Bespoke Cutter And Tailor

Apprentices => The Apprentice's Forum => Topic started by: hutch-- on March 12, 2016, 10:08:34 PM

Title: The down side of mass production garments.
Post by: hutch-- on March 12, 2016, 10:08:34 PM
This is a slave labour pit in Atuntaqui Ecuador and this is not a bad one, some places in Bangladesh have collapsed and killed a number of the workers. Fortunately many RTW and MTM manufacturers have something like civilised facilities for their workforce but it is by no means universal. Parts of Indo-China have the most appalling conditions, low wages and long hours for their clothing manufacturing workforce. Apart from the ethics of poor working conditions and low wages, often the quality is poor and this is where a hand made garment shines when properly made. Better fit, higher quality stitching and often better choice of material.

Title: Re: The down side of mass production garments.
Post by: Robin R on March 13, 2016, 04:38:09 AM
This is always a thought provoking and complicated issue Hutch. I suspect that many middle-income earners in North American were appalled in 2013 when the Rana Plaza factory collapsed and 1,100 workers were killed. It hit home when the list of North American retailers who contracted with that factory was released and many of us recognized companies that we deal with on a daily basis, directly or indirectly. We all had blood on our hands.

But what is the solution? North American consumers demand the products that these factories produce and manufacturers move their production off-shore in order to be competitive. Are the products they produce made of high quality fabric, are they constructed to last? No and no -- but sadly this is what the majority of North American consumers want to buy.

I personally do not buy cheap, mass produced clothing because I am a middle-aged, middle-income woman and spend most of my time locked away in a studio designing and constructing costumes. No one cares what I look like and I am well beyond being concerned about those sorts of things. That being said if I do buy RTW I go with the old maxim of buying one very good quality garment that will last for years rather than five poorly constructed pieces made out of inferior fabric.

However, I am also a business woman -- in order to sell my products I must be competitive. As much as I would like to use high quality, locally produced fabrics I cannot because the price is prohibitive. I do not mass produce pieces so I cannot purchase in bulk. To make a Regency style dress-coat I need 3 metres of fabric plus lining, interfacing, buttons, etc. I can sell that coat for $500 Canadian -- if I purchase high quality fabric I am basically working for free if not in the hole. I have no idea where the wool that I use is produced but I am certain it is off-shore -- otherwise I wouldn't be paying $25/metre.

I'm not sure what the solution is . . .

Title: Re: The down side of mass production garments.
Post by: hutch-- on March 13, 2016, 05:36:53 AM
Hi Robin,

I think the practical solution is mixed sourcing as the supply world is becoming increasingly more international. With thread for example, I personally use a combination of Amann Rasant and other specialised type and Coats Astra, Gramax and a few others that are respectively German and English but I am also aware that they are starting to diversify to other countries. The rough distinction I keep is being happy enough to use products that are produced with technology like fabrics and threads, buttons and normal haberdashery but I am not willing to buy things that are produced in slave labour conditions in 3rd world countries.

Just for example some years ago I tried out a pair of track pants from KMART which cost about $10.00 at the time and they fitted like a sack of spuds, were not all that comfortable to wear and were no particularly robust. For about the same cost in fabric I can make a pair in a reasonable time frame that fit the first time, are stitched together properly and are almost ME proof.

The advantage of a specialist like yourself is in the quality/cost ratio. An individual cannot compete with massive operations in 3rd world countries that have machinery, supply chains and distribution networks on an industrial scale but they cannot compete with your flexibility, quality control, design and individual fitting skills so there is a path of attack for the specialist. Somewhere between the 10,000 pounds Saville Row garment and the $10.00 KMART horror is where the specialist can hit the mark by catering for people who don't want junk but don't need to sell their house to buy clothing.
Title: Re: The down side of mass production garments.
Post by: Greger on March 13, 2016, 12:30:04 PM
So much is knowing how to market ones skills, ones self. There are plenty of people who can spend $500 on an evening meal. You make your products sound like something they want and they will be at your door with cash in hand. Advertising in the right venues and they will notice. How you approach the wealthy customers matters. Some tailors if they knew how to do this they would earn far larger salary. When I was a boy tailors were the elite. Not name brands. Name brands gained some footage by manipulation of "Cool!" People with money had their "Cool!" clothes made by tailors, because they fit better (so comfortable) and look better (no drags and so on). Lots of tailors limited their work to a few garment styles, such as suits, but some could make anything. Custom really isn't in competition with Mass-production.