And yet, I am the demographic that these retailers are targeting. Female, urban, professional, 30 years old, childless, interested in fashion, and with a certain amount of "disposable" income. (Problem is, I would much rather dispose of my income in a fabric store.) The attitude among my peers seems to be that anything cute and cheap is a great thing. But, as many people have pointed out, this kind of fast fashion isn't harmless. Its victims are the people who make the clothes for less than a living wage, as well as the environment.
I was interested that commenter Hanna brought up the idea that perhaps vintage fashion/sewing is a reaction to this fast fashion culture of disposable clothing that we live in. She resisted the notion that raunch culture, as I proposed, was at play here and made a very compelling argument for her point of view:
I've really enjoyed reading this discussion and the older one about vintage fashion and gender politics. Can I suggest another modern trend that fans of vintage clothes might be reacting against? It is 'throwaway culture' or whatever you like to call it - the way you can buy items of clothing (or indeed lots of other things) for astonishingly low prices, the kind of prices that make it cheaper to replace something when it wears out rather than repair it. As several other people have pointed out, sewing vintage patterns is a way of connecting with the skills of the past . . . Perhaps we also like to connect with the attitude of that past, when even mass-produced clothing was generally of a higher quality and cost more relative to other household goods than it does now, and was therefore less disposable and more cherished.Well said, Hanna!
I think she's on to something. Have we perhaps gotten so fed up with the unethical way stores churn out cheap clothes that we've turned to sewing to counteract it?
Of course, it's also easy to get into a mindset of fast fashion even when sewing. As I pointed out yesterday, I often get into the mindset of "fast sewing:" trying to make more and more projects, and practically turning my sewing room into a sweat shop. And many pattern companies seem to be gravitating more to "one-hour" projects. Are we really in such a hurry?
But, at the heart of Hanna's point is the idea that when you sew something, you cherish it and honor it. When you buy it at H&M, it's more likely to end up as a cleaning rag (or in a landfill) by the next season.
Thank you, Hanna, for your excellent points. If any others have theories on the return to vintage fashion and sewing, you know I'd love to hear them.