Markets and retailers – they drive a hard (unreasonable?) bargain
Well, it has been a challenging summer in London. Enjoyable, with many ups and downs. The highs have been impromptu nights with friends, spent laughing and savoring their food and their company. The lows, being given a glimpse into the hardships of capital city life, especially for the many who are struggling to make ends meet, and then experiencing it directly by having my belongings stolen from a shop in Central London.
The perception of value has been a running theme throughout my stay in London. I watch people eager to consume but seemingly unaware of, or disinterested in the processes and relationships involved in the objects that they choose to buy. I make handmade underwear, each piece is unique and the fabrics, design and fit have been given a degree of thought and attention, not to mention love, that just does not exist in the stores on our high street and online. Many of the materials I use are upcycled which adds another dimension of value to what I make. I source clothing from friends and second-hand clothes stores, carefully scrutinizing it for a long list of qualities; fibre quality, handfeel (touch), quality of stretch, aesthetics, colour, cleanliness, suitability for underwear, and probably many intuitive subtle assessments for intrinsic qualities that are almost unconsciousness due to my long relationship with and love for fabrics. This in-depth qualitative assessment (perception of qualities) of materials now appears to be largely lacking both in the clothing industry and in society in general.
I have also found that the disconnection of monetary value and process (how/where/what the clothing is made of) is still very strong here. At the markets I have attended people seem to question only the monetary value of the knickers I make…not the process – and so the logical conclusion for them seems to be, why should I buy these one pair of knickers when I could get 3 for the ‘same’* price (*from a huge retailer with dubious social and environmental practice – exploiting the many to benefit the few.)
So, it is when I encounter those who do love and appreciate the other values and dimensions that come connected with the knickers I make that I am given the energy to go on. It is when someone completes a ‘knicker making kit’ and declares that they ‘never would have thought I could make them as good as this!!!’ that I am reassured that there is support and like-minded people out there.
There will be a revolution…and I will contribute – one pair of knickers at a time….