We are all aware, yet we facilitiate it every day. Fast fashion; accessible luxury—it's either poor quality, made in an unethical setting, or priced indecently high because of the effort aimed at having a celebrity endorsement rather than thinking of a means to directly communicate with the customer.
No, consumer retail is not broken.
It isn't broken because the same group of us that criticise Primark for their poor working conditions, or Nike for their child labour issues happily run back to the same brands for our next pair. I am wearing a pair of vintage Nike shoes right now, and no I do not condone child labour and taking advantage of the world's underpriveleged - yet as much as I try and convince myself that it is against my values, apart from reading the odd activist article or posting something on social media - I don't do anything about it. Instead when I need a new pair of shoes, there I am, back where it all started.
The re-hearsed hymns about mark-ups and how the wave of direct-to-consumer brands disrupting everything from eyewear (I contend we are different) to mattresses are positioned to cater to the millennial way of life and values. Every so often a charitable angle is mixed in to make the customer feel even better.
Yet even still, they do nothing but perpetuate the problem. Materials are used, workers aren't trained and the end result is atrocious quality that once again fits into this world of "fast fashion" or "accessible luxury". There is a scope in the consumers mind because the alternative is twice as expensive, so I guess to an extent it does make sense - but in terms of creating actual value, it simply isn't happening.
My generation seems to be the worst, we latch onto ideas without fully realising the consequences. We feed on the one-liner, the hashtag, the "sound bite", true analysis eludes us. There is so much misinformation distributed and we have created a world of "influencers" that facilitate a shitty idea to go viral when even they have no idea about the nonsense they are peddling.
Instead we are quickly disposing with true skills, craftsmanship, dedication to creating an amazing product. As brands that have at their inception secured their footing as "Traditional Luxury" create an increasing number of "diffusion" collections. They have established their brand and now we are the sheep that keep going back, prepared to convince ourselves the cheaper products are equivalent to the ones the brand made their name for....begging for acceptance and to be associated with a label.
The simple and pure fact is we have facilitated the creation of a lost generation when it comes to appreciating true skill and real quality. Rather we are the generation of "fast fashion" and facilitated the creation of the most poorly made goods ever.
If you want to change the world, the change begins with you. Demand to know who made what you buy whether it is cheap or expensive. Did they get paid fairly? Are they learning a skill? Is someone developing this skill so the materials they are using don't end up wasted? Is it even good quality or are you just buying into the label or because the brand happens to be a big advertiser or worn by James Bond?
Come to think of it, dear marketing team, Bond would look good in Archibald.
The information you need to be the change is all available to you and me. We just need to do the one thing better, the thing that separates us from our parents or grandparents. Stop being complacent and execute.