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Slow Food USA - From Field to Frock

SFUSA: Are we ready for slow fashion?

JL: We are ready for slow fashion; in fact, it is long overdue. Everywhere I look, I see ugly, cheap looking clothes—a lot of them. Clothes that lack connectedness, soul, integrity. Clothes that are generic and expendable. Clothes that don't hold value. This surplus of poorly manufactured goods is the result of our economy of scale, fruits of an “over efficient” mass production system that doesn't account for the true cost of producing them. We face depletion of natural resources, abusive treatment of workers, and pollution. Once we are better informed and exposed to the true facts of how cheap clothes are made, consumers will opt out of fast fashion and resort to alternatives that bring back a sense of connectedness and belonging.

SFUSA: What's the biggest problem you encounter in your business?

JL: The biggest challenge is to thrive as a business without subscribing to the rules of radical capitalism and its economy of scale. In order to grow and be profitable, most companies shift their production overseas to take advantage of unrealistically low wages, inhumane work conditions, and the plundering of nature. The fashion industry is shored up by big players in the press and marketing, textile, and manufacturing industries. As a small business, you get overshadowed by the magnitude of these hefty companies. Factories don't want to take your orders because the quantities aren't big enough. Textile companies don't want to produce your fabric because you don't reach the minimums imposed by them. The press doesn't care about promoting or publicizing your ideas because you aren't a potential advertiser.

SFUSA: What's your strategy for addressing that problem?

JL: It takes time to make something truly beautiful. To me, a product needs to encompass all the attributes I find essential to justify its introduction into our overstuffed world. I make wholesome clothes that embody connection with all that surrounds us, the universe. Hence, I invest copious amounts of time and resources into creating them sustainably. Enough people respond positively, embracing and supporting our efforts so that we can not only exist but thrive. I also shun the idea of traditional growth and expansion because by keeping the company small, I can concentrate my resources and illustrate my point of view in the best possible way. The message is simple but goes against the values of a consumer society: less is better, quality is essential, and true beauty is intrinsically tied with nature.

SFUSA: The food movement has a price point problem, where "slow" food is sometimes deemed "too expensive." How do you handle this problem in the clothing business?

JL: I used to think that one positive element of fast fashion was the democratization of clothes, but I came to realize that accessibility breeds waste and overconsumption. Along with hefty budgets for marketing and advertising, the fast fashion industry sprawled in its outreach. As a result, people compulsively buy things they don’t need, because they are cheap. When we take into account the impact of the production and disposal of cheap clothes, we realize that what is considered cheap is actually costing us through our noses. Only then will we start caring about the longevity of the clothes and be interested in how they are made, the provenance of their materials, the composition of their textiles. Then we will mend them as needed instead of readily tossing them in the garbage bin. Expensive will actually translate into inexpensive, once you factor in the time saved from compulsive shopping and the longevity and endurance of the clothing.

Please find the article here : From Field to Frock