Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Handmade rant (yes, I 'made' it myself)

Today I had an argument with myself which, I think, I ultimately won. Under recommendations of a co-worker, I took The Hoody to get a check-up at a tailor's shop that is, unfortunately, located in one of the world's biggest malls. I located the shop painlessly enough and had arrived shortly after opening time, so I didn't have to wade through seas of people to get there. However, I didn't quite find what I wanted, as the tailor herself convinced me that The Hoody fits my perfectly, and it's just me that has to be altered. I guess I'm just not used to stiff puffed sleeves. 

While this diagnosis saved $60, I decided that it was a good time to have a momentary freak-out time, as The Hoody still seems only 99.99% perfect to me. While this would've been okay at a lower price, that unfixable (or, at least unfixable by a tailor) 0.01% bothers me, especially because of that added and quite exorbitant customs fee. So then I questioned my whole set of consumer morals, namely: Is it really worth paying much more for handmade clothing, rather than buying affordable store-bought stuff?

So then I went to the store where I got the original hoody that I got married in. I've visited that store in its various locations a handful of times in an attempt to find a replacement, and have never been able to. Today however, there was a huge table of hoodies of the same brand (Song), at a price of 2 for $60. $30 each! I almost choked. My first response was to find my size and buy two as quick as possible. But then I looked at one more closely. First of all, they don't have the special details that my marriage hoody does, indicating the inevitable drop in quality of the brand over the last 4 years. Secondly, the fabric content was 60% cotton, 40% polyester. I'm a cotton hoody girl through and through, and will only accept Lycra or spandex combinations. Lastly, and most importantly, while is says 'designed in Canada', the hoodies are, not surprisingly, made in China.

These three things were enough to snap me back into reality, in which buying sweatshop-made clothing from chain stores frequented by 99% of pre-teens and scenesters is just plain wrong. It's true that, when I began buying handmade clothing from DiY sellers on eBay, it was the same price or cheaper than shopping in stores that I liked. However, once I began to buy more than I usually would have in a mall, and then when I discovered the plethora of talent on Etsy and Not Just a Label, I definitely began to spend much more on clothing than I ever would have imagined. I'm not suggesting that this is necessary; you don't need to feel obligated to support every indie designer out there, or to buy the more expensive pieces to provide more food for that person's table. However, I don't feel good supporting a large corporation that condones modern slave labour, and I simply feel happy buying a piece that supports labels which are predominately run by a single person. Furthermore, I believe that such a person is definitely justified to charge more money for a piece that is designed, cut, sewn, packaged, and shipped by them alone. And with the wonder that is Etsy, it's still possible to find pieces that are more suited to your budget (for example, in the world of hoodies, Black Market Baby's Belted Hoodie comes in at $80 and is available in 3 sizes and 3 colours) if you aren't ready to buy that investment piece from your Favorites or an indie designer's website. Having said that, my conscience is happily clear whether I spend a little or a lot when I know exactly where the piece came from and who is making an honest living from the money. So, from myself and The Hoody to that $30 hoody - take that!

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