It was never my goal to create clothes when I grow up. I was, in fact, part of the chain of consumers buying to fulfill shopping satisfaction more so than the need to be clothed unbeknownst to the process of how that piece was made. The brand name mattered more to me than who and where the clothes were made. I knew only the side of the industry that highlights the status quo attached to the products more than the hard labour, toxic and long hours side of making garments. But studying fashion opened my mind to a wider world, a bigger community that also taught me more about the environment, business, society, and history than those years spent in a high school memorizing events and information. From the 23rd of April through to 29th, the world highlights a new revolution that is making the industry more transparent and enlighten those who are in the dark corners of unconscious consumption. Fashion Revolution Week is beyond fashion industry awareness but also about making a change in our attitude towards our clothes and consumption. As a fashion design student and blogger, I take part in the revolution by proudly saying, hashtag, I made my clothes.
For years, the only sewing I ever did was to replace a button but even then I’d usually ask my mom or nanny to do it for me. It was only when I went to tech and university that I began to make clothes and, ultimately, understood how clothes were made. It was early 2015, I was stuck in life barely making my communications study and full-time job work in my then depressed state. Pouring steamed milk over an espresso for other people became mundane no matter how much I, apparently, made my customer’s day. It was as though one could hear the echo of a pin dropping within the hallowed walls of my soul. But the images of an ecstatic me in the fashion industry was gnawing at the nape of my neck. One day, I sent an e-mail inquiring the fashion department coordinator if skill-less little me can take a course at fashion design in Southern Institute of Technology in Invercargill. The course description said I could take a foundation course, but the invitation to study felt more pleasant. I left my full-time job to begin my half-semester study of garment construction. It was an awakening experience a new world of design, pattern making and creating a finished wearable garment. Color began to replace my black and white reality. Despite never intending on becoming a designer of clothes, the fulfillment of attaching the back and sleeve pieces to the front surprised and kindled a passion within me.
I never looked back since. Gazing only towards the future, I continued with a bachelor’s degree in fashion (and still do, now at Massey University in Wellington) learning the craft and pushing more to extract my thoughts – and even feelings – and create garments out of it. Research and self-prompted studies of the wider industry slowly built up goals that I will, one day, make happen. Through creating clothes, I highlight the Philippine textile, introduce it and have people love it. Through creation, I express the person I want to be, which no retailers can fully capture. The person proud of her roots and migrant identities, courageous and fun-loving, strong-willed and confident. I create because I want to be unique. I create for quality. I create to lessen the consumption of low-quality throwaway garments.
This is the week we highlight the importance of taking part in the Fashion Revolution. As a fashion design student and blogger, I proudly say that I use my skills to take part in making clothes I love. Buying only what I truly need and love. It is also my chosen obligation to help enlighten anyone the process of designing and making clothes and the importance of consuming consciously. The revolution may have started out of a tragic incident five years ago in Bangladesh where a garment factory collapsed taking with it thousands of lives, it shouldn’t take another devastating event to happen for us to make and start change. I extend an exciting invitation to everyone to be part of the change that needs to happen to fashion not to hate it, but to embrace it and make conscious decision making.
It is not important one has to learn to make clothes to be a part of a change. Purchasing with consciousness, falling in love with a piece of clothing, being aware of who made your clothes, where it’s come from, what’s it made of and the hundreds of process that goes into making one piece of garment, recycling, mending, sharing are enough to start being part of a change to make the fashion industry be involved in preserving life and the earth. Start by asking the question. Today I answered my question as to why I make my clothes. Why did you buy your clothes?
For more information on Fashion Revolution, visit their website at www.fashionrevolution.org