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The Value of Clothes – Sew to Know

One of the things I really love about making my own clothes and teaching others to do the same is understanding of the value of clothes.

In the fast paced, fast fashion society that we live in when you can buy a dress for less than the price of a cup of coffee, clothing has become seriously de-valued.

Clothing has become devalued

You realise how much work is involved in creating a finished garment, when you start to sew your own clothes. It opens your eyes to see the disconnect between these low priced items online, in our high street and in our supermarkets.

How can something, that takes so much, time, skill and effort to create, cost so little?

As you learn to sew, you learn to cut out the fabric and sew the garment together with the many smaller processes involved in this such as inserting zips, sewing buttonholes, or topstitching. All of which require skill and precision.

When you learn to sew, you realise that these skills take time and practice to master. Not everyone can sit down at a sewing machine and make a flawless garment first time. (But with time & practice and some lessons with me 😉 you’ll get there!)

You look at shop bought clothes in a new light. You examine the stitching, techniques and methods used. And you realise that the quality is often not fantastic! You start to understand the value of clothes.

Garment manufacture and sewing is a skill that is still done by hand; it is not automated. (I don’t mean hand sewing, I mean that a human being has to operate the sewing machines that make the garments.)

You also start to understand fabric costs and quality. Very often you couldn’t buy the fabric for the cost of the finished garment in the shops.

The value of clothes suddenly hits you like a lightning bolt!

Clothing costs much more than they are charging in the shops! Someone somewhere must be getting short-changed! And believe me it isn’t the big companies who are losing out!

We see the big corporations getting richer and richer, even throughout a global pandemic.

Whereas the garment workers lives and livelihoods are at risk.

During the Pandemic (correct as of January 2021 – source PayUpFashion.com) :

  • The wages of garment workers have dropped by 21%.
  • Brands lowered the prices paid to factories another 12%.
  • The 20 most profitable brands increased their market value by 11%.

“Without garment workers, there is no fashion — yet the fashion industry abandoned these 70 million workers during coronavirus. They died on the job from Covid-19 while making face masks. Workers went hungry as brands refused to pay them for billions of dollars’ worth of clothes already sewn and shipped. And they were imprisoned for standing up for their basic human rights. 

Garment workers around the globe work tirelessly for us and for the fashion labels that we love without financial or legal security. Fashion brands earn millions in profits each year, and yet year after year, garment workers keep fighting for survival. It doesn’t have to be this way. 

Post-pandemic, going back to business as usual is not an option. For us to feel good in our clothes, fashion’s most essential workers must be paid fairly and have safety and security at work. As garment workers, organizers, and fashion-lovers, we are saying enough.”

PayUpFashion.com

Pay Up Fashion is a movement that is calling out fashion brands to support the garment workers that have been abandoned by the industry. You can find out more here.

They are asking them to commit to these seven actions.

The Value of Clothes
Image Credits: Payupfashion.com
  1. Pay Up – if the brands don’t pay up for orders placed, millions of workers will go hungry.
  2. Keep Workers Safe – many brands returned to profitability by the end of 2020, Pay Up Fashion demands that brands share their profits and protect the workers that make their clothes.
  3. Go Transparent – Brands and retailers will commit to giving data on where their clothes are made, how much the workers are paid and how they are treated in an easily accessible public format.
  4. Give Workers Centre-Stage – No more brand-led, brand-funded discussions on workers’ rights. Brands and retailers, along with all major coalitions, organizations, and conferences shaping the future of fashion must ensure at least 50% representation of women worker voices.
  5. Sign Enforceable Contracts – Unenforceable agreements and codes of conduct protect retailer and brand executives and shareholder interests while pushing risk onto already vulnerable workers. We need enforceable, legally-binding contracts that put workers first.
  6. End Starvation Wages – Garment workers make rock-bottom wages and are on the brink of starvation and homelessness, while brands shore up millions for shareholders and executives. Studies confirm that brands cause poverty wages by paying low prices to factories. Companies must publicly commit to paying prices that lift workers out of poverty.
  7. Help Pass Laws – A quarter-century of voluntary efforts to reform the fashion industry have been ineffective. Brands and retailers must support rather than thwart the work of citizens and government to reform corporate power, labour laws, and trade deals.

What can you do?

  • Shop at brands that have already made a commitment – see Brand Tracker here.
  • Continue to make your own clothes and understand the value of clothes. Find out how I can help you Learn to Sew Here.
  • Love your clothes. Loved clothes last. Repair and alter as required.
  • Buy less, choose well, make it last!

Love & stitches ===

Alison xx

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