FASHION FOR LOSERS

...choosing the right investment pieces

by Gill Linton
I love clothes but I don’t have many. I buy a few well-made designer pieces that I know I can wear a lot and not look like I’m wearing the same thing all the time. I mostly buy basics from pseudo vintage stores (more on that later), and try to avoid fast fashion brands. Apart from a few things from American Apparel and Uniqlo, oh and a knock-off Balenciaga riding hat from H&M, on the whole, there is a lot to lose from fast fashion.

1. Everyone looks the same. It’s not the individual clothes I object to, but the individuals who want to look like Lindsey Lohan or packaged reality TV d-listers.

2. Millions of tonnes of badly made clothes are thrown away by Americans each year, about 23.8 billion pounds of clothing and textiles ends up in U.S. landfills each year according to Levi’s and Goodwill, causing as much harm to the planet as the car industry, and much more harm to the people who make them. A textile worker takes a break at dawn after sanding jeans all night at a clothing factory in Guangdong Province, China. The blue dust from the jeans is a heavy irritant to the lungs.

3. While people have stopped investing in luxury brands design houses have still tried to grow. Yohji Yamamoto is yet another brand to file for bankruptcy, making me wonder what the people responsible for running these companies are thinking - too slow to adapt and trying to grow too fast without the resources to support it?

Umair Haque of Havas Media Lab wrote The Generation M Manifesto, a genius break up letter to ‘old people who run the world’. Of the 12 irreconcilable reasons to break up, this one in particular resonated with me, “You wanted growth — faster. We want to slow down — so we can become better.”

Dear Old People Who Run the World,

My generation would like to break up with you. Everyday, I see a widening gap in how you and we understand the world — and what we want from it. I think we have irreconcilable differences.

You wanted big, fat, lazy "business." We want small, responsive, micro-scale commerce. You turned politics into a dirty word. We want authentic, deep democracy — everywhere. You wanted financial fundamentalism. We want an economy that makes sense for people — not just banks. You wanted shareholder value — built by tough-guy CEOs. We want real value, built by people with character, dignity, and courage.

You wanted an invisible hand — it became a digital hand. Today's markets are those where the majority of trades are done literally robotically. We want a visible handshake: to trust and to be trusted. You wanted growth — faster. We want to slow down — so we can become better. You didn't care which communities were capsized, or which lives were sunk. We want a rising tide that lifts all boats. You wanted to biggie size life: McMansions, Hummers, and McFood. We want to humanize life.

You wanted exurbs, sprawl, and gated anti-communities. We want a society built on authentic community. You wanted more money, credit and leverage — to consume ravenously. We want to be great at doing stuff that matters. You sacrificed the meaningful for the material: you sold out the very things that made us great for trivial gewgaws, trinkets, and gadgets. We're not for sale: we're learning to once again do what is meaningful.

There's a tectonic shift rocking the social, political, and economic landscape. Here's what it looks like to me: every generation has a challenge, and this, I think, is ours: to foot the bill for yesterday's profligacy — and to create, instead, an authentically, sustainably shared prosperity. Anyone — young or old — can answer it. Generation M is more about what you do and who you are than when you were born. So the question is this: do you still belong to the 20th century - or the 21st?

Love, Umair and the Edge Economy Community

If you haven’t already, pay attention to Vivienne Westwood on BBC’s Jonathan Ross show, sharing her own manifesto: “Buy less, choose well. Don’t buy things for the sake of it because then everyone looks alike….I offer no choice but to ask for the end of indiscriminate consumption. If you have to choose something, save up and choose well.”

I even agree with Anna Wintour, (not a sentence I thought I’d hear myself say), who recently said, "I do feel an emphasis on quality and longevity and things that really last.” And to put her Manolo where her mouth is, (good job, who ever is doing your recession proof PR, Vogue), said, “I usually wear the same dress twenty times…I think it's always fun to have something new, but it doesn't mean that everything you already have in your closet has to be thrown out, you know? Recycle. It’s totally okay — I even recommend it.”

So here’s a manifesto of my own: It’s called the ‘Stop Buying New Crap’ manifesto.

Buy used basics: Frankly they look better worn in and the fast fashion chains are knocking the cuts off anyway. And please don’t spend $1,573.00 on a Balmain ‘vintage inspired’ t-shirt when you can buy the real thing for a few bucks.

Buy timeless: one of a kind quality vintage, so you don’t look like everyone else: The proliferation of thrift and consignment masquerading as vintage has made it harder to find to the real thing. It’s easy to find very expensive vintage couture and very easy to find cheap vintage clothes, either because it is in fact thrift, because it’s what everyone else is wearing like lace dresses, ripped up denim, rocker T’s, cowboy boots and granny boots, or, it’s obviously dated by the trend of an era. Pucci, I respect it, but please, not now.

It is, however, difficult to find the kind of vintage everyone thinks they’ll find if they put in the time and effort; the well made, timeless or on-trend pieces that are easy to mix with contemporary looks and don’t cost vintage couture or contemporary Balmain prices for that matter. It’s out there - you just have to know where to look.

It might take time, but I guess that’s why they call it slow fashion.