gone.

Sometimes the only way to see ahead is to look back, not only to see where you have been, but to see what you have lost.

When Shari and I were gathering our team at Mehera Shaw, ten years ago now, we were immediately stunned by the skill of our stitchers, our cutter, our pattern master.  These were top line craftsmen who knew their worth, but who had never been given a chance to do their best, and were aching for the opportunity.  And we wanted, with every fiber in our being, to give them that chance.  We, and they, wanted to do the very best that we could do.

Once that idea takes over someone’s psyche, it is very difficult to back away from it.  I know crafts people and skilled workers in every field who cannot stomach doing inferior work, even when they are paid less than they are worth.  You start to hear words, the old words, in these contexts, words like “self respect”, “dignity”, and “honor.”

And this point about “Honor” is really the thing we need to recognize, because that is where the whole cycle begins and ends.  If you take away the honor of the work you have taken the honor from the worker, and ultimately you have taken the honor from the final recipient, the customer, who no longer knows high from low, real from fake, who now feels, at some unconscious level, that she is not worthy of the real thing, of real quality.  And least of all, of beauty.

Honor the work, honor the worker, honor yourself.




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Fit/Sizing/Care

Fit

Our styles are meant to give room to breath and move.  We use fine tailoring coupled with a relaxed, comfortable fit.

We use a fit guide for each of our styles to provide more information about the fit that was intended.

Slim Fit: a close fit to the body. Regular Fit: a comfortable, relaxed fit with room around the body. Generous Fit: a very loose fit (such as in our oversized blouses) with lots of room around the body for ease of movement.

 

 

Sizing

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

XS/ 36

S/ 38

M/40

L/ 42

XL/44

 

 

chest

35.5 inches/ 90 cm

37.5 inches/95 cm

39.5 inches/ 100 cm

41.5 inches/ 105 cm

44.5 inches. 113 cm

4cm extra from body

waist

26 inches/ 66 cm

28 inches/ 71 cm

30 inches/ 76 cm

32 inches/ 81 cm

35 inches/ 89 cm

fitted

 

low waist

28 inches/71 cm

30 inches/76 cm

32 inches/ 81 cm

34 inches/ 86 cm

37 inches/ 94 cm

fitted

 

hip

37 inches/ 94 cm

39 inches/ 99 cm

41 inches/ 104 cm

43 inches/ 109 cm

46 inches/ 1

4cm extra from body

 

 

 

 

Wash Care

We recommend cold water machine wash with a bio detergent and either tumble dry on low heat or line dry in shade for all of our 100% cotton garments.  Cold water wash and low heat drying or line drying in the shade will increase the life of the garment, prolong the vibrancy of the colors and reduce energy use. Shrinkage on all cottons is minimal, approximately 3%.

 

For our silk and cotton silk garments, we also recommend gentle cycle machine wash cold water or delicate hand washing to increase the life of the garment and reduce the environmental footprint from energy use, detergents and water wastage.

 

All garments have been washed several times during the printing/dyeing and manufacturing process.