Every designer's dream is to create something so stylish and elegant it transcends fashion and becomes a classic. One such garment is the Chanel tweed jacket. Created in 1936 by Coco Chanel, the tweed jacket became the epitome of classic style and elegance, while the tweaks over the years rendered it continuously relevant and cool. Yet as with all of high fashion, the hefty price makes it virtually inaccessible for most.
Enter Zara, the formula so successful it has generated billions in sales and legions of followers. Their unique business model is rooted in mass design teams, supreme logistics capability, and specialised information technology. The design teams scour the trends producing countless garments, the software monitors the sales which in turn feeds into the design process, while the logistics network ensures that the newly produced garments are quickly available on the shelves. The end result: Zara is managing to translate high and unaffordable into everyday and affordable fashion so fast, that every time you walk in there is something new to be purchased.
But this comes at a price - just not to you and me, the consumers. High turnover at a profit usually means that someone had to produce the clothes at a very low cost. This is where cheap labour comes into play. Garment industry is a known offender of decent labour practices - from employing children, to shamefully low wages and appalling working conditions. Things have gotten a bit better since the NIKE scandal of 1997 blew the cover on the deplorable practices of the garment industry. But there is still much room for improvement.
I struggle with all of this because I feel like a hypocrite. On one hand, I of course condemn these practices and want fair treatment for all. On the other hand, I also shop knowing full well that my consumer behaviour influences how someone is treated at the production point. As such I, and all of us, share the responsibility with the brands.
So where is the solution? Consumer consciousness fostering better industry practices. I, therefore, invite you all the get informed and take action. There are many groups which work tirelessly on this issue. Here are a few that you can check out: Oxfam International, Clean Clothes Campaign, Social Alterations, Center for Sustainable Fashion, Fashion Projects.
t-shirt: Twik by Simons
jeans: James Jeans
belt/ceinture: Tory Burch
shoes/souliers: Pour la Victoire
necklaces/colliers: Banana Republic