There's a Globe and Mail essay, As a Plus-Sized Woman, I Have a Right to Buy Clothing That Fits My Body currently floating around on the web. It appeared in the paper earlier last week. It's a piece that echoes what many have found out about ready-to-wear. And many of the issues she describes can easily be related to any sized person.
[Clothes] are shoddily designed and executed with poor fabrics... Most women I know would be delighted to find stores stocked with tops and pants made from breathable fabrics – cotton, linen and other natural materials.
I agree with the author, Katherine Adlam, that the modern day retail landscape offers an over abundance of polyester and other fabrics that do not breath well. I see it here whenever I'm window shopping at my local mall and creeping into the fabric stores as well. Her comments about bling
dressing covering up shapeless styles echoes Elizabeth L. Cline's insights found in Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion on the same issue.
But can we, the consumers of ready-to-wear clothing and cheap polyester fabric, be to blame? Nothing is cheap unless you exploit someone in the process. Is our desire for convenience and our want for things to be cheap driving this shift towards shapeless polyester products. And in turn, consumers are the ones that are exploited along with the underpaid garment workers who create cheap fashion. It is interesting to read that the author of this piece still demands quality from the retail market when there are talented seamstresses and tailors who are willing and able to provide the product this consumer is seeking. I wonder if the author lives in a area where someone could provide this service? Although, she does mention her desire for quality supplies and techniques.
And please use good threads and finish your seams properly. Nothing is worse for anyone than a seam unravelling, revealing our plump bodies in all their glory.
Do consumers have the right to demand quality fabrics, threads and seam finishes if they're not looking at what is driving the shift in standards, style and fit. The author thinks that it is her "right" to demand such luxuries from a fast-fashion environment. Good for her! But it is a long journey back to the yellow brick road.
Home sewists appreciate the time and skill that goes into creating a quality and stylish garment that fits. It is one of the many reasons that we sew. But I also find that good quality fabrics, threads, trims are becoming scarce in the retail landscape as well.
I think Adlam's piece is not only a call for a wake up call to the skills many have discarded over the past decades and that we all have to become more vocal. The comments section to this article are equally an interesting read. Many have commented about learning how to sew because they were seeking many qualities not found in the retail landscape. It makes me thankful for the people who inspire me in my sewing journey, the skills and equipment that I have acquired over the years, and that Mama R and I are not limited to the choices offered in the current retail market.