August 12, 2012 at 7:45 pm | In links | Comments Off
Rag Drag by Nicole Gelinas – City Journal
This is so interesting. Maybe there will be a backlash, and people opt for some “artisan” clothing that lasts?
As for accessibility and variety, Cline notes that you can’t compare what a nice dress cost three decades, half a century, or even a century ago—a few hundred dollars in today’s inflated currency—with what it costs in 2012. Why? Because back then, people could sew. If a middle-class or working-class woman wanted a designer knockoff, she wouldn’t go to Zara and buy one for $10; she would select a pattern and a fabric, and get to work. Women’s and girls’ magazines featured sewing tips. Poorer people, especially children, had higher-quality charity castoffs. Look at an archival photo of a postwar kid at Coney Island, and you’ll see that he’s better dressed than today’s kids.
Sure, the rich can pay up for a nice outfit—thousands of dollars for a well-made dress or suit. But even the wealthy must practice caveat emptor; a top designer will try to sell you a $1,000 sweater made in China, with the label better hidden. And less-than-rich luxury seekers who choose a name-label polo top over a generic one aren’t getting higher quality. As Cline puts it, consumers have learned to ask themselves, “Why buy a $75 Ralph Lauren polo shirt when it’s not any better than the store-brand polo on the rack at Target?” When a Shenzhen factory finishes its two shifts for a label, it often will run an identical third shift for the generic market.
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