2018 has been a good year to me. I came to so many realizations. First, I started paying close attention to the ‘Sew Heidi’ Podcast, which I’d subscribed to earlier, and discovered a goldmine in there. Next, I signed on for several other fashion-related podcasts where there was more gold to be mined. Now I have an idea on how to proceed in creating a fashion label; how to either bootstrap or get funding for launching your fashion label; how to run a kick-starter campaign; where to manufacture small batches in the US; where to get professional pattern makers, etc. I might not fully understand everything yet, but at least now I know that all these things are possible.
I have learnt a lot more about the fashion industry, much more than I understood before. Now I know why I was uncomfortable when I conceived of the idea of getting back into fashion back in 2017. First, I noticed not only how much cheaper everything was, but also the poor quality of the fabric choice on the market currently. I remember wondering if there was any room for me. Then I had yet to understand the concept of fast fashion; all I could derive was that something was wrong, much as I couldn’t quite put my finger on it.
YouTube channels that push fast fashion made me uncomfortable, I wasn’t quite sure why. But when I commit, I commit, so I watched them religiously. Still, I knew quite early on that my channel wouldn’t be about that. If you’ve watched my ‘Minimalist’ YouTube video posted in March of 2017, you will see that I intended for the Grey Dynasty channel to be more about sharing experiences than about material things. Then I thought it was because I was on a minimalism journey, but now I know my reluctance was borne from a more fundamental reason.
Also, if these clothes are being sold at throwaway prices, someone has to be paying the price. I wondered who until I watched the Netflix movie, ‘The True Cost’, which sadly answered that question for me. I felt lost. I could not in good conscious take up fashion again and contribute to the disenfranchising of whole populations!
As I flew the skies I weighed my options. I could walk away from the industry and find something else to do all together, or I could find out more about the industry and see where my vision for my brand fits in. As I kept researching and reading up, a picture began to form, a whole ‘opposing’ movement to fast fashion emerged from the ruins of the Rana Plaza, a tragedy in Bangladesh where a building collapsed killing over a thousand garment workers on April 24th 2013.
As tragedies normally do, this one galvanized the fashion industry into action, and what has emerged since is a push for more responsible practices within the industry, both environmentally as well as socially -Rana must never be allowed to happen again. My heart, dream and vision has found a home amongst these ruins; here I can make a difference by contributing positively to the industry I love.
Discovering slow fashion has been redeeming for me. As a designer, I take pride in my work; the thought that it could be undervalued is unpleasant. The slow fashion movement gives space for designers to create slowly, thoughtfully, fairly. The madness of fast fashion currently has a 52 fashion cycle per year, which translates to shops needing restocking of new designs weekly. I see no need for that. I’m not sure who truly needs a new dress every week. Slow fashion deals with durability, functionality, there’s no mad dash to restock as clothes are made well and last longer.
As my journey continues, there’s a lot I’m yet to determine. I will make mistakes as is normal when on any learning curve. But I’ll figure it out and keep moving forward with positivity and good intentions. For Rana to not happen again, for us not to be buried under fast fashion, I’ll do my part to produce responsibly and sustainably. It might take the collective, but it starts with the individual who then makes up the collective. Cheers, Grey ღ. Ps: Pictures taken in Brussels Belgium.