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FOCUS: MARNI

Who says it's not possible to succeed by remaining true to yourself in an industry as competitive, changing and demanding as fashion?

Founded in the mid-1990s by designer Consuelo Castiglioni and her husband Gianni, Marni has achieved success by remaining true to its vision and identity, as concrete as recognizable. Conceptual and sophisticated. Austere and imaginative. Timeless and avant-garde, Marni - ignoring trends and despising red carpets - has established itself at the epicentre of the fashion landscape. 

 


The Italian brand has become well known - and much appreciated - for its unconventional forms, its shocking prints, its ugly shoes and its fantasy jewellery. Gallerists, Architects and Fashion Creatives such as Mario Testino and Jamie Hawkesworth are among its dedicated fanbase.

With its particular European-inspired aesthetics, Marni has evolved over the years into today's aerodynamic style maintaining its peculiar balance of antagonistic concepts, impregnating modern classics with a peculiar bohemian inflection.

 

 

In 2013 Marni became part of OTB, an international group that brings together and promotes the development of alternative brands in the luxury sector such as Diesel and Maison Margiela. Shortly afterwards, the Castiglioni family handed over the creative direction of Marni to Francesco Risso - a former student of the Centre de Saint-Martins and Creative Director for more than ten years at Prada - who renewed and reinforced the brand codes with a spirit of irreverence and anti-conformism.

Inspired by sources as varied as the Dada art movement of the early 20th century, childhood memories and Japanese deconstructionists, Risso expanded the Italian brand's tailoring vocabulary by fusing Castiglioni's radiant colours and uncommon quality with elements of the art world and a total rejection of industry conventions.

 

 

 

 

Marni has recently stopped working with fur and on the subject of sustainability, Risso believes that as a company, they are taking steps to improve certain areas, particularly in regard to fabrics. They also have a charitable programme, Marni Market, that works with communities making artisanal products.

As one of the most copied brands in the market that seems to be off the radar, Marni has ambitiously expanded internationally by establishing stores in the best areas of cities such as Milan, London, Paris, Los Angeles and Tokyo. 

Marni is a mystery box. Is a vortex of extreme influences and playfulness, of contradiction and dynamism. It’s many things and it’s the immense number of possibilities that makes it so exciting.

 

 

 

Although many disliked Risso's entry into Marni, it is visible that the brand's halo of success continues to work well: new boutiques continue to open and all online stores - including us, LABOUTIK - fill with the brand each season, from the commercial pieces to the most eccentric outfits.

Innovative and multifaceted, Marni is recognized all over the world and it has become a symbol of elegance and sophistication. Marni is a beloved lifestyle with an avant-garde spirit that holds a creative ongoing dialogue with the world of art.

 

July 28, 2019 by La Boutik

THE MYTH OF ORIGINALITY

Fashion is notorious for ransacking the world’s closets in search of inspiration, but designers are no more culturally acquisitive than chefs who prepare fusion cuisine, musicians in search of the best sample, or any of us who pepper our conversations with foreign phrases in search of a certain je ne sais quoi.

The globe is a rich buffet of inspiration and all of us are blessed with choice.

 

 

DANNI HARRIS GRADUATE CSM COLLECTION

Danni Harris Graduate CSM Collection

 

Every literary work, every masterpiece of painting, every innovation and design is the product of connecting concepts or ideas that already exist. Nevertheless, staying on the right side of the inspiration requires individual awareness and attention to the source and similarity. Something ignored by many that opt for “inspiration” (a.k.a, cheeky and unscrupulous copying) as an infallible design method.

Low-cost brands democratize catwalk trends by creating affordable versions and big designers are caught up in controversies accused of paying too much attention to the work of small brands or timeless geniuses (the list is so long that we could spend here all day).

 

 

 

Although start-ups such as Diet Prada - an Instagram account that has become an industry watchdog when the fine line between copy and inspiration is crossed - are helping small businesses that do not have the financial resources to litigate and artists to highlight the serious lack of respect for their works, it is stipulated that fashion designers can analyse and copy any existing idea, use it and develop it.

 

 Thierry Mugler’s SS98 “La Sirène du Futur” - Ludovic de Satin Sernin's SS20 “Wet ‘n’ Wild”.

 

The law considers clothing and accessories as a basic good on which the possibility of patents cannot be limited. However, what does exist is the Trademark ie; we can copy a model or an article, but we can never copy the brand image, usually represented by the logo (the reason why we can find it literally covering favoured items).

 

 

As there are no copyrights in this industry, there is a very open and original ecology of creativity. Charlie Parker said that one of the reasons he invented bebop - a musical style of jazz - was because he was sure that white musicians would not be able to reproduce the sound. He wanted it to be too difficult to copy. And that’s what fashion designers do. They create their own version of their inspiration, an aesthetic that reflects who they are and distinguishes them from the rest, an identity that marks territory.

 

 

Some may say that originality has to do with individuality, hence an element becomes original when it does not refer to anything around it. Others will most likely argue that it is related to temporality: for something to be original it needs to break into reality, come out of nowhere. But nothing emerges from nothingness.

Each generation advances on what has been done by previous generations. Especially in the era of the all-seeing Internet, originality - or rather “transformative inspiration” -  is a difficult game, a paradox, something marvellously contradictory: the works are “partly original”, creative, innovative, daring, seductive, provocative, novel... but the originality of ideas is a myth and knowing it, a relief.  

 

FOCUS: GAUNTLETT CHENG

Gauntlett Cheng began as a loose conversation in the back of a taxi. Today, it has become a legacy in the hands of designers Esther Gauntlett and Jenny Cheng, a duo that constantly surprises the audience with its clearly rough but slightly effeminate aesthetics. The brand is a remarkable and fresh appreciation of two distant but harmonious sources, the fierce and unscrupulous and the sexy and delicate. Gauntlett Cheng makes fashion without apologies, creating an extraordinary niche in the New York fashion scene.

  

 

 

Gauntlett’s interests lie in the actual production of the clothes, while Cheng is resident textiles expert. The brand’s handmade quality stands in stark contrast to the slick offerings of other designers, and that’s exactly the point. After days in the corporate world, they head to their Williamsburg studio - the same workshop where they met working as interns for Eckhaus Latta - to keep creating together in their own basis, focusing on what they’re really passionate about.

 

“Our clothes tend to reflect fairly honestly our environment and our immediate realities”

 

The American design duo creates powerful and slightly fetishistic clothing, always starring a deeply contemplative palette of colours. Gauntlett Cheng is a brand that also has a remarkable way of bridging the extremes while feeling cohesive, attracting celebrity provocateurs such as Rihanna or Beyoncé.

 

 

 

Gauntlett Cheng is a company in continuous development. New York does not offer much institutional support to young fashion designers so they are adapting to a more sustainable model, no seasons, a big show every September, keeping the spirit alive. 

 

“We really wanted to make decisions that would preserve the brand, that would preserve our mental health. We really want this brand to exist forever."

 

Gauntlett Cheng is undergoing a constant metamorphosis. They specialize in textured and touchable clothing that joyfully shows the body with, as Cheng said, “sexy energy”. Both designers like to add an extra magic touch to their ideas, collaborating with artists such as Jared Madere, who decorated selected pieces from Gauntlett Cheng SS19 collection.

 

 

 

Many designers have problems to present a particular vision without losing the seal or the essence, but through the juxtaposition of styles -between conservative and modern- Gauntlett Cheng constantly sends A+ pieces to the catwalk, which literally and metaphorically - presented by a very generous casting- are the representation of diversity, freedom and counter-power.

Gauntlett Cheng is a brand that pushes the boundaries shaping the fluid gender landscape driven by the New York underground fashion community. A label elevating the evidence of diversity, achieving comfort with one's shape, giving seduction a little twist, mastering one of the things that seem to be the most difficult to keep in balance: how to be just the right amount of sexy while cutting edge.

 

 

If anything distinguishes LaBoutik it is the constant support of innovative and distinctly powerful brands that not only have a high design value but also have the strength and vision to represent the best of today's socio-cultural movement.

Enjoy our selected products from the noteworthy brand and don't miss Gauntlett Cheng's upcoming collection, soon available for purchase both in-store and on our website.

 

THE RULES OF LUXURY HAVE CHANGED

  

 

 


Samuel Ross is emptying the traditional rules of luxury, replacing them with the ones that speak the language of our times. His brand, A COLD WALL is rather a dialogue between the product and the consumer that evolves over time. It is a discourse that rethinks the fashion business and serves to change the future.

As the designer recently announced, his next show will have open doors, building a bridge to the evolution of the textile industry so that the democratization, perhaps utopian, of the product can begin to become effective. A simple but powerful idea that will give those who love design and fashion, but cannot afford or are far from approaching this coveted world, accessibility to something that only happened in their imagination.

In addition, Ross has revealed that he will build the upcoming collection set design with sustainable materials, with the aim of raising awareness - for the most part - to all those 16-year-olds who will not go to school to attend - or at least try - the A COLD WALL parade, ensuring the conquest in social networks that will help the brand and its objectives be exposed to a level less explored by members of the fashion world.



“Fashion traditionally has talked down to consumers, so by opening up to the public, I’ll be chipping away at the perspective of how luxury fashion should operate"

 



 

There was a time when at the top of fashion was haute couture, at the centre were the big brands, and at the base was an enormous number of distributors of clothing for the masses. But this is no longer the case today.

The culture of subcultures has moved from the background to the centre of the world scene, and any designer who has understood it right now is the one who sets the rules. Samuel Ross has listened to the street, making a considerable niche in the industry, becoming one of the ambassadors of streetwear in the world.

The Internet boom has caused all major brands to reconsider their modus operandi, selling through e-commerce - such as Prada as a team with Highsnobiety - or mixing haute couture with popular fashion, such as Adidas integrating Yohji Yamamoto or Nike working along with Samuel Ross himself, who has revealed that  will use Nike Flyleather in his designs for sneakers to move forward, adding that he is eager to continue working with sustainable materials and also hopes to incorporate green elements into his scenery.

 

 

 

Since he began his career at age 25 - after selling counterfeits in his neighbourhood, hungry for consumerism and far from being the prototype of an artist leaving the centre of Saint Martins - in just four years, Ross has made a name for himself as a figure to watch on the international fashion scene, winning a British Fashion Council Fashion Award for the Emerging Male Apparel Designer in 2018, and earning a nomination for the LVMH and ANDAM awards of the same year. The brand has become a resounding success and counts with stock in notable platforms such as Ssense, Barneys New York or Dover Street Market. 

Samuel's work fluctuates between architecture, design and fashion. It is inspired by the working class from which it comes to develop its designs, the parades are performances and the garments are weapons loaded with a communicative sense for those who consume them.

 

 

Today, very few people still think that traditional marketing alone is capable of influencing consumers' purchasing decisions. They want to know what is behind a brand, what it can offer them in exchange for their money, how they can be part of the vision, what they can rely on. 

Luxury is no longer an outright arms race of skill between brands like Hermès, Louis Vuitton and Chanel - although authenticity and tradition still have much prestige for the world's luxury consumers - today, luxury has no law. Luxury is rebellion. Luxury is freedom.

 

 

Ross is aware of his power and responsibility as a cultural leader and does not hesitate to use fashion as a tool so that the ambitious and aspirational generation that reigns today develops under the guidelines of a message that goes in the direction of a transparent future where consciousness plays a key role in the history of our time.

 

  “There is further insight beyond the immediacy of just the clothes” 

 

 

 


 

 








FOCUS: BARRAGAN

As a powerful reminder that versatility welcomes all ages, races, sexualities and measures, BARRAGÁN gives life to a humorous reinterpretation of reality - sometimes too narrow and old-fashioned - avoiding all those established closures, creating a world of freedom of expression in which style and originality are the guests of honour.

BARRAGÁN - founded in 2014 as an experimental underground fashion label by the Mexican designer Víctor Barragán, who although does not possess any fashion background, endows an entrepreneurial and passionate spirit - decontextualizes and makes us wonder if what "should be" is adequately stipulated for a world that seeks to be free of prejudice. 


 

BARRAGÁN was born as a digital brand. First, it was called Ytinifninfinity and had no temporariness; the garments were being launched and adapted to the needs of their consumers - most of whom were in Asia. It was focused in designing ironic t-shirts that incorporated nostalgic references to pop cultures, such as Leonardo DiCaprio crying tears made of MS-DOS folders or a t-shirt spelling L.E.S.B.I.A.N using the logo of Friends.

When Victor decided to move to New York, the project changed its name and began to be formalized, always under a banner of experimentation, without placing barriers or limits on what - according to what society has established - can and cannot be done.

 

 

With YtinifninfinitY, Victor Barragán started to build a firm platform on Facebook, Tumblr and Instagram, which as reported by the designer, has been something key for BARRAGÁN success. Today, the brand is considered a fixed name in NY's fashion agenda.

Wild aesthetics, tribal motifs, references to low-calibre pop culture moments and the incorporation of accessories made of organic elements - such as a stone handbag - are some of the recurring resources of the brand, which has become the favourite of anyone who prefers to be interesting and ugly rather than beautiful and easy to forget. 

 

“Add Barragán to the list of next-generation brands bored of society’s obsession with labels and phobias, proudly and sexually asserting power through mixing men’s, women’s and unisex."

 

 

His pieces, made in Mexico, mix classic men's and women's items to create new garments that can be worn by both sexes, giving a twist to fashion trends. 

For BARRAGÁN - that has collaborated with other artists such as Maryam Nassir Zadeh, Rombaut and the Mexico based brand, Ready To Die - the term “commercial” equates to the gag of creative freedom and artistic expression.

 

 

Víctor Barragán denies the disappearance of naturalness, protests against the undervaluation of the original, changes the strict rules regarding the canons of beauty for a wide and diverse range of possibilities.

In fashion, there are no barriers, everything is allowed, it's a way to talk openly about whatever is wanted. BARRAGÁN transforms into garments all those sensations that are born from the freedom of the body, the unique being, without prejudices, manifesting the beautiful by nature.

At LABOUTIK, we proudly support and want to share the philosophy and mentality behind BARRAGÁN, as we believe it is an important message of awareness and evolution. Take a look at the BARRAGÁN products we have exclusively selected on our website and discover what this one-of-a-kind brand has to offer.

 

May 28, 2019 by La Boutik

THE POWER OF VIRTUAL CELEBRITIES

The fashion industry recently woke up to the opportunity of creating virtual celebrities. In 2013, Louis Vuitton designed tour costumes for virtual avatar Hatsune Miku, a sixteen-year-old Japanese singer who performs her concert onstage as an animated projection hologram and has collaborated with artists such as Lady Gaga and Pharrell. The brand also enlisted fictional video game character Lightning - a pink-haired avatar from the “Final Fantasy” video game series - for its Spring/Summer 2016 advertisement campaign. Riccardo Tisci, during his tenure as creative director of Givenchy, also designed an exclusive haute couture gown for Miku, who modelled for American Vogue’s May 2016 issue.

 

 

More recently, Shudu Gram (@shudu.gram) - which appeared on Rihanna's Instagram account promoting its line of cosmetics, Fenty Beauty and which today is the image of Balmain - known as the first 3D supermodel, which challenges (even more) the concept of inclusion and diversity in the female beauty standard of our era.

 

 

But the most overwhelming case is undoubtedly Miquela (@lilmiquela), which was born in 2016 and has 1.5 million followers on Instagram. Miquela is a young Hispanic-Brazilian character, "residing" in Los Angeles and projecting IT-Girl identity by wearing well-known brands such as Chanel, Proenza Schouler, Supreme, Vetements and Off-White and also supporting emerging designers. Miquela has started her musical career launching several musical themes and collaborating with notable artists. She is a regular face at major events and has also starred in editorials for magazines such as Paper.

 

 

After three years we already know a little bit of what the story is about: behind this not great, but awesome idea, there is Brud, a company specialized in robotics, artificial intelligence, applications to media businesses and the one in charge of Instagram’s most popular virtual influencers and their less well-known partners in crime; Blawko22 (@blawko22) - Miquela’s brother - and BermudaisBae (@bermudaisbae) - Miquela's friend - who has no interest in fashion and supports the ideals of Donald Trump.

Brud has raised millions of dollars from Silicon Valley investors and brands that request their creations with promotional purposes.

 

 

 

We have entered a phase of history in which we have normalized that relationships can be created and maintained through virtual environments. 

With the appearance of radio and, especially, television, the affective and intimate relationships that some members of the audience projected towards characters from television could be lived as real, but there was a lack of reciprocity in the interaction. Brud's virtual characters are able to interact on social media, opening up a whole world of possibilities, setting the ultimate trap.

The fan knows that they are not real, but their affections are. It's a choice, a game they choose to play: because it allows them to feel accompanied, because it entertains them, because it gives them some kind of gratification, in short. 

 

"The community stems from a place that feels safe to communicate and voice your opinions. When you’re only showing the world and not engaging it becomes one-sided. Taking in the likes, the comments, even the hate, and you stop learning from others around you. Learning also comes from listening, so if you don’t have space for people to speak to you, then you’re limiting your growth." Miquela.

 

 

 

Miquela has published content that defended the Black Lives Matter movement or the rights of transgender people, but what if she made an apology for the possession of weapons? It can be worrying who can use these profiles and for what purposes so maybe it's time to park the debate fiction vs. reality and worry more about what social values each one promotes.

If all this seems visionary to you, Black Mirror already saw it coming in 2013. The third chapter of the second season, The Waldo Moment, reflects on how a cartoon ends up being presented to the elections and not only do you win but, years later, becomes a world leader.

The question is - beyond marketing and the commercial aspect - could these characters play a really transforming social function? 

ADAPT OR DIE. THE BLOCKCHAIN.

Companies in the fashion sector demand systems that guarantee the traceability of their products, either to protect their reputation, to inform their customers or to guarantee their quality and authenticity.

The blockchain technology (the platform on which virtual currencies are based) eliminates all the negative idiosyncrasies that arise in the relationship between the licensee, the brand, the point of sale and the consumer. Each sale of licensed products can be perfectly registered and the way it is produced and distributed can be verified without the need to invest in additional costs. Here's how:

Blockchain is a type of logbook distributed to maintain a permanent and tamper-proof record of transactional data that cannot be controlled or manipulated, as is protected with a system virtually impossible to hack.

A chain of blocks, or blockchain, functions as a decentralized database that is managed by computers, this means it does not require intermediaries (financial entities or the government). Each team in the distributed network maintains a copy of the logbook and all copies are updated and validated simultaneously.

 

 

 

Thanks to the traceability that allows building a blockchain system, two aspects that we consider to be extremely important will be affected by this system: counterfeits (which move about 500 billion dollars a year) could be limited as they would be evidenced by the veracity of the authorship of the original designs and furthermore, thanks to blockchain, consumers could ensure that brands develop their products sustainably, not only by confirming non-pollution but also by conducting fair trade and involving suppliers who guarantee the quality of the working environment of their employees and a fair wage, as all information would be left behind.

 

 

 

In conclusion, thanks to blockchain technology, we return to the origin of business relationships: trust. Consequently, the world of fashion is immersed in a clear revolution where only those who know how to adapt to the new impositions marked by technological advances will be able to make the most of existing opportunities.

And when does the "but" come?

But...there are obstacles in this millionaire dream. It turns out that this system can only be used by people who really want to use it. And who in the industry is absolutely sure that they can show all their data without the world judging their movements and condemning them for any jumped or unjustified movement?

Very few are those who can be completely transparent and survive in the fashion world but for those who want to keep everything in place ethically, this technology is an encrypted dream.

As far and heavenly as it may sound, this has already been achieved with specialized brands. We are still crossing our fingers to see it happens in the mass market.


SHARING SPACES WITH KIDDY SMILE

  

 

 

Kiddy Smile, born Pierre Edouard Hanffou, is a French artist, producer and disc jockey particularly known for his promotion of the New York Voguing movement on the Parisian scene as well as his LGBT activism.  

Before working in music, Kiddy Smile was a fashion designer and also worked in events before launching himself as a DJ in Paris. His influences include black American music such as gospel and hip-hop, including Chicago and Detroit music of the 1990s, the voguing movement and the New York house music ballrooms.

Initially reluctant to be categorized, Kiddy Smile eventually adopted a culture in which his skin colour, love of fashion and homosexuality were fully accepted. His talent and extravagance made him known to the public and earned him the nickname of "the French prince of voguing".

In this super casual and easy going interview that takes place along Portobello Road, where LaBoutik is located, we found out Kiddy Smile is one of a kind charismatic stylish character driven by a passion and a great talent for music, developing hits such as Let A B!tch Know, Slap My Butt and Dickmatized, turned into the soundtrack of the film Climax, directed by the renowned film director, Gaspar Noé who did not hesitate to give a role in the film to the talented artist.

As the example of never giving up, of identity, of struggle, of integrity and humility,  all of it, part of the living image of kindness, Kiddy Smile answers a series of questions about lifestyle, music and fashion for ASERIES OFSPACES, curated by LaBoutik team.

 

 

FOCUS: Boris Bidjan Saberi

Boris Bidjan Saberi is one of the leaders in the avant-garde of contemporary menswear, considered as the heiress generation of great Japanese designers like Yohji Yamamoto and an essential date during the Paris Fashion Week.

Attracted by the Spanish way of life, Boris Bidjan produces his collections from a workshop located in Barcelona, a cosmopolitan city and the European mecca of skateboarding, notable influence on the young designer work.

Saberi launched his own menswear brand in 2007 and at the beginning of 2013, exalting his interests for the punk movement and the hip hop culture, the designer launched a second line aimed at a streetwear audience: “11”, an experimentation with graphical applications and thorough research in graphics and treatments.

 

 

His German roots reflected in the most pragmatic and minimalist aesthetics; and his Persian side which emerges in the special devotion to texture and details coexists on efficient designs where artisanal and natural are fused with high-tech fabrics, seeking functionality and standing up for quality.

 

 

While developing his own label, Saberi also collaborated with notable brands such as New Era, Solomon or Reebok, that placed reliance on the meticulous designer to create a limited edition model of the iconic Instapump Fury.

Bori Bidjan designs are dominated by dark tones that drive almost all the attention to the design of the clothes, although there is no lack of luminosity on his work as he also explores within an exquisite pallet of bright and vivid colours.

 

“I use a lot of blacks because it suits my skin and it fits me. All the changes you see in the collections is an evolution in creativity and living life happily and truly.”

 

 

 

Tireless seeker of new forms, Saberi manages to transport us to a futuristic millenary Japan and delights us with the Bedouin breeze of nomads of the desert. A vest that turns into a fanny pack, unbreakable buttons or waterproof long-lasting products is some of the ideas that the talented designer brought to life with the intention of covering day-life needs.

The message under the aim of functionality intends to criticize society behaviour as one of the many other moral concerns of the artist, making an approach that denounces the culture of “use and throw”.

 

 

If we consider the end of the era of technology and the return of the primitive where artisanal forms that this designer defends are a common process, as a possibility; wouldn’t it be a revolutionary movement today?

In a world in which fashion is being distorted and separated from art, approaching at a strategic speed towards numbers and masses, it is remarkable the involvement and commitment of the designer to offer quality and authenticity.

Boris Bidjan Saberi does not aim the commercial expansion. He doesn’t consider responding to higher demand, his priority is to maintain the singularity and excellence of his product, retaining the spirit of the brand intact.

At LABOUTIK, we share Boris Bidjan's vision and we are happy to support his goal of keeping fashion as something special, useful and with great design value. Soon available online and in our store, the 2020 collection.

 

Keep posted!

 

ACT OF FAITH OR MARKETING STRATEGY?

With Kanye West, you never know. This time, apart from attracting half of Coachella's total assistance (50.000 out of 100.000 people) to the foot of a hill last Sunday at 9 a.m. to offer a performance crowned as "Sunday service",  Kanye West managed to form an infinite queue of people waiting to buy ridiculous overpriced "Church Clothes" merch. The collection was composed of basic, neutral-coloured items, each of which contained several God-fearing slogans, including "Holy Spirit," "God of Trust," and "Jesus Walks". Sweatshirt prices range from 130£ to 215£, and the socks cost 40£

 

 

Even though all sorts of criticisms were made in which jokes abounded, a bunch of people was more than willing to pay an exorbitant amount for the simplest of t-shirts. What's wrong with us? It's not possible for humans - the creators of space stations - to get carried away so easily. Is it? Well, bad news, it is and we'll explain why; 

The more expensive something is, the more exclusive and therefore more desirable it becomes. In the eyes of designers, there does not seem to be a shortage of consumers who believe they can buy personal power with what they are wearing. They want the item in the first place, they want items that are scarce or are made in limited runs, and they are willing to pay a lot of money for that to happen. 

In many cases, designers raise the price of their products simply to get an added shine of prestige and exclusivity. So, the short answer to why designers charge so much for their products is as simple as; because they can.

It's the price, as much as the product itself, that makes an item remarkable. The price, and the fact that most of the world cannot afford to buy such an item which has the reverse effect of empowering the buyer. In this society, no matter how little we like it, the reality is that personal power is synonymous with purchasing power. And it's not just a marketing tactic, it's a psychological condition that top designers count on

 

 

But, what is the real price of clothes?

The gross margins of fashion companies tend to be around 65 per cent, which seems a lot, but it's what the shareholders expect. It also means that a 3,500£ bag costs approximately 1,225£ to produce and bring to market, from materials to sales.

There are many steps along the way that contribute to the final price. There are the costs of raw materials, design, manufacturing and compliance. Then, in retail, there is the cost of prime real estate and sales staff. And finally, there's marketing. Yeah, those brilliant fashion ads cost a lot of money to produce, and much more to place.  

That is why, in order to minimize costs with the excuse of boosting exports, increasing economic growth and creating employment in depressed areas, some trade barriers are eliminated in free trade zones that are located in impoverished countries in order to be able to produce their products in countries where the expense of paying workers is minimal.

In Bangladesh, for example, the average pay of these employees is 35£ per month, equivalent to a minimum wage that is among the lowest in the world. This allows firms to lower point-of-sale prices to levels that, if they had to bear the costs of first world wages, taxes and safety conditions, would not be "competitive".

So, do they take their factories to the third world to lower costs or do they do it to further increase their profits?

 

 

The underlying problem is to assume that the only way for cheap clothing to be available is for it to be produced in unworthy conditions. In today's interconnected and exposed world, companies take maximum care of their image and one of the reasons why they do not face a strict change is the great social and legal premise that they would suffer if they exposed the "how" of their textile productions.

For fashion companies to stop ignoring what we all know as an open secret, legal reform is needed, as well as an imposition by consumers, who are complicit in the faults of the companies, since in general the concern falls on being able to buy cheap clothes rather than on the conditions of the workers who manufacture them and the climatic consequences that this entails.

Transparency and education are the first steps and the sustainable way to relate to what we wear, the ultimate solution.