It might seem absurd to suggest that buying more may lead to buying less, but I’ve been testing this theory for a few years now, so hear me out. Most people I know, myself included, spend most of our time wearing our wardrobe staples; the jeans, sweater, or shoes that made up our every day clothes. These have ended up being the pieces that I am most careful about with regards to fit, fabric, and quality. If it is the sweater you are going to wear all winter, or the shoes you’ll walk the dog in six months a year, they need to look good, last long, and feel good.
It’s quotes like this that make me wonder what outsiders think of the fashion industry. Here’s what Carine Roitfeld, Editor of Vogue Paris, has to say about wetsuits:
“I think wet suits are the new silhouette. They are the new outfit. It’s extremely classic with a Chanel jacket!” (The Cut.)
First of all, wetsuits aren’t really an outfit. If you aren’t in the process of doing some sort of water sport, you really have no reason to wear one. They are actually worse than wearing leggings as pants, because a wetsuit is like one giant body legging, so you are almost wearing “body stocking as outfit.” See where I am going here? This is not good.
There seems to be a new trend in the world of fashion start-ups. We aren’t seeing as many celebrity fashion companies or brand collaborations being launched (thank god!) but instead I’m seeing a lot of new companies who are selling themselves solely on their “story,” usually focused around the manufacturing.
You may have heard about these types of companies on Kickstarter or on social media – and sometimes on mainstream media. They are the companies who are selling a story: made in the USA, simple brand, timeless shapes, transparent pricing… Sound familiar? I wrote about two brands who operate like this a few weeks ago. And I happen to own a company who uses almost all of those lines as a selling point (except the last one, and we are made in Canada, but I digress…)
So you are probably wondering why I am about to start complaining about companies like this. I think it is important that people (especially the many clueless ones who are starting labels based on this premise) realize that these selling points aren’t enough to make a brand. When it comes to fashion, the product is most important. You can create a romantic story about working with small family-run factories and sourcing your organic, naturally-dyed fabrics from local mills and creating garments that are going to last for years and not end up in a landfill. But without a strong product, the rest of this stuff is pointless.
I wonder if Kim Kardashian, Jennifer Lopez, and Beyonce knew that their stylists called each other last weekend and said “Hey, let’s all put our clients in heinous side bum dresses so they look like a sequin monster vomitted over their naked bodies!” Last night’s Met Costume Institute Gala was a bad day for underwear companies, as it appears not many people were wearing any. But other than that, there were a few nice dresses, and a few ugly ones.
I’ve been feeling very disillusioned with the fashion industry lately. Actually, I’ve felt this way for a while, but right now the disillusionment is focused on retail. The downside to having a brand that is stocked with tons of great retailers is that you end up having to work with big players who are incredibly demanding. And that’s why I look at brands like Everlane and M Gemi and think: you are doing it right.
M Gemi is a recent addition to the direct to consumer fashion companies. In bypassing the wholesale route, these companies can offer a high end product at a very reasonable price, directly to their consumer. To better understand the markups, you can click onto an Everlane product, for example, this t-shirt, and if you scroll down, you can see the cost of the manufacturing, materials, shipping, and then retail (shown in the image above.)