Data on the levels of contemporary consumption of fashion garments are startling. In 2012, average annual spending on clothing per UK household was £1700. Since then UK consumer expenditure on clothing and footwear has increased further. Worldwide, rates of spending on clothes show a similar trend. And in that same time the general trajectory of the price of clothing has been downward. We buy more; it costs less.
Yet we see little intrinsic value in material goods and their qualities. We don’t know how things are made, having little idea how they work as they do. We can’t tell one fibre from another by a quick appraising rub between finger and thumb. We don’t know a material or fabric construction by its hand and lustre. We don’t look for and appreciate – or even know about – the fine detail in a garment. We don’t revere the things we already have.
The craft of use treads this more truly material ground. It isn’t necessarily easy or attractive knowledge that we amass as we use clothes, but at least it will be our understanding and awareness garnered from handling, tending and wearing our fashion pieces. Could a pair of hands and eyes that have close involvement with and appreciate the potential inherent with a garment, help us to make choices that maintain us within material limits? Could a love for garments, transform us into lovers of the constraints of the broader world?