In the last few weeks there have been several articles about fashion houses that made cultural “mistakes.” I am not surprised by these actions; I am just surprised at everyone’s surprise.
I gave up on haute couture back in the 80’s when Hilfiger and Claiborne declared that they did not make their stuff for, “those people”. While they eventually retracted their statements, such retractions were not a result of having seen any light but fiscal the bottom line. In fact, it was Hilfiger’s marketing department who shut him down, and resulted in directives to retailers, asking them to place stock in easy stealing positions in Black neighbourhoods. They realised that while they may not have intended us to wear their cloths, if we didn’t no one else would either.
Furthermore, the fashion industry has been historically hostile to women in general; fostering unhealthy body images and reducing standards of beauty to a very tight definition. Thankfully, I never got to caught up in this as my body made it clear they were not talking to or about me.
So my question, particularly to BIPOC, is why the hell are you still giving them your money and even a moment of your attention? Moreover, how long till folks realise that these mistakes they’re making is GREAT marketing for them. They get you to post their name everywhere for FREE! All it takes is a quick apology and their brand is protected. If it was really costing anything to make such mistakes do you think they would still be doing it?
It is not the 1% that keeps these folks in business, as it is not their high fashion lines that put food on their table. No, the high fashion lines exist to convince the naïve that if they buy the down market lines, they are rubbing shoulders with the 1%.
It never fails to surprise me how humans will cut off their noses to spite their faces. We go into great credit card debt to buy this crap, change our wardrobe every year, and ship our more than still wearable gear to landfills – don’t kid yourself, about 2/3 of what we put in those donation boxes wind up in landfills. I won’t even go into the environmental cost of making/transporting some of that stuff.
I get the desire to look and feel good, but do we really need to drop the equivalent of a month’s rent on a shopping spree?
When it comes down to it, what is truly insane: the fashion industry that keeps making the same “mistakes”, or us, consistently forgiving them so we can go on indebting ourselves to them?
I have to admit, it was Oprah that changed me on this when she had her audience calculate the real cost for an item, in terms of hours worked . Do I really want to work 35 hours for a pair of shoes, even if the heel is a pretty red? Or how about 100 hours for a single dress. Or would you rather work those hours, then go on a fabulous vacation? Build up that nest egg for a home? Retire and eat something other than cat food?
While I am at it, I should also mention the problems we are all perpetuating with race to the bottom pricing. You have to know that when you purchase a 5$ t-shirt you are purchasing work from some sweat shop on the other side of the world. You have to know that when you buy something at Walmart that costs 3$ less than elsewhere, Walmart has used its/your purchasing power to strong arm some distributer into cutting costs to the point of undermining jobs and fair wages.
Sure we are all tight on cash, and sometimes you have to save a buck where you can. Instead of buying the cheapest goods however, would it not be better to pay a little more, get better quality and make it last longer?
In the end, our karma is in our own hands, and ignorance will be no defense. If we want it to be different, we need to do different.