Made To Order: The Future of Sustainable Fashion
What Even is Made-To-Order?
Up until five years ago, I had never heard of the term 'made-to-order'. Whenever I needed new clothes, I just went to the store and shopped from the styles available. It was often a hunt to find clothing that I felt reflected my style, but being a creative person I was always able to adjust these pre-made pieces to make them my own.
I had never imagined the possibility of having a piece of clothing made just for me--I assumed that was something reserved for celebrities and red carpet events.
All of this changed for me in 2017 when I first moved to Uganda for work. One of the first things that stood out was on every corner you could find a tailor set up with a sewing machine taking orders.
This was brand new to me. Besides the few times I had to alter a bridesmaid dress in the states, I had never really encountered a tailor. The people who made my clothes in America were often on another continent and I really didn't know much about them.
As I settled into my life in Uganda, it quickly became my favorite past time to go to the local market and find tailors that could bring items from my Pinterest board to life. I loved the thrill of selecting my fabric, choosing a style, getting measured, and ultimately having a piece made just for me.
I got to make decisions like 'do I want pockets?', 'what type of sleeve should it be?', 'do you want a round skirt or a straight skirt?'.
At first this was just a hobby but as time past I came to realize that this new form of shopping might just be the answer to the fashion crisis in the West.
Our Fashion Crisis
If you don't know much about the ugly side of the fashion industry, let me fill you in. The fashion industry is the second largest polluter in the world after oil. In my home country of America, we generate 16 million tons of textile waste a year. 70% of donated clothing is sent to Africa where it lands in countries like Uganda and ruins local economies.
Not only did I start to understand how 'made-to-order' was the epitome of sustainable fashion, but the result of the overproduction in countries like my own was right in front of me. Next to every one of these tailoring shops in Uganda was a secondhand shop selling items from Old Navy, Forever 21, J. Crew, Target, Victoria Secret...you name it and I could find it.
The worst part of this is it's not really affecting us in the West. I can tell you the stats about our overproduction in America but the reality is we don't directly experience the consequences. The people who are experiencing the consequences are the local makers in these countries that can't compete with the cheap price of secondhand clothes or the people in Ghana where their landfills are being filled with cheap labels like Forever 21, SHEIN, and H&M.
This vast amount of secondhand clothing is a result of years and years of buying clothes that we don't love. We've been taught to buy clothes for a season rather than buying clothes that can travel with us through every season of life.
Sending the clothes we don't want to Africa is not a solution, we have to change our ways and slow down.
The Future of the Fashion Industry
I truly believe that the future of fashion is made-to-order. At Vinn, we want to lead the way.
Not only would it be better for us as consumers, it is also better for the makers behind our clothes and better for our planet when we slow down and invest in pieces we'll love.
This is the heart of our work here at Vinn. We want to help you create the equivalent of Steve Jobs Black Turtle Neck or Blanks Blank. That piece in your closet that is your go-to item. That thing you want to wear on both your best day and your worst.
In the coming weeks, we'll be launching a new collection featuring a variety of styles. I hope to bring you the same thrill that I experienced when going to a tailor shop in Uganda in my early days. I want to provide the opportunity to pick your fabric, select a style, and to customize your design. I want to help you slow down and to design clothing that you will truly love.
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