Throughout my participation with CSULA’s S.M.A.R.T Lab (secondary materials and recycled textiles) Undergraduate Research Initiative, I was able to contribute to strategies in developing “SMART” Manufacturing through a merchandising eye. Through this process, what I came to understand was that education and textile sustainability awareness are, in my opinion, the driving force to a successful SMART manufacturing product.
There has been quiet a bit of research on the ecological implications of textile waste and America’s over consumption of clothing as whole, including its global ramifications. (see Travel’s of a T-Shirt)
Upon further dissection of those issues, I tried to understand how this issue even becomes large enough to reach a global scale.
First I investigated my own history;
My grandmother was a seamstress and my mother’s view on clothing and appropriate pricing was based on growing up watching her mom sew for mass production. My mother would help package and sew handbag lining at a very young age. Most my grandmother ever got paid was $1.50 a piece and as little as $0.10 a piece. (in the mid 70’s-mid 80’s in Los Angeles) They were immigrant workers who came from a ranch in Mexico where my grandmother would make all their clothes.
Realizing my relationship to mass produced clothes, base issues hit closer to home than I realized.
To actively participate in the change we tried to create, I started the research project by cleaning out my closet and discard items for the up cycling project.Realizing that I was an equal participant in this over consumption of clothing, purchasing items for the sake of ‘closet envy’, I realized that while I have a greater education on the effect of Fast Fashion, it became evident that changing perception and (most importantly) purchasing patterns of consumers similar to myself, who didn’t have the knowledge would be much more difficult.
SMART LAB PROJECT
I was also the liaison with the University in organizing the logistics for our Earth-Day information booth, Buy-Back Event, and Focus Group sale.
Through all events, there was the great opportunity to speak with students, faculty and passer-by’s about the effects of fast-fashion and textile waste. More often than not, we received great feed-back with people who were not aware and showed some concern. However, based on our questionnaire, it was evident that the majority of the people survived were completely oblivious to the true amount of labor required to create our test products, thus pricing their value very low!
Example of Products Developed
Many survied said they would pay below $10 for the products we offered. It seems clear that this pricing methodology is reflected through what they see in the stores, cheaply priced fashion items, often made overseas and in terrible sweat-shop work like conditions (ie. Bagladesh Factory Fire)
I wonder if the majority of the consumer public knew about the working conditions of the people who make their clothes, would they care? It seems inhuman not to care, but consumers have become so accustom to their cheap fashion, can we change?
This research project only scratched the surface of our initial research question: What strategies can be developed for Secondary Materials and Recycled Textiles (SMART) manufacturing?
I think what we first need to ask, is how do we get consumers to DEMAND S.M.A.R.T Manufacturing? There must be a social change that promotes these desires. While there is a certain cashe rising for a ‘thrift shop find’ in the middle class, it could be a fad simply to rebel. There must be a connection between value of labor, from the consumers to those who participate in the production of goods. If people do not understand how certain things are made, they will not know who to value it properly and choose products with substance and quality.
As a result, there must be a movement to encourage consumers to think with a ‘green’ eye. See: Encouraging A Consumer Society of Sustainable Fashion. A change in attitude in sustainability and fast-fashion will be mutually beneficial.
For Further Investigation, I recommend the following:
Fast Fashion, Sustainability, and the Ethical Appeal of Luxury Brands
Link to FastFashionSustainability
Life Cycle Analysis of a Polyester Garment
Link to LCA+of+a+Polyester+Garment
Sustainability is making a mark in Fashion Headlines:
CFDA Starts Sustainability committee:
Sustainable Fashion Programs:
Large ‘Fast-Fashion’ House react to consumer demand for eco-friendly products:
Textile Collection Resource:
We’ve all heard the praises of internships from top fashion people. ” Internships are the best thing you can do to break in to the industry.’ “Intern.Intern.Intern” ect. ect. I can go on, and on. People even BUY internships. Yea, some people PAY for the opportunity to work! It’s crazy! I know. So you probably don’t need to be reminded that internships are the perfect way to learn about careers that you may want to totally explore or those careers that you know very well you could do without.
So, let me preface by saying, I completely and totally agree and encourage internships!
I’ve had the fortunate opportunity to intern for small handful of different fashion related places -some great and others not so great. But now, I am currently interning at one of my most favorite fashion websites. This is a dream come true internship. The name is so well known in the industry, that it can really open doors for me when I apply to other places in the future.
So whats wrong?
Well, this morning inparticular, I woke up with literally only 20 minutes to get myself ready after debating if I should call out today because I was really tired of driving 1 hour and 30 minutes to my internship in terrible Los Angeles morning traffic. Especially when I have so much school work left to do.I knew I souldn’t because I have to call off this coming friday for a school event and I really don’t want to burn any bridges. Especially since I only have a week or so left at this internship. I considered quitting via email, but stopped myself, knowing it’d be a dumb thing to do.
And I know what you’re thinking, “Thats not very responsible. In the real world, you can’t just not go to work because you don’t want to get out of bed. ” Okay, Okay, I know! Just hear me out…
Sometimes internships can be a little more difficult than you might think. Not only are you working for FREE, it’s just hard to keep motivated when its obvious that you are disposable to the company. And you sometimes feel practically invisible as an intern. No one really knows your name, nor are they interested in finding out because they know that you are only here for a few months, so whats the point?
Now, dont get me wrong, I love the company. And people here are generally really nice, but a lot of people can also act like you’re not even there even though you hand them their mail and transfer their calls. Now, they arent mean or anything, it’s just that sometime, as an intern you dont always feel like an important part of the company. There is really no personal responsiblity that you are held accountable for so for people like myself, it is hard for me to see how I directly contribute to the growth and success of a company so the motivation isn’t there.
So an obvious solution would be to make yourself stand out, right? Great! But when you are at an internship 2 days a week for 3 months, it tends to be a little harder to get yourself recognized when you are trying to get comfortable in an environment where a lot of the people are closed off.
So I think, “Im sitting here in 1 1/2 hours of traffic to get there and go back home only to sit at the reception desk for another 8 hours and I dont really make an impact. I don’t really matter. They could get their own mail and answer their own calls. The company won’t collapse if I’m not there….’
But of course, I can quit and there will instantly be another girl with is willing to take my spot. A girl who would sit in 2 hours of traffic, and not miss a day, not once.
Its a cycle. When the job market is shaky in an industry that so many girls ‘would kill’ to be in the position I am in, my internship won’t have a problem with finding my replacement with a girl who wants it more than I do.
And funny enough, when I walked into my internship this morning, there was a new intern. Who moved to Los Angeles simply for this internship.
So, after all this…what’s the lesson ?
There is always someone who wants something more than you do. You just have to wake up every morning, even when you are really tired and cold and not in the mood, and ask yourself, “How BAD do I want THIS!” How bad do you want to make it in an industry that is notoriously difficult to break into. When you have these opportunities, how important is it for you to keep them?
Its not easy, TRUST me. But asking myself those questions is what got me out of bed this morning, when I was really not in the mood.
As we enter week 6, is it? – I am growing more and more proud of the work my partner Wend and I have produced thus far. While everything has not gone as smoothly as we would obviously like, we have made compromises and adjusted to the environment we are dealt. Check out our latest blog post on our progress!
Love and Marriage, you can’t have one without the other. And producing a collection is much like a marriage.
In the collection’s inception you are filled with excitement and deep lust and love. Your collection is perfect and you just know that you’ll love your collection forever. IE. The Honeymoon Period.
Well, then the realization that your collection is not perfect! But rather super challenging and consistently testing your patience and your wallet! Your patterns wont line up and material cost are quickly adding up. You’ve had to make slight changes to the original designs. This is also the time in the marriage that you realize communication is really key. Communication with your sample makers is vital. Sometimes it can feel like you are speaking different languages, and in Quore’s case we did! While I speak understand Spanish, our sample makers and I had several misunderstandings about our sewing expectations.
Lastly, and hopefully we are…
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Wendy and I share our weekly struggles, accomplishments and laughs on this weeks Production update. Take a look!
We have had a busy week in the Quore Studio. While time has moved quickly, so have we. We have all our patterns and muslin’s in progress. We have confirmed our photographers and models lined up for our look book and runways show and we have several logo prototypes to consider.
Quore’s master textile designer (and co-designer), Wendy has started her felting samples. We got our fabulous and luxurious wool fiber from Mohair and More fiber supply shop which is located in New Waverly, Texas where they raise registered white angora goats, providing high quality and beautiful mohair fiber.
(This is the website that links to the store where we got our fantastic wool http://mohairandmore.com/angora_goats/. Highly recommended! It is shop that where you can find good quality and cheap wool fiber. )
Wool fiber is felted on the surface of the foam. Playing with contrasting color, magenta and peacock wool roving are…
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Wendy and I would like to encourage you to follow our blog for bi-weekly updates on our Spring 2014 Collection!
Our Spring 2014 Collection is currently underway! Designers Wendy and Lidia (myself) are meeting minds and undertaking the daunting task of patterning the entire collection. Wendy has ordered her textile materials and I making connections with possible sample makers who will take on the final step of the production process and sew our collection.
In addition, I am playing with fonts to design our logo, and on Saturday we will buy our final fabric. Lots of work needs to be done within the next few days to ensure our sample maker will have plenty of time to finish our garments within the week.
We are excited to offer bi-weekly previews of our upcoming collection. Stay Tuned!
Wendy Xu and I are excited to announce the birth of our collaborative label, Quore.
Visit http://www.quorestudio.worpress.com for blog post updates.
SMART LAB NOTES.
This weekend alone, while I was cleaning out my closet, I had several conversations with my mother about the way in which we discard textiles. Her instinct was to trash (black bin) dirty rags and stained/unwearable garments. I think that is the thought of most people. It is clear that you should donate (meaning give to salvation army and they deal with it).
Most often textile recycling is only done through ‘events’. Not on the weekly basis like plastics are. I called Athens Services and inquired about their textile recycling. I was hoping that there was a separate bin solely for textiles.
Upon contacting Athens, there was no textile. There would be an increase in price for adding another bin (but it wouldn’t be designated for textiles) for adding this service. Athens does not have a separate only textile material however they do follow LAW AB341 that recycles 99% of 2 yard containers.
Looking for textile recycling alternatives in Los Angeles I found this company:
Itd be great to have an option that’d be a home pick up.