There are many reasons to avoid the Made in China labels. Not as a prejudice toward the people of China or their capacity to make product, because they make some of the most beautiful porcelain and silk embroidered textiles in the world. Vintage items made in Hong Kong are made by hand with attention to detail and can easily be distinguished from the cheap reproductions. It is the mass-produced made in China fast fashion and jewelry that is to be avoided. A high percentage of it is ending up in the landfills.
During the depression era in Canada, you would never know it now, but people were so poor they often did not have a single pair of shoes to wear. Clothing was patched repeatedly, to include mending underwear and darning socks. When an item of clothing fell apart, the spare fabric was used to make quilts. Women used rolled up rags or strips of folded newspaper to curl their hair.
When it came to food or fabric – stretching it was the first and most important consideration. Many prairie children from large families scrambled to get to the table quickly enough to get adequate portions of food. There was shame associated with poverty, so the mantra was always to “make do” with what you have. The stigmatization of wearing second hand clothing was the basis for mockery and insults. It is interesting to note that songs in the sixties and seventies contributed to the humiliation. Then came the hip-hop song in 2012 “Thrift Store” to counter some of those earlier pigeonholing attitudes. It didn’t hurt the newfound trendier second hand market to have gorgeous actresses and models don vintage dresses for celebrity events and awards. Poverty creates an endless cycle – yet beauty is timeless.
Today’s poverty is somewhat different. Instead of the sparse conditions of the past, we are now inundated with material things and rampant consumerism, but it is a vacuous abyss. For vast numbers of people losing motivation and overdosing in the midst of all this materialism, creates a chasm of grief emotionally, and again, in terms of the loss of human potential. We are steeped in the seductive appeal of accumulating wealth, yet more people are hungry, homeless or in severe emotional pain than ever before. It is testimony to the fact we have too much consumerism and not enough “soul”.
My pursuit to collect things other people don’t want – and to avoid things made in China, paradoxically came from experiencing poverty. Society seems to have a standard that dictates if we have nothing – we are nothing. It is easier to cease to exist and be blotted out or erased, if you are a proven non-entity. There is seldom a mention in the news of the world when a poverty-stricken or drug addled person dies and is simply – gone.
As much as we can refute materialism and consumerism, we will never get away from it because of the supply and demand chain. There are many reasons to avoid clothing made in China. Fast fashion items have a short shelf life, and some of it is not that cheap. You will often find that the seams unravel; the garment does not hang straight, and does not stand up to the test of time.
Clothing made in Canada on the other hand, is just the opposite. Canadians are known for making good quality product. Montreal deserves endless accolades for their creative contributions to Canada’s fashion and art scene. Toronto is also right up there as far as being appreciative and supportive of some of Canada’s great talent. We do sometimes have a tendency to be conservative and fuddy-duddy – but we fare quite well on the global vintage fashion scene, thanks to our eastern counterparts and their love of Canadian culture.
The problem with the upsurge of fast fashion and the rapid cycling of trendy but trashy clothing from China is that it contributes to impoverishing our own talents and ability to design and manufacture Canadian products. How can we have so many people losing value for their own lives and dying in the streets, while in the midst of plenty? It’s a true epidemic, and a mind-boggling one at that. Why do we need to go into a supermarket and see an entire wall full of different kinds of shampoo and conditioner? Do we really need three hundred different kinds of soap and product for our hair?
Yes I have amassed a huge collection and am the epitome of materialism. And the motivation is probably strongly associated with addiction and fear of poverty. But there is a satirical element interwoven into the collection. People have a tendency to seek what is new. Yet almost all new things are copies or adaptations of things from the past. The world of the newly made cannot compete with things from the past. Good product cannot be made in a rapid churn and burn cycle.
Canada, France, Italy, UK, Germany and the USA have a proven track record when it comes to making high quality, fashionable clothing and jewelry. The biggest difference between made in China versus North American and European clothing is that certain things are iconic, classic, and have lasting value – whereas there is nothing contemporary made in China worth saving. That should tell us all we need to know.
Success is a concept which was not even articulated until after the twelfth century. We spend our entire lifetime seeking something ill-defined and based on what? In truth – good food, a supportive and cohesive family, peace of mind, health, optimism, meaningful work, fresh air, mobility, quality of life – are all markers of success. Fame and fortune are actually very short lived, and create an illusion somewhat like a desert oasis. It is very appealing until you get there, and your hard won concept of success can go up in a puff of smoke. Even Elvis Presley ended up in a lonely and disenchanted place of addiction and loss of talent.
All art is an expression of emotion – depicting the extremes and experiences of our existential and inner condition. Whether art imitates life or life imitates art – one key point can be extrapolated in either case: life and art imitates and expresses emotion in every realm. Emotion is not to be discounted, trivialized, or contrived as being a disquieting hysteria coming from unstable females.
All throughout history different things have contributed to paradigm shifts, from religious oppression, to questioning dissonant conceptual frameworks. The cognitive and emotional factors can lead to mass awareness. Don’t let anyone convince you that being motivated by emotion is histrionic and illogical. We are all motivated by emotions. Thoughts are deeper than speech and emotions are deeper than thought. Therefore with some added logic, self-control and balance – our emotions can be the most powerful and driving force in our lives.
Copyright Valerie J. Hayes and Quiet West Vintage (2018). Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author/owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Valerie J. Hayes and Quiet West Vintage with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.