When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life : Samuel Johnson.
It's a bold statement but one we relate to, London has always been a melting pot of the world, everything and anything is possible in London. A far cry from the sleepy village of Annesley where our humble HQ is based, and we love London.
After spending two days at the London Textile Fair we have another bold statement. What the fuck has happened to British Fashion?
This resounded from the Turks, the Italians and various other nationalities in attendance.
It's a simple answer.
The likes of Primark, H&M and to some extent, Zara. Throw in the supermarkets and a few more into the mix and that's what's happened to British Fashion. We want cheap. As cheap as possible. No issues if it's kids in the backstreets of Bangladesh making it for 25p a day. With cheap comes loss of style and loss of quality.
Lets throw in a bit of Sauce & Brown at this point. 30 quid for a bloody S&B T-Shirt? I can get T-Shirts at Primark for 2 quid! And therein lies the problem, throwaway fast fashion, it's cheap.
Back to the London Textile Fair.
The Italians, now they can wear a suit, the cut of the suit always looks great. They can wear a white T-Shirt with Jeans and trainers, this looks effortlessly cool. It looks cool because what they are wearing is not cheap. A white T-Shirt maybe, but a quality white T-Shirt.
The Italians like the British, like a smart phone. Wether Samsung or Apple, it has to be a good phone, we have to have the latest model etc. You wouldn't be seen dead with a cheap phone, so why do us British have the best phones yet wear the cheapest White T-Shirt? And there is the answer. The phone is the latest fashion and more important as an accessory.
Back to the fabrics on display at the Textile Fair, we know the game here. Beautiful fabrics. The customer will order a few metres of the latest designs from the European Mills, receive it, send it off to Bangladesh and replicate this in a cheaper yarn count, deconstructed and in store for your buying pleasure in 8 weeks time. The general public can proceed to throw away and await the next fix from fashion fast conveyor belt. But it's not fashion, it's an addiction where everyone loses. The consumer has too much choice so the consumer reverts to basics, in basic colours.
The rule of thumb for Fast Fashion, buy 4 bags of cheap clothes at £100. As the consumer gets home, two bags get put aside as they were impulse buys never to be worn but instead sent to the charity shop. The two remaining bags, one bag will get worn for a couple of weeks, until a couple of washes ruins the garment, It's cheap, it's throwaway. The remaining bag is the mystery bag. The bag where you may have found something that works for you, this will last a bit, say 3 months in the Fast Fashion world, that's the good bag. The £25 bag. To achieve the good bag at £25, you have spent £100. Next month, the process will be repeated, then again, then again.
When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life.
When a man is tired of fashion, he is tired of himself.
How does S&B cope in this everyone loses environment? We don't cheat our customer for one. Our designs are fresh, have meaning and are loved by us. The fabrics we use are of high quality yarns. We can go technically deep here, but it may be a tad boring. Ask us if you want to know.
And how we cope is education. We happily explain to customers the process, the fabrics, the prints and that all parties in the supply chain eat.
This is why that at the London Textile Fair, our question to the suppliers was not how cheap it was. If it's right and we believe in the fabric on offer, we will buy it.
The exhibitors at the show had travelled from all over the globe, to be asked "how cheap is it?" is not British at all. That's not pride in our once great industry.
So with a stiff upper lip we will stand firm and pray to god that Fast fashion does a fast exit. Not just for us, but for all those educated suppliers.
It's cheap for a reason.