Monday, 24 October 2016
slow fashion october: handmade
whew, so this past week's topic for slow fashion october is really hitting me in the heart muscle - handmade. why do i feel this one so much? well, just have a read through of the topic breakdown:
How do you understand your style, choose projects well, advance your skills, get the right fit, and keep things interesting and long-lasting at the same time. What are your go-to patterns and most successful garments. How do you avoid mindless acquisition of yarn and fabric, or making “too much.” How do you make time and space for making — and why?
lately, i've been analyzing these questions at a very deep level. i'm doing chelsea fitch's fibreboss college course, and it's been forcing me to really look at my practice and why i do what i do. i'm also scared that i'm stagnating right now - there's not enough time to do everything i want to do, so instead i just get stuck and only do parts of things, or nothing at all (which i know isn't accurate, because i'm constantly making and churning out new designs, but i still feel stuck lately). and sales are, well, slow. slow for what i want them to be. for what i know they could be. for what i need them to be to make this a successful business venture that will eventually actually pay my bills and maybe even a living wage someday. i feel like i'm not connecting with as wide of an audience as i could be, in as significant a way as i hope to. so, it comes down to why. why am i doing this? why do i make? why do i design? is it really only for me? how do i make a business that connects with a lot of people in a deep and meaningful way, while still staying true to myself and who i am as a person (re: queer, witch, practical femme, awkward, anxious, feminist, activist...so many things that don't fit the comfortable status quo, and i'm not particularly quiet about any of them)?
i haven't figured out the answer for those questions yet. but what i have started to figure out, in tiny baby steps, is how to keep myself in my brand. my photoshoots are primarily selfie-style these days, in my studio, which allows me to control the whole look of everything. i have bones and tarot decks and driftwood for props, and bold lipstick, and tattoos out on display, and often an outfit i've made specifically to fit the style i have in my head for that particular shoot. i'm hoping that i'll get a bit more time soon to start taking shots of friends again too, because there are a couple of folks who are a dream to photograph and who really show off my style on different faces and bodies. i'm choosing to not hide the messy parts of myself (the emotional part, the anxious part, the part that's terrified of failure even if i view "failure" as opportunities for learning and growth), and i'm learning how to craft those parts of me into the story of my brand.
and here's the biggest part - i'm learning that even if my sales are slow and a big instagram success for me is 100 likes on a post instead of 1000 and i feel like so many people are jumping ahead of me by leaps and bounds...it doesn't matter, as long as the things i make and the designs i release are things that i care about. like i said at the beginning, there's not enough time to do everything i want to do. so if i'm going to spend hours on a project, it should be something i like and am proud of. whether i'm the one who ends up wearing it after the photos are done or it flies across hundreds of miles to a new home with a dear one, it needs to be something that will be loved and cherished and appreciated. because that's why we make, or at least why i make. the whole point of slow fashion (beyond the politics, and the environmental and social impact, and the layers of privilege stacked on top of being able to make your own clothes from sources that are as ethical as possible) is to make things with love, that will be used year in and year out, and maybe even passed down through generations. kind of like the story about the blanket, that became a coat, that became a hanky, that became a patch. items that are worn so hard with use that they literally melt into us. and with the melting, comes the loving. because we put ourselves into each stitch we make, our hopes and dreams and intentions and emotions and fears and hearts. and those stitches make up a thing, and that thing gets used, and the user gets infected, just a little bit maybe, with all of those stitches and what they hold. it's why i love to make things for people i love, and why these days i only make for the people i love who also understand how precious my time is and how the thing that they receive is a labour of that love. a darling, wonderful, cherished labour for me.
so, i make things that i want to wear, and that the people i'm making for will also want to wear. there's only so much element of surprise in my making these days. i work with preferred colours (which in my case these days, is falling more and more into the neutrals and fall tones, resulting in some serious destashing needing to happen for those brighter colours still kicking around), and with items that will receive good wear. and high quality fibres, which in my own wardrobe is becoming more and more frequently pure wools, or silks or linens. my book collection has grown extensively in the past year, with new stitchionaries joining the library, books with new natural dyeing techniques, garment construction, sewing patterns that teach me new skills...and i take workshops where i can. i don't ever want to stop learning. there is always something incredible that can be picked up, and new depths to push our practices to, and new skills to push us out of our comfort zones. i want to still be trying new things when i'm in my nineties. which means i can't stop now. so that i guess, my friends, is my why. or at least part of it.