YOU CAN'T POLISH A TURD, BUT..
I haven't written any real tangents in a while. People always say it's better to not disclose too much information on the internet. Maybe they say this cause it's easy to sound like a big ass. Your opinions are easily solidified by internet text, accessible to virtually anybody in the world. I guess there's always delete. I always go through this..
But every now and then I'll need to write about something that irks me or I'll have a moment where I gotta type my brain wires out. It's like scratching a deep crainial itch.
I've learned a lot of really interesting things the past few months, my life has been bombarded with opportunities to experience first hand manufacturing abroad. Having previously worked part time in some very small scale American factories, I can appreciate things that are made well, in light of scarce American labor in an almost extinct domestic footwear and accessories industry. I can also appreciate the idea of paying people rightful labor costs to retain at least some accessories production in the United States.
With China revaluing their currency due to a global push from other countries including the United States, it is a widely
held belief that through this, more manufacturing will return to the United States and elsewhere. However, many others believe that without critical infrastructure which includes countless suppliers to support these factories, creating an affordable product domestically will once again prove to be an insurmountable effort.
Part of my job requires me to always be aware of design. Not only am I aware of design, I'm also aware of the people who write about it. I recently read an entry on a design blog by a female writer who discussed her authentic Fendi mesh stilettos with great revel. Like most girls who believe in the idea of elite fashion, she discussed her personal justifications for spending by forming a deductive math equation relative to how many times she felt she would wear her purchase.
"I wanted these Fendi shoes, therefore, I bought them, done deal. My sister wanted my shoes and got a copy for significantly cheaper. Monetarily I’m currently the loser, but in the end, the time, the craftmanship, and everything that goes into my shoe makes me the winner. I look at her shoe with its faux velvet platform and stretched out mesh panels and know that her shoe cannot compare to mine. And though people may assume that my shoes are knock-offs, for now, I’ll just have to deal with it."
I think the biggest misconception as a consumer is that one views inexpensive versions of wearable items to directly correlate to being "cheap" and therefore possessing poor craftsmanship. While things can be described as inexpensive, "cheap" often suggests a negative, dismissive connotation that often reflects lowly of foreign labor that isn't European.
The technicality here is that factually, cheap materials make for poor quality items, not cheap labor. After all, aren't all hands created equal? Apparently not. Where the laborer comes into the equation, they have done their job to cut and stitch your knock off fendi into forever 21. The craftsmanship is unequivocal to the reflection of materials that has already been predetermined by a set demographic. The fantasy that twenty karl lagerfelds sat in an Italian castle making your wardrobe is a hoax. The reflection of materials is more accurately a portrayal of the consumer who can only afford not as much glue in their shoe, cheaper plastic heels, and a poly urethane hybrid of leather.
One of the things I hate most about fashion is the socio-economic superiority it induces. Simply put, feeling that you have "won" at consuming is really lame. Simply put, some people can not have everything, so our society makes a market where people can. One of our more unflattering, national traits is highlighted by a history of over-lending and our dispensable culture of credit. If the exclusivity of fashion and the marketing of high end consumerism didn't work, it wouldn't be able to convince anyone that you should pay 400% more than what it cost to make. And ultimately it comes down to labor and who deserves the mark ups of your dollar.
There is nothing wrong with products being outsourced, but with such a long prosperous and competitive history of industry and production in the United States how can it not be a bitter battle? Ironically, it is likely China's manufacturing boom and introduction was single handedly set off by the likes of Wal-Mart and big American corporations that came here and demanded identical, mass produced, inexpensive products by the thousands which consequently set the "cheap" aesthetic standard. Of course there are plenty of other causes to outsourcing, but ultimately, it is also a battle with our own consumption as Americans. It is our slight denial of consumer responsibility and limited consumer knowledge that dictates what sits on shelves and what is being sold on television. Though the problem with overconsumption seems to be a western curse, the unreal pace of productivity, increasing wages, inherent economic disparity levels , and arguably what some would call land overdevelopment shows that China, too, has many of their own problems to face. You can't polish a turd, but you can sure try..