The Hydra of Fashion
Fashion's hunger for change has reached unsustainable levels.
The obsolescence that results is damaging for us and to our planet.
I remember years ago I was at the office at work and my superior looked at my shoes and said “how cute they are, very nice color!”. I really don’t know why, but I felt stupidly compelled to reply “Isn't it? I got them for only...€”. She replied, "You silly, I didn’t ask how much you paid for. I just complimented on the shoes! What do I care of the price!"
She was right and I felt really stupid, but then I noticed - somber consolation! - that I was not the only one to reply enthusiastically about the great deal. I mean, to reply to compliments at my shoes or at my clothes telling the price and the nice deal I had made.
So, I was led to think that after all, despite my brilliant mind (sic!), me too I am just a guinea pig subject to economy strategies, and they work perfectly well on me too. I am just predictive like any average human being! What a blow to my self esteem.
Well, anyway, what does it mean that I just follow the economy strategies? Let me lead you, follow me.
I think we all can be aware that the average price of clothing and shoes has plummeted in recent decades. I am 43 years old and I remember clearly my mother telling me that when she was a little girl she just had only a small number of outfits and shoes, and mostly a good outfit for special occasions. Surely no one had storage problem back then and Marie Kondo (author of the book The life-changing magic of tidying up: The Japanese art of decluttering and organizing) would have starved to death.
We now pay very little for clothes and shoes respect to some decades ago, and not because we cannot afford it, but because we do not see any reason to.
We just go hunting for the best deals and very often we buy not on the basis of the real need, or of our taste, but on the basis of the discount, of the deal we are offered.
In our shoe store here at Valentina in Florence we have always a little scaffolding with items on sale. There are many customers that just enter and look at what deals they can make. We can see very clearly they are not absolutely interested in the shoes per se, nor they really need anything specific. They just want to make a deal, to get out with our Valentina store bag and happy with their ability to find this great deal, only 59 euros instead of 159!!! Who cares if I’ll wear these cute little boots only once. I paid very little after all.
Does it ring any bell to anyone?
That clothes and shoes can be had for so little money is historically unprecedented. Shoes and clothes have always been items to hold in great care, as they have always been hard to come by. It is sufficient that you think of some history movie you have seen and think about the jobs related to clothes making. From shepherding sheeps, to dyers, to weavers, to taylors and then to merchants. Think the time it took to make a garment or a shoe.
Today instead we find so easily the finished product of this long chain, without any awareness to all that is involved. The products are all ready, all there, all available and all so cheap!
In this way we get caught in a cycle of consumption and waste that is unsettling at best and unsatisfying at its core.
Now the 98% percent of the clothing and shoes that occidental customers buy is made outside their country, while in the 90’s the production was as at least 50% made in their country.
The immediate consequence has been the thinning of middle class: no more producing job, no wages, not enough money to buy, less expenses, more stores closed, less production request, spiralling down in a vicious cycle that is extinguishing the middle class today.
In this situation we are one of the few stores left that offer mid level shoes. Valentina Calzature is a survivor of a long serie of middle class stores, that could offer locally made products, high quality and average price.
It is only our great experience in shoes since 70’s (our father has always worked in fashion) and our family run business that allow us to stay open and offer real bargains, and with that we do not mean cheap, but great quality/price ratio shoes, offering local made shoes, together with of course high end and low end shoes.
We are like a little David facing a Goliath or, better, the powerful Hydra of fashion, if you allow me the mising up of mythologies. Why Hydra? Because Fashion is bahving with embarrassingly little regard for the environment or for human rights. Luckily, things are beginning to change.
With our policy of choosing good quality/price ratio shoes, of local production or at least of a small factory production, we try to resist the obsolescence of fashion and its constant hunger for change.
Were we to follow the latest trends (read. fashion dictats) we should change our stock and our windows avery 2 months at least, disposing hundreds of pair of shoes as waste.
Unthinkable, at least for us.
And, ultimately, what for, after all?