TEXTILES / FAST OR SLOW?

Reading the home and fashion trade papers in the past couple of weeks, one thing is abundantly clear: sustainable design and ethical production practices is top of mind among manufacturers in the textile industry. After many years of dancing around the issue of textile waste, unfair labor practices, and environmental destruction in producing textile goods, there seems to be a move toward a mindful approach to making. 

I think consumers are also concerned about these things and are happy to support sustainable brands. Yet,  in actuality, it is still so easy to wear or use a product a few times, and then send it off to Goodwill. No upkeep or maintenance is required. Just pure uncommitted bliss. The truth is that disposable goods are fun, cheap, and can deliver that fast shot of adrenaline that is addictive.

So for all that are caught on the fence between buying textiles for their price or trending style, or supporting sustainable brands, here is a bit more  information to help you decide.

Brands with a quick and repetitive sales model often design their goods with "planned obsolescence" in mind. Design decisions like quality and durability of materials and sewing craft are planned to erode quickly. This means that a great bedding set or sweater might look beautiful on first use, but colors will fade, fibers shrink or get itchy, and buttons will fall out quickly. Thus begins the cycle of consumption that requires more visits to Goodwill, stresses your monthly budget, and occupies a never-ending place on your to-do list. It's truly a treadmill.

On the production side, produce these goods at such an enticing price, other corners must be cut. Fast goods are often produced in slum factories in developing countries where children and young woman work for less than living wage. The dye process for some textiles uses harsh chemicals that are dumped into water sources and the soil. All this for fast profits.

The alternative this would be sustainably made goods. Instead of big highs and big lows, slow goods are long-wearing, predictable, and actually improve their durability over time. They fit into a lifestyle built on ritual, routine, community, and commitment. Fabrics are savored and collected and become like old friends. Over time, that one pair of favorite linen napkins, for example, will also be less expensive to use and maintain than a slew of paper napkins or cheaper cloth napkins. Your shopping routine will become simple and cost-effective when you live with things that don't often need replacement. 

So this is the dilemma. Go for the bright shiny object with the great price or a more authentic and carefully made object that will last longer? The home and fashion industry is considering this question seriously right now. For MP, mindful making is the foundation of what we do, and a big reason we continue to make our products.