Hold my hands

Hold my hands. What do they tell you about me? Are they soft, calloused from hard labor, scarred from an injury? There is a lifetime of stories in each hand we shake. The hands that hold our newborn child, walk our daughter down the aisle, wash our babies, feed our families, and in the case of fashion, create what we take for granted every single day: what we wear. We care about these hands.

Fashion is at its very root a living, breathing art form signifying the times we live in. Or at least that’s what it used to be before it slipped through our fingers.  What is the future of fashion? How do we become original again and not just constantly recycling pieces from the past? What made the 50’s/60’s/70’s so cool?! The fact that the pieces were representative of the times. Something Nina Simone, signature headscarf in place, once said was an artist’s greatest responsibility: reflect the times.

With the same 50’s style having been reproduced so many times with new names, branded as trends, and marketed as the hottest “new” looks… how are we going to achieve truly original fashions in an industry that seems to be stuck in the past? How do we represent the times of today? Identify what is happening, first and foremost. And that is a world of sweatshops, child labor, animal cruelty and environmental devastation in the name of a t-shirt that you already own from six seasons ago and are “told” is different enough to buy. Whose hands are we beating/scarring/burning to create something we already have? As designers, it is our duty to innovate with this in the forefront of our minds as the issue we should focus on above all else.  It is this that represents our times.

Fashion is a form of slavery. In the sixties, whatever the establishment did, young people did the opposite. Today, whatever the establishment does, we copy slavishly. We are “slaves to fashion” as never before, only there is no fashion, just whatever gets advertised the most on TV or shown on the latest “reality” show. So we are slaves, just as the poor souls in Asia and Latin America who make all these copycat clothes are slaves. It is a double slavery and a double dilemma: do we refuse to manufacture these boilerplate sweatshop clothes and thereby punish the Chinese or Mexican slaves still more? And if we do make a stand and resolve only to sell “made in America” clothes, how on earth will anyone be able to afford them? So what to do?

These are the questions we constantly ask when manufacturing. And the reason we believe that sustainable fashion is the only answer that makes any sense. To truly innovate in the garment game, we must reflect the times… it is OUR duty as artists. And the times are telling us that this just isn’t working anymore. When nets are being built outside of factories to prevent suicides from looking “too messy,” it’s time to stop. Of course the companies hiring these poor employees will tell you otherwise. These nets are in place to prevent suicide they claim. However that is most certainly not the case. People are dying left and right.

These are human lives, the hands we hold, not scold for helping clothe our families. Of course, there is the question of affordability. However our millennials are so hip to what is happening, and so cause oriented we have no doubt this issue will find a way of resolving itself when there is no other option but to treat mankind well. And if we can pick up the slack for brands in the meantime, great. Recycling fashion, vintage store shopping and the like is a fine way to start and is the coolest look right now so you will be more on trend than going to H&M. One great, mindful purchase that lasts a lifetime makes so much more sense than some $2.00 garment that a child made. You’re going to lose it in your closet anyway, but where will the kid end up?


New Book Release

Tracey's new book, sustainable in stilettos   "a stylish guide to navigating the evolving world of fashion and beyond."