Factory 45

Factory 45 functions like an online toolkit for learning how to start a fashion brand.  It breaks down the steps needed to start a line in areas such as communicating with factories, making an appropriate budget for production and sourcing appropriate materials.

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Style Lend

Style Lend is a way to rent the clothing of others, or to rent out clothing that you own but aren't using very much.  It was started by Long Alia, as a way to participate in fun fashion trends without simultaneously contributing to increased apparel-related environmental degradation.

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Deluxe

Deluxe is one of the first books that I read that linked clothing to sustainability issues for me.  Sustainability isn't a specific topic in the book, which is unsurprising given the year of publication (2007) but the connection is present, particularly in hindsight.  Deluxe is also a book that offers an explanation for why it feels like we (the common, non-fancy consumers) were suddenly surrounded by everything fancy, seemingly overnight.

The author, experienced journalist Dana Thomas, walks the reader through the origins of luxury, from when clothing and luggage were made to order, crafted from beginning to end by one person, rather than manufactured on an assembly line.  At that time, rich artisanal materials and careful, personal process were what categorized a product as a luxury item.  Then gradually the great luxury houses such as Louis Vuitton, Chanel, and Dior were bought, sold, absorbed and reconfigured by the desires of the shareholders and the mass market.  Over time they became brands, focusing more on profit, production costs, and retail stores, than on the hand-crafted, personalized goods which had been their hallmark.

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Future Fashion White Papers

It is troubling that when we aim for change, we sometimes falter because the change seems to lack sufficient magnitude to justify the effort.  For example, it is startling to hear people say that alternative energy is a pointless pursuit because it only supplies a minuscule amount of that which is necessary to meet our needs.  This line of thinking leaves me cold because everything starts small.  There were horses, and now there are cars.  There were leeches, and now there is medicine and surgery.  People wore animal skins, and now there is fine cloth knit on intricate machines.  It is productive instead to view the process of cleaning up our world as an intricate web, and one where every small victory is another crucial thread untangled.

Future Fashion White Papers leads me to think about this phenomenon because when I first read it, five or so years ago, finding information about where and how my clothing was made felt impossible, and locating designers and makers working on sustainable, or even local, production was an uphill battle.  But now, only five years later, it feels that much progress has been made.

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