Cheap fashion is over China warns the west. It is a sign of the times and for some time has seemed an inevitability. So is throwaway fashion dead? With cotton prices at prices not seen for three decades and a change in the expectations of Chinese workers and Chinese employment law; prices will have to rise warn Primark and H&M and Next.
It seems a crazy story; factories in China are closing because workers are refusing to work for so little pay. They are moving onto in the more profitable construction industry where they can earn significantly more. Workers who were once prepared to work for as little as £30 a month now want 10 to 15 times that. If they can get it elsewhere of course they are going to move.
The denim factories in the Xintang area of china have been massively affected. Due to the cotton price hike denim has become extremely expensive to produce. With the floods in Pakistan and Australia, the export ban form India and now the wave of rebellions across the Middle East the material is unaffordable. Designers are now being forced to introduce polyester thus making jeans shiny. There is the option to move production and yes it is cheaper to manufacture clothes in Vietnam and Cambodia and the Philippines but they canít compete when it comes to infrastructure and scale. At one time 60,000 pairs of jeans a day could be manufactured in the Xintang province.
I love fashion as most of us do but I have to say I have never been a massive fan of the cheap clothes made up of rubbish fabrics one finds in a lot of the high street shops these days. It has always seemed a false economy to me. Maybe I just never had enough money or cared enough. I have either made my own clothes, reworked 2nd hand clothes or simply invested in classic pieces that last for years. I love fashion and I love fabrics, it is all I have ever known having been being brought up in a fabric mill and then going onto study and work in the fashion and fabric industries. It is a sad fact that we have all but lost our cloth manufacturing and skills to go with it but you cannot change the way the world works, progress or the human instinct for greed and vanity. Things are shifting in the East and will continue to but there is only so far that this shift will be able to go before the inevitability of price rises of clothes on the high street. Unfortunately that doesnít mean the quality will improve, cheap looking clothes at twice the price. I am a self confessed fabric snob and some of what is offer on the high street in terms of fabric quality for your buck I believe is out there I already think is extortionate. So letís get out the sewing machines buy some good quality cloth and save ourselves some money. Time is the only thing you will need.
We have a super lightweight stretch denim so it is easy to sew. Click here to see some ideas on what you could make or even what Designers are doing with it.
Itís a good plan but not one that keeps the billion pound fashion industry alive and in these uncertain times.