Fast fashion and globalisation have had a huge impact on the apparel industry, consumers, workers and the planet. When we started dropping the tariffs in the 80's we started the race to the bottom and began to kill our own industries, creating a massive loss of skills, knowledge and infrastructure. This has impacted not only the apparel industry, but young people who aspire to be designers, as they can no longer buy the fabrics and cannot get the garments made, as most factories have closed down and the outworkers are now retiring, so we will loose more skills and knowledge. The flow on effect has also impacted home sewers as the haberdashery stores, and fabric retailers have also closed as they could no longer buy wholesale fabrics here in NZ and the quantities for importing are often to high. The sewing machine mechanics have also retired, so if your machine breaks ...good luck! I have heard that people now drive from Palmerston North and New Plymouth to Tauranga to see our local sewing machine mechanic..When garments became so cheap to buy, it discouraged people from making clothes, as it was more expensive to buy fabric than a garment, meaning most people cannot even repair a hem and lets face it, most people just throw out a damaged item and buy another. The damaged items, even if they are a designer piece, are not accepted for sale in the Op shops, as they want to sell good quality goods. Anecdotal evidence indicates up to 90% of donated goods do not end up for sale.... many sadly go to landfill or make their way to the islands, where there are no landfills and end up being incinerated. All this after the original garment took a massive amount of resources to make ... I won't go into that in this post...lets save it for another day....however what we ended up with, is less and less choice.
Our shopping centres are full of the same stores, with the same garments... at ever decreasing prices, that actually do not reflect the true value of clothing... After all how can you compare ...a cup of coffee for the same price as a t-shirt? As prices came down, we started buying more and more garments, and now most of us have enough items in our wardrobes to last us the next 10 years, but it won't stop us looking for our next favourite dress, top or jacket. While minimalism works for some of us.... I think most of us still like to change things up and adapt our style from time to time, so your best option is to buy less and buy better- Opt for well fitting, great designs, made from good quality fabrics in styles that you know you can wear for years, OR buy secondhand... because often these garments are no longer available in store, so you are not as likely, to go out and find someone sitting across the restaurant wearing the same garment as you just bought. I also recommend buying plain garments, because prints are too easily recognisable.
And if you want to ensure you have an original design, perhaps make your own from existing resources, or buy a remade design. If you don't know how to sew. check out my workshops or register your interest as I guarantee even someone who has never sewn anything before will have success with my methods.