Do fine , professionally hand-made clothing fit in today’s lives?

15 July 2006

The role of the hand-made in modern society is not a new discussion (Wm. Morris recorded such discussion in another era) but the times are NEW. I make and sell hand-made accessories and the role of hand-made textiles in my life is obvious, large and satisfying. But what is its role in the life of the women who buy them?
Anything professional hand-made in a developed country will be costly, so it will not be bought because they need a scarf to keep warm. If you share my belief in aesthetic needs, then maybe we can say it satisfies an aesthetic need for the purchaser.
I find some parallels between hand-made shibori scarves and Savile Row bespoke suits in their small numbers produced, craftsmanship, price and clientele. Thomas Mahon is an elegant spokesman for Savile Row. Armani, a savvy designer that has built a business empire, has announced he will begin a haute couture line for men (a first) aimed at the Savile Row clientele. He also takes a few potshots at Savile Row, some of which come uncomfortable close to home (the use of only traditional fabrics in this time of sophisticated and highly functional textiles of mixed fibers). Gapingvoid has waded into the fray to defend Savile Row which it may not have needed. Armani is not undercutting their prices (Armani starts at 5000 Pounds, Savile Row 1600 Pounds) , so he perceives a underserved clientele! That is there are more people who want a special hand-made suit than there are satisfied Savile Row customers.
So what do the bespoke suit/shibori scarf customers have in common? Or more precisely, what need are these pricey, hand-made clothing items fulfilling in their lives?
Some of this was touched on in “Slow Fashion”. I’ll make a list of the observations I’ve made about my clientele:
disposable income
mature; baby boomers and older
design aware
not fashionistas
aware of the image they present
Things I think they want from my hand-made items:
to work well with the body they have
to fit with their exsisting lifestlye/wardrobe
uniqueness to indiviualize their look
to add something to the wardrobe they don’t have–could be a wow, or timelessness, elegance…


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