It was a bit dreary yesterday. Below average temperature for late April, plus the clouds with a few drops of rain. On the way to grocery shopping, I looked at what I have to wear. I didn’t pack much when I decided to move back to the US. Literally, one bag that you can wear on the shoulder; small enough to be a hand-carry, yet large enough to be check-in luggage too. As you can imagine, not much to choose from after rotating a few of the same shirts and sweaters, with one heavier jacket.
So, went on a scavenger hunt. Nope, not in the malls or shops. But in my mother’s room when she’s here to stay with my brother while visiting the US. Obviously, there’s not much I can choose from as it’s mostly ladies apparel. However, I came across this off-white/beige corduroy outer jacket. I picked it up and saw the label. Oh, it’s produced and manufactured by my mother in the 90’s. Actually, the design was for ladies – with the bigger collar and the buttons and corresponding slits that are on the different side than men’s. Looked further in detail – a huge ‘SAMPLE’ marked on the lining.
I thought for a moment. Let me try to make it work for me, since I’m bored with the same old darker color jacket that i’ve been wearing for the entire winter.
Not that I’m a fashionista or someone who can function a sewing machine, I just picked up a few safety pins…
While I’m figuring it how I can wear it. I’ve noticed a few things.
Fashion is an art form, yet it’s a necessity. It’s not like we can just wear a toga or sarong and go to work. There are many types of wear – from couture to evening wear to work suits to preppy to casual to ready-to-wear. Of course, the list is never ending with words to describe what type of wear and/or style.
I’ve noticed from my mother’s sample jacket and looked at its TAILORING AND CONSTRUCTION.
As much as ready-to-wear is basically mass production of affordable and/or up-to-date fashion designs that’s in-line with what you see at Fashion Week in New York or Paris. Not everyone can afford a Prada suit. So there is a need for ready-to-wear. But how is ready-to-wear has become so ‘whatever’? Not sure about women’s wear, but why I say that is because – let’s say I go and shop for a casual shirt. The price ranges from around $40-$80 dollars? Yes, the price variance offer choices and according to everyone’s own budget. However, to be honest. Most shirts now, at that given price range – it’s all the same.
Therefore, learning a bit from my mom when i was a little kid – running around in her office annoying every single staff… and following her to go shopping for my siblings, herself or myself. Most of the time, she’d say – what? That’s how much? Like what most parents would say. Yes, the price is one thing – my mom goes deeper other than the price. She looks at the tailoring and construction. She would know exactly: how many stitches in one inch; what type of sewing machine/needle. She picks up the garment and one smudge, she can tell you exactly what material: cotton, linen, polyester, nylon, silk – sometimes, even tell you the weight of the fabric at what ‘mm’. Furthermore, she would inspect the garment like a hidden bomb is going to explode! She looks at the construction. Then she evaluates, along with the design and construction – does it worth what the price is.
I’ve noticed that from a few of the shirts that I have. I figured out that there is only so fast you can produce and manufacture a piece of garment.
Back in the 90’s, when i hung out at mom’s sample room playing with the machines on making fabric wrapped buttons – yep, very 90’s! Of course, there’s the long big table, like the ones you see in Project Runway – those table are actually for layers of fabric being layered on with paper stencils of each patch that requires to construct the garment when it’s cut.
Having that in mind – that was used to be done by hand. Of course, it moved on to computerized layouts to maximize each yard of fabric. The thing I’d like to say is are we relying too much on computer generated results that we forgot how to use our human input?
I’m not saying that the old way is better. It’s probably too slow to meet the demand and consumer needs. However, as mentioned – fashion is an art form. Total reliance of a computer generated results is all based on a set guided program and commands. I think it kind of hinders the flexibility and creativity of fashion?
Not only so, everything changes so fast now with some brands with their retail stores changes a new line twice every season? Or that each line has so many pieces for one season? What does this mean? It means that I think much of the care that should be given in the processes of tailoring and construction in garment manufacturing have been left as unimportant or simply non-existent anymore.
The garment manufacturing business is VICIOUSLY COMPETITIVE. With the pace that ready-to-wear is going, it’s simply a snowball rolling down a steep hill. It’s pushing designers to come up with ‘half-ass’ designs. It skipped the input of producers to work with designers to come up with the best possible solution to manufacture the garment with thought and care. If forces the production line to work at crazy hour schedules.
And – did you know that each piece of garment, the manufacturer only gets a few, very few dollars after all costs are deducted?
Maybe there is more ways of producing garments? I don’t know. But the way it works now is definitely not a good sign for fashion as a whole. Eventually, it’ll be very much like the income disparity problems in comparison. You either have to go with the super luxury brands if you can afford it; or, it becomes the very generic same things across the board; or you’d be shopping at second hand/vintage stores.
Anyway, to wrap it up for today. Here’s what I did to make my mom’s 90’s sample into a guy’s jacket… Laugh out loud. Those who are in the know – look at the construction. Comes from years of experience.