Who actually made your clothes?
This is a question that seems to be very difficult to answer, and isn’t raised often enough. It’s quite hard to imagine the path that our garments go through, from the cotton field to our wardrobes, and even harder to know for sure, what kind of a process a single item of clothing undergoes before it ends up in the rack. We are not arguing that everyone should make all of their own garments, this is quite impossible for even the most obsessed seamstress! Self-making is a good option, for so many reasons, but what we would like to pursue, is fairness and transparency in the whole clothing industry, so that it would be possible for us to choose garments that are ethically produced – and eventually making it possible not having to choose, but to make that self-evident.
Referring to our Fashion Revolution Day challenge #4 – employ a local dressmaker, we’d like to introduce to you Veera Vuorento, a woman who is passionate and ambitious about her business – being a professional dressmaker! Employing a dressmaker is a wonderful way of buying personal, long-lasting and ethically manufactured clothes. This way you can be sure about who has made your clothes, and even have a personal relationship to the maker. Here’s a letter from the dressmaker:
“I’m Veera Vuorento, a professional dressmaker. I’ve been working as an entrepreneur in the clothing business since 2011. Now I am running a dressmaker’s & fabric store with my co-partner Karolina Norteva. Our business is located in a 30-year-old fabric store in Käpylä, Helsinki, which we bought in 2012. In our store we have a fine selection of sewing goods and fabrics, we do our best to find unique patterns around the world. At our dressmaker’s we do a range of work from small repairs to custom-made clothing and textiles for interior design.
Our biggest motivator is passion, and we hope the people who visit our shop can feel it. The most important thing for us at our work is to connect with the customers. This way we can complete products that truly fulfill their hopes and needs. At its best, a custom-made product is manufactured near and from domestic materials. It copes better with time and change, also usually establishing an emotional bond. At our shop we greatly value the fact that a custom-made product can turn out to be an experience that lasts for years. It perfectly fits our ecological and ethical values, and fights against exaggerated consuming. Everyone can make an impact with the choices they make!
There are also downsides in entrepreneurship. For us, the biggest problem seems to be people’s prejudices. The industry’s cut-rate products are setting the price level now. At our shop the consumer gets domestic manual work, the price of which consists of quality, long-lasting materials, taxes, the worker’s salary and the frequent expenses, like rent, electricity, equipment etc. This price for the ethical choice seems to be too much, almost unfair to many. The price of cut-rate products is not questioned, it has become the basis. It takes a lot of work from us to rationalize cut-rate and our prices to the people. Still, it happens only because people don’t have enough information, not because they wouldn’t care.
Still we, me and Karolina, feel lucky. We work more than an ordinary employee working for somebody else, with a smaller salary, and we are asked to explain the value of our labour. But we’ve made our choice. With the work we do, we are part of the change to make ethical and environmentally friendly consuming routines.
Veera Vuorento (red dress) & Karolina Norteva (blue dress), www.veeravuorento.fi / facebook.com/Vuorento
P.s. As for Named, there is so much to do nowadays, that we are starting to co-operate with Norteva & Vuorento, and pass part of our sewing work to them, yay!
Have you ever bought custom-made garments from a dressmaker, or are you by any chance one yourself? We’d like to hear your comments!