My daughter Sophie is my fashion reality check. I learn so much from her.
As a sustainable fashion writer, consultant and outspoken activist, imagine being my daughter when you want to be totally normal like all the other teens you go to school with. Imagine having to hear about garment worker’s rights, fast fashion, toxic effluents in waterways, textile waste, pesticides, designers getting screwed somewhere along the line and clothes being made in the U.S. Imagine your mother giving the finger to fast fashion chains as you walk by and her talking about vandalizing windows with lipstick reading #StopFastFashion and the number of designers, writers and activists that come and spend weekends in your home talking about the same thing over and over.
You too might want to rebel and only dream of shopping at Forever 21 and Wet Seal.
My daughter was the initial reason I wanted to do something this year when it came to how I approached fashion and why it was, I guess on a psychological level, WHY I wanted or felt like I needed things. I had no intention of ever blogging about this or even creating a logo (thanks to my husband once again for helping me), but then I went to my local tailor Kathryn Hilderbrand, armed with a jacket that I loved but couldn’t wear because it had some fit issues. As we talked about repairing and mending, altering and designing, Kathryn said something that stuck with me: “It’s hard being a tailor when the clothes people want you to fix cost less than the actual fix.”
I’d never thought of that in the grand scheme of fashion and sustainability. I’ve read and written about inferior fibers not being able to be recycled, consignment stores hoarding what’s vintage for all the fast fashion coming through and polluting their shop’s rich history, and enough articles about how rock-bottom pricing has shifted our perception of clothing and worth than I can count- but what about the tailor?
According to “The History of Tailoring,” the art of cutting and sewing cloth developed in Europe between the twelfth and fourteenth centuries. The Oxford English Dictionary’s first reference to the word “tailor” is from the year 1297 A.D., by which time weaving and tailoring guilds and cloth merchants were well established in Europe.
Repeat. That was 1297 A.D.
So why is it that the profession of tailors is in peril? Consider the youth of today currently being raised on throwaway fashion and why they would ever need someone to fix a $5 shirt when the fix is double the amount of the shirt. Tailors are only for their parents and grandparents who need a hem, surely not for them right?
Enter The Tailor Project that addresses everything from my teenage daughter to fashion psychology. This challenge has already made me feel uncomfortable. The idea of fashion is to me an art and so not buying any new or even used clothing makes me squeamish. I like fashion. I like beautiful clothing and statement jewelry. I didn’t get into the fashion industry because I wanted to be an activist, I simply loved the way clothing made me feel, helped me morph and change.
I am looking forward though to reworking my existing closet with Kathryn, who in addition to being the owner of Stitched here on Cape Cod is a designer for her own sustainable fashion line GreenLine by K.
Kathryn is also in the process of creating a jumpsuit for me that we’ve co-designed that I will wear to my dressy NYC fashion events and another for more casual get togethers. I can’t wait to accessorize and wear the jumpsuit in as many ways as humanly possible.
As fashion moves faster through trends with no consideration for people or planet, this project is a dedicated appreciation to the fine art of tailoring, mending and re-designing clothes worthy of living many lives.
The Tailor Project is also a call to arms for old friends, new friends and colleagues to join in supporting their local tailor, a profession being pushed out for cheaply made and priced clothing that are much easier to just throw away than to mend.
Join me in supporting those men and women whose backs fashion was built on and please share on The Tailor Project’s Facebook page your own alterations, designs and revamps of clothing you love.
As Albert Einstein was quoted: “Creativity is contagious, pass it on.”