Where would the established ateliers/fashion houses be without the delicate hands that construct fine garments?
Or the tailor whose precision of drawing directly onto cloth, comes with years of experience and patience; the pattern cutter whose eye for clean sharp lines transforms fabric into a 3D form. These are fine trades and crafts, one destined for extinction if these skills do not get passed on.
So there aren’t as many people buying haute couture nowadays in its purest form, yet handcrafts are not just relevant for the luxury market, but life itself. One of the reasons why vintage fashion has gained such resurgence in recent years, is because of the creative design, their uniqueness of being one-of-a-kind; fine detailing, construction, just some of the components that give these garments their point of difference. But what about the person behind those seams? You know I just could not resist that pun!
There’s a thought process doing the rounds, stating, ‘if you are over the age of 50’, you are more museum piece, than a valuable contributor to today’s society, especially in the creative industry, its sheer madness.
It’s imperative that we start having the conversation now with those whose skills should be celebrated, from my perspective hand-sewing, embroidery, beading, setting the perfect sleeve, are just a few examples I learned from seasoned professionals over the years. As part of my school curriculum Community Service was not because I had been to the Magistrates Court, but part of something that would now have the fancy title of ‘Life Skills’. We would visit Retirement Homes and listen to the stories of our peers, and even pick up some tips if they were crafters.
In our pursuit for the next shiny object that will hold our attention for all of 5 minutes, we are missing out on that pot of gold that can equip us with knowledge and techniques that we can use for a lifetime across the board. The conversation I hear from the public now in relation to some purchases are, ‘they used to do such good… or they had such great quality…’ It’s not just the fashion industry that is missing out, but commerce in general.
My mum taught me to knit, sew and crochet, these skills were further enhanced at school where we had sewing classes; apparently such creative classes in schools are now an indulgence and not the norm. My sewing teacher Mrs Shirley was a stickler for detail, in addition to sewing techniques I learnt patience, (unpicking a seam for the umpteenth time with either make you or break you)!
I for one thank my mum and Mrs Shirley for passing on their creative gifts enabling me to make my dream a reality by becoming a fashion designer. I really do hope that the current generation take heed, and start listening to the stories, and learning the skills of our peers, that invaluable gift called experience can leave you forewarned, letting hindsight take a back seat for a change.