Today's guest post is by the very lovely Gaby of the luxury, handmade label Hopeless Lingerie out of Australia. My last Look for Less feature, featuring Frederick's of Hollywood and Bordelle Lingerie, caused a lot of controversy over on my Facebook and Twitter.
In an effort to present both sides of the story, I asked Gaby to share her perspective as a lingerie designer with my readers. Her post is presented in its entirety with no edits. If you enjoy Gaby's writing, you can also check out her behind-the-scenes blog Spokes 'n' Daggers.
Hi fans and lovers of The Lingerie Addict!
My name is Gaby and I am the lady behind Hopeless Lingerie
. I have been running my small business for almost 3 years and love every part of what I do. I was incredibly honored when Treacle asked me to address the issues concerning her 'Look for Less
' posts, after an interesting discussion about it all on Twitter. Treacle has been a supporter of me and what I do for a long time, and I have also been a fan and reader of her blog for years!
From the outset I will say that the idea does not sit comfortably with me as both a designer and consumer of lingerie. I expect this to be a controversial topic and would like to share my reasons for disagreeing. I do not expect everyone to agree with me but would love to engage in discussion about it.
The first reason I find 'Look for Less' problematic concerns the theft of intellectual property. I know first-hand the blood, sweat and tears that goes into creating a range of garments. From the initial idea making its way from your mind to a piece of paper, to the research into a theme, selecting the appropriate fabric and trimmings, meticulously drafting a paper pattern, draping the garment on a model, machine stitching and then hand sewing the final details - what we small business owners in the fashion industry do is an absolute labour of love. Some garments can be months or even years in the making. When you have an idea but are not sure how to execute it, it might be 5 or 6 attempts until you get it just right. Resources of course are not endless, as well as the cost of materials during the sampling stage, you are also at the same time promoting your business, posting your orders, doing made to measure and many more tasks to keep things running.
Can you imagine then, what the feeling must be for some national company with hundreds of employees and a comparatively astronomical budget to come along, send a picture of one of your pieces to a factory in China, and get them to copy it, for mass reproduction and sales nation wide? You can guarantee they will get it made as cheaply as possible, cutting corners so they can pass the savings onto the consumer. There is nothing wrong with taking inspiration from other designers, but when a garment is identical apart from 1 or 2 points, it is just theft.
But remember most of these sort of companies, who do not think twice about stealing from the little guy, also may not care who makes their product. You can never be sure that the company with questionable morals concerning theft of intellectual property, might also have questionable morals concerning the treatment of workers in foreign countries. This is a separate issue but worth mentioning when discussing lower priced and mass produced garments.
What I cannot understand is why these large companies with so many more resources, choose to steal original ideas when they could easily afford to employ a talented designer and create something truly amazing. Well maybe I can understand - its just about making money. Of course it is easier to steal designs than pay someone to create them. And that is the difference between these huge companies and small business - department store brands are profit driven, it is all about the bottom line. Niche brands are usually in it for the art and for the love. Money will often come lower on the list of priorities.
The other important point to me is difference between high quality and mass production. This is a personal preference that I know not everyone agrees with, but this is a large reason I have a problem with the 'Look for Less' posts. I have always believed I would rather have fewer, well made, well fitting, beautiful things to treasure, than more less special things that will get thrown away in a few months. I do believe that chain stores and mass produced items have a place in the industry, but I prefer to support the ones that support designers. And I also know that not everyone's budget is suited to higher priced items even after a lot of saving. But all consumers have the power to choose what sort of companies they will support. Of the 'Big Guys' in the fashion world there are some who conduct business more respectably than others and I think it is important to encourage that. Good quality does not always equate to a high price, just as the reverse is true.
Find out more about who you shop from, think about where your clothes and underwear come from, and just be educated. Of course I am incredibly biased on this topic, but even if I did not own a small lingerie business I would not want to support the theft of anything. Just because an idea is not a tangible thing, that does not mean it has no value. It is for this reason that consumers need to be much more discerning about what they buy.
I am sure this will ruffle some feathers but it is because I am really passionate about this topic, I urge you all to debate and discuss! Thank you Treacle and readers for having me! Gaby xoxo