If you follow me over on Twitter, you may have noticed some fellow bloggers, a few lingerie designers and I discussing fakes and knock offs. Recently there’s been a lot of rumbling on various sites from other internet users, bemoaning the price of sweatshop free goods, leaving the respected designers increasingly frustrated whilst suffering cheaper imitations of their handiwork. In addition to this, those who copy their styles are applauded. Supporting independent and ethical brands is something I’m extremely passionate about and as a buyer it frustrates me seeing people try and ride other designers coat-tails to success, or potential buyers dismissing the prices of items as if the designer doesn’t deserve to earn a living wage (many still don’t). I can’t imagine how painful and frustrating it is for the designers themselves. I considered writing a long and lecturing post about why you shouldn’t support fakes but in reality it wouldn’t beneficial to anyone. I knew I wanted to do something and there are people out there far more eloquent than I who have done years of research and have shared this information in the public domain, making it easily accessible for all who are interested. Thus, I’ve collected together all the useful information I could find and put it into one handy guide. This guide will not only explain why those ethical pants you like are the price they are but why it’s so important to buy from brands that use ethical labour. While I know many people do not have a flexible income, it’s about spending your money wisely. Remember; simple, comfortable and well fitting bra and pants are a NEED. A tutu garter belt or love heart choker are a WANT. If you have to go cheap on your needs due to budgetary constraints that is understandable but do not go cheap on your wants for the sake of instant gratification.
To Die For (Is Fashion Wearing Out the World) by Lucy Siegle
I read this book just before leaving university and it changed the way I shopped forever. While I knew about sweatshops, I chose to ignore it, telling myself that as a student I couldn’t afford expensive things and deserved yet another cheap item. All it took was that information to be repackaged in a slighly different way to give me the kick up the arse and finally alter how I shop.
Siegle is a journalist specialising in ethical and ecological lifestyle matters and this book is an in-depth look at the monster that is now the fast fashion industry. This exposé covers exactly what the West needs for mass market fashion is doing to both the workers who make said items and the planet. The book is heavy on the ethics and full of horrifying statistics. However Siegle does offer plenty of solutions for what you as a consumer can do to help.
How To Set Up and Run a Fashion Label by Toby Medow
An easily digestible break down on what it takes to set up and maintain a fashion business; closely translating to the lingerie industry. This book covers a lot of things I hadn’t really considered that a designer might have to take into consideration when setting up their own business, even mentioning the possibly of renegotiating their mortgage agreement on their house if they decided to establish their business at home.
How Luxury Lost it’s Lustre by Dana Thomas
Recommended to myself by Gaby of the often imitated Hopeless Lingerie and seconded by Vanessa of Alexandrea Anissa, Thomas’ book covers how luxury fashion went from family run businesses of skilled designers and tailors to a frenzied multi-million dollar market of “must-haves” and life style statements. Thus the fast fashion and mass produced goods industry was born to fit the increasingly demanding fashion hungry Western population. Thomas examines how this has affected the luxury industry and the ethical consequences of our need for instant and ever changing fashion trends.
The True Cost
The trailer for this documentary was enough to make me well up, this harrowing documentary shows the cost that humans, the planet and wildlife are all having to pay for our rampant consumerism.
Sweatshop: Deadly Fashion (or Dead Cheap Fashion)
A Norwegian Documentary where three fashion bloggers are sent to Cambodia to face the realities that is life for those working in the textile industry.
The Secrets of the Superbrands (Fashion)
While this documentary doesn’t focus on how items are made or how a fashion business works, it does cover how marketing from luxury and mass market retailers can cause frenzy, leaving consumers with a lust for needing the latest trends or goods, fueling the fake and rip off markets. I have began to notice that the online lingerie community is heading in the same direction as the online fashion community, brands and certain “looks” are becoming “must haves” and it’s becoming more about social status and “getting the look” than the appreciation of good craftsmanship.
This documentary follows the personal stories of three Bangladeshi garment workers and the President of the National Garment Workers Federation, showing the real impact that fast fashion has on the lives of garment workers.
// TED Talks
The Wardrobe to Die For by Lucy Siegle
The ‘To Die For’ author and environmental issues journalist gives a talk on what she calls “Fashion By Numbers”. Siegle shares some shocking statistics about the fashion industry and its effects on the world.
Changing the World Through Fashion by Eva Kruse
Eva Kruse is the CEO of Copenhagen Fashion Summit. In her talk she discusses on what we can do individually to improve our carbon footprint while discussing the environmental and social impact of the fashion industry.
How to Engage in Ethical Fashion by Clara Vuletich
Clara Vuletich is a designer, researcher and consultant. She has worked in the sustainable fashion space in UK and Europe for ten years, and is now based in Sydney, Australia. Her talk is on how she works with fashion brands to consider the life span of a garment, the garments impact on both the planet and human rights and her attempts to change the fashion industry from the inside.
The High Cost of Our Cheap Fashion by Maxine Bédat
Maxine Bédat is the co-founder and CEO of Zady, a fashion brand and lifestyle destination creating a transparent and sustainable future for the $1.5 trillion apparel industry. In this video, she discusses the impact of fast fashion on both the planet and human rights and how to take back control of your wardrobe.
The force behind the ‘Who Made Your Clothes’ campaign, Fashion Revolution have been demanding the industry pay attention and be open about their business practises and encouraging buyers to ask “Who made my clothes?”
This website acts as a behind the scenes news outlet for the apparel and textile industry. While it’s really industry heavy, there are regular updates on how the Chinese Manufacturing Industry is evolving, who has signed the Bangladesh Safety Accord in addition to providing articles on problems within the supply trade.
// Blog Posts
Jeanna Kadlec of Blue Stockings Boutique recently posted the handy This is Why Your Ethically Made Bras Cost More. She regularly updates her blog with transparent posts surrounding the establishment and running of her own niche business, supporting ethical, indie and queer designers.
Many contributes over on The Lingerie Addict have interesting and really relevant posts on the lingerie market that it’s hard for me to pick only a few. Articles such as The Real Cost of Cheap Lingerie, How Much Do Lingerie Designers Actually Make?, No, You Don’t Deserve Luxury Lingerie and the Why Is Lingerie so Expensive series
Lingerie designer Karolina Laskowska runs the blog Knickerbocker Stories, where she discuses the behind the scenes of running a lingerie brand. She has a fantastic series called Why Don’t More Indie Brands Make Wired Bras?, discussing the challenges and costs faced by those involved in small scale lingerie manufacturing.
Karolina not only writes for her own blog but for The Lingerie Addicts as well. Since I first published this post, she has written several great industry based articles including Show Me the Money: How Do Lingerie Designers Balance Creativity and Commercial Viability? and What Does Copying Mean for Independent Designers?
If you aren’t even sure what classifies as a fake or a knock off, there’s a handy guide over on the Esty Lingerie Blog to help you understand the difference between counterfeits, knock offs and trends.