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Friday, 16 April 2010

After three months in Canada I was so much looking forward seeing my friends and family back home. But this immense cloud seems to darken my sky at the moment, making it impossible for me to fly to Amsterdam this weekend. So while I consider my options of rescheduling for next week, I think it is best to do some pep-talking.

It was only yesterday that a Canadian designer told me that the supplier, from which she purchases one of her main fabrics, ran out of business. This is not the first person whom I heard this kind of news from, on the contrary, many designers are struggling with closing downs at the moment. Not just of fabric suppliers, but also of manufacturers that for example move their operations from North America to China. This is serious, because if designers don’t have access to fabrics and manufacturing, they won’t be able to create their lines anymore. What I have learnt from my conversations lately is that it is most wise to grow slowly, whether you’re a designer or a factory or another player in this industry. No matter what, fast growth often turns against you.

The good news is that the variety of fabrics has evolved immensely over the past few years. And so has the number of people that has focussed on strengthening their local manufacturing force. Some of us have to give up and retreat, while many others are feeling the opportunities out there. Many great entrepreneurs in our eco fashion world make amazing things happen as we speak. Several early pioneers have shared with me how they have overcome crises and now find themselves in a stronger position, as a company, as a brand and as a person than ever before. They told me stories of empowerment, involvement and personal growth and these are the stories we want to share in times like this.

That cloudy skies may make space for bright new ways of how we perceive the world.

Image: Sosume

Comments (3)Add Comment
Common Ground
written by mera, April 17, 2010
Dear Kim,

Nicely put we faced this issue as well on Bali. A lot of international designers choose to come down here to have their "slow fashion" manufactured in small workspaces. They created something beautiful together, the local artisan with his unique refined skills and the international designers with modern ideas and inspiration. A lot of the small workspaces have closed down because they could not win pricewise from the big boys from China and Java (often also foreigners). The only way to survive is to create a niche market which is more interested in the refined high quality and the honest way of producing the products(decent salary and hours, no child labor and sweat shops). We www.annliz.com is working together with these ethical international designers to create a bigger platform and to explore worldwide the market. We just started but we are fighting hard to improve this way the situation not only for Indonesia but also for the entire fashion industry by supporting the ethical movement and artistic creativity of the international designers.
Kind regards,

written by Philipa, April 19, 2010
Supporting local manufacturing is very important throughout the world. I am a big supporter of fair trade clothing. It is difficult to find a balance between buying materials and items locally and out-sourcing to cheaper countries. Providing there is support for local communities in these countries then I see no issue.
Micro Manufacturing Works
written by Cyndi Schuring, May 07, 2010
Our Studio supports a handfull of established and emerging designers...by clustering together we are able to retain the skilled labour capable of producing small batches of production. Add to that, we have found a few new avenues for cloth. Grow slow we do, since 1999...and this is a resource we are happy to share. If you are having trouble finding a solution to fabrics or manufacturing, then we are interested to know what you are looking for as we develop a new Natural Fabric Wolesale solution with goods made in Canada.

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