Not as luxurious

When it comes to the surprising thing about luxury fashion brands, at least those in Italy (as those in France could be different to some extent) those working on luxury brands like Prada and Gucci aren’t always paid much for what they do even when they should. After all, what they’re doing and working on is a high quality product so they should be paid more than what’s been done to them before and still is so now. Actually, I think all garment workers (regardless if they work in luxury or not) should be paid more because they work hard at it.

Not to mention they need more money so that they can support themselves and others, so that’s probably why some of them have two jobs. One has to support the other, otherwise they’re not able to earn enough to help themselves and their families. If luxury brands like Gucci are guilty of using forced labour, not only are they just as bad as their fast fashion counterparts are they also should do better when it comes to providing their workers more comfortable and fatter wages so that they can help themselves and others.

What they’re doing is producing higher end products for those who can afford such items and garments, so much so that if they are artisans they should be paid a lot more than what they’re already getting. Maybe change is on its way, but there are some brands that are stuck in their bad ways so they need to be called out. If fast fashion is infamous for exploiting labourers, luxury fashion and others should do much better as they provide higher quality products.

Maybe some do to an extent, there are such things as ethical and sustainable fashion brands especially in the world of slow fashion. Slow fashion being the opposite of fast fashion as it doesn’t chase trends that much and makes garments more slowly and sustainably, though luxury fashion can and do just that well to some extent. I honestly think the case with luxury fashion is far more embarrassing as it should do much better than what fast fashion does.

The fact that luxury fashion relies on artisanal work and trade means they should give much higher wages to those who toil away at their products, some of it being made elsewhere like say India or done using immigrant workers from China. There are even studies about the latter, which means exploited labour still occurs even among those at the upper echelons of fashion. There are probably luxury brands who do change their ways for the better, well I’m not sure about this.

There are those who remain stuck in their bad ways, especially when it comes to exploiting labour be it from migrant workers or those in other countries like India for instance. But they should do better than fast fashion brands because they can do it. It wouldn’t be easy at first, but necessary given what their employees are doing is to provide high end products.

What a businessperson really is like

When it comes to businesspeople, there’s a tendency to stereotype them as rich. Yes a good number of well-known businesspeople are rich, rich enough to buy luxurious items even if not all of them do so. The surprising thing is that small and medium sized businesses/enterprises outnumber the larger ones in most national economies, so the average businessperson isn’t going to be that rich. Well, not all of them are that poor either and many more of them are practically middle class.

That’s enough to sustain and support themselves given the bare minimum needed to start a very successful business, speaking from personal experience I have sold a lot of face masks for 20 pesos. That’s enough to buy myself some magazines, so to speak and I’m planning on selling and making clothes to earn more money. It’s not that easy selling stuff, especially if it’s something that you might lose at any time (this has happened to me once). Not to mention increased competition from other businesses.

Back to the stereotype of the businessperson as rich, I think most people have no idea what it’s like to run a business since it’s not always easy to earn money from selling something. Especially when you not only have a lot of competition but also face losing your job and resources (I know this from experience), that it shouldn’t be surprising there’s a reason why most businesses are either small or medium sized in scope. Some businesses are even smaller still, hence the word micro enterprise.

I may not be rich enough, but I will make enough money from selling clothes to support myself and I think that’s true for anybody working in smaller enterprises where they do this to support themselves and their families as well. I may not speak for all people working in small and medium enterprises, but I am speaking from personal experience selling stuff nearly two years ago. It’s not easy making and selling stuff, especially if you lose those resources.

But once I get back to selling something, that’s when I’ll earn money again and I’ll give you more insight on what’s like to run a small business. Not to mention when it comes to selling stuff, as I learnt, it’s not always about deliberately selling stuff to people but rather allowing the customer their own choices to something they like. This is what I learnt from my aunt who told me this, so I decided to consider selling stuff online to allow people to decide for themselves. Again it’s not easy setting up a business, much less in ways you’re not familiar with.

That’s why setting up a business will not come easy, whether if it’s something you will lose or if it’s a new way of selling things it will not be easy.

Making something

To be honest, I do want money. I need to sell something to support myself and I have plans of selling something expensive to give myself a lot of money, so I do have thoughts of having a lot of money myself. Nonetheless, I feel the poor also want something special themselves. So it would be nice if I were to give them something, be it a nice gown or a nice blouse. If the rich can have nice things, so do the poor. I might have to sacrifice my desire to have a lot of money for myself to give them something, I have to realise since I want something for free it’s only fair to give them something for free as well.

Yes, I have my hesitations as I want to make a lot of money for myself. But to compromise, I would make something for free once I’m financially stable enough to support myself that I can afford to give special presents to people. I’m not there yet, but I will have to get there once I have enough money to support myself and then others. For the time being, I have to learn to make a dress before I can make a dress as well as a blouse to sell them to other people. I may not be good enough at something yet, but I do have some prior sewing experience to know how to make one myself.

I do have experience in selling something before, mostly with facemasks as I sold them for 20 pesos each. One of my relatives suggested I should’ve sold them for 50 pesos, given the effort I make in creating them. I actually have plans of making and selling blouses for 260 pesos, since that would give me more money than with facemasks, which I sold for 20 pesos. I could and actually want to sell dresses for 460 pesos, which would give me even more money but if I earned 1000 pesos I would have to spend it on more fabrics to sell and a handful to keep. Perhaps some as gifts to give away.

There are probably going to be things where I’d keep for myself and/or somebody else, so I have my priorities where I’d sell some outfits, ones to keep myself and some to give away to others. I may not be there yet, but I will do anything to work and support myself when I can. I’ve just made a pattern for a dress, but I need chalk to fulfill my vision. This is just the beginning for me making a dress, but I could hit big with selling and making dresses in the future. This is wish fulfillment at best, but that’s the best I can do for my situation.

History of ready to wear

Ready to wear clothing may have existed since time immemorial in that there weren’t a lot of form-fitting garments at some point or another, though there was room for bespoke clothing for certain people in the past as well. Some of the earliest forms of ready-to-wear clothing as an industry existed in the 16th to 19th centuries called the slop shop where you have ready made clothing made on the cheap for customers.

While it’s possible to do handmade ready to wear clothing since that was the norm in the past prior to sewing machines, the latter has made it possible to get it done more quickly and urgently to better meet customer demands. As with the slop shop, there were already stores and cottage industries where people made handmade ready to wear clothing but the sewing machine has changed that.

Especially when it comes to making more clothing in a shorter time period that made it easier to catch up with the latest styles, though there were seamstresses before who made it quicker by using multiple needles at once on a single garment (I’m projecting here but it’s possible some people this did before). Cottage industries and slop shops gave way to modern clothing brands as we know it like Levi.

Not to mention the rise of fast fashion brands such as Zara and Forever 21 that if it weren’t for the slop shop and sewing machine, we wouldn’t get fast fashion as we know it. For as long as there’s an industry, there’s a need to get things done to meet customer demands.

What I wanted to do

Back in 2014, one of the jobs that I wanted to do was to make soap. That’s to give myself something better to do so that I won’t always be on the computer, but my grandmother discouraged it so I turned to sewing and embroidery instead. My grandmother didn’t want me to make soap because you needed lye to make it, which would hurt the eyes. You could make soap without using lye and it can be done with the cold process method, which involves combining lye with oils and leaving the soap at room temperature in order to saponify.

But I’ve yet to learn how to cook and make soap myself, so sewing and dressmaking are the more accessible and viable options for me when it comes to selling what I made. I remember sewing a lot in 2009 but it didn’t take off big time until the mid-2010s when I started embroidering a lot and tend making my own skirts with the help of my father. I wouldn’t start selling them until 2020, which’s the time when I sold a lot of facemasks to my relatives for 20 pesos. I lost my job in the later months of 2020 and 2021 so I need to find work again to earn more money.

I still feel like I need to take a risk in order to have something much better to do and also to have something to earn from, which I needed to do to get back to work big time. As for sewing, I also need to diversify and improve on my sewing skills so that I can reduce the amount of fabric puckering when I sew as well as learning how to sew trousers/pants and dresses. I might as well need proper formal, albeit vocational education to learn how to sew dresses and trousers that I can sell for around 300 and 400 pesos given they require more yards/metres than a single blouse.

I tried making trousers before, but it’s not what my sister wanted them to made so I have to undergo vocational education to learn how to properly make trousers that I can sell for 400 pesos online (I need to do this so that I can earn more money this way). I have to sell stuff so that I can earn money to support myself and buy whatever I wanted, but I need to work two jobs to earn more money and fund the resources needed for my dressmaking and business.

It wouldn’t be easy but I need to start sewing and selling again so that I can earn money to buy whatever I wanted and needed, I need to have extra income so having two jobs is necessary for me to fund the resources needed for my business as I said before. It’s not easy selling stuff, especially if you have competition that you have to compete with other businesses to get the customer’s attention. I even need money to start a business, though with somebody’s help as I’ve just started and I am not that financially stable and well-off enough yet.

Soap making may not be a viable option for me to do, given how risky it is to the eyes that I need special glasses for that to make soap with so dressmaking and sewing are the safer, more viable options to do. Even then, you need to have some risk taking in order to expand your business and your sewing skills to take on new things likes dresses, shorts and long trousers in addition to the relatively easy to make blouses. It wouldn’t be easy making something new, but it is worthwhile when it comes to expanding your business and having something else to do and make.

Especially if you’re willing to expand your business to encompass different items to sell, Bench (a Philippine clothing brand) went from selling T-shirts in malls to selling trousers, underwear, colognes, skirts, dresses and shorts. So it does give me inspiration to not only start my business, but also to expand my business to sell different kinds of clothing like trousers and shorts. Not an easy route, that’s if your skills in making trousers and shorts aren’t that great yet but necessary if you want to sell more stuff as well as learning how not to pucker while sewing.

As for soap making, it wouldn’t be easy either and it’s the riskier of the two as that involves working with something that would irritate the eyes but I do think I’d like to take a risk to sell soap alongside clothing to have some extra income. But then again soap making’s a little too risky to do, so my second job would have to be cartooning to support my career in dressmaking when it comes to buying the resources needed for one’s business.

My life as and desire to become an entrepreneur

I admit to being jobless for a long time that it’s only in 2020 that I started earning money from selling facemasks, ebooks and skirts to my relatives and one unrelated person (enough to buy a National Geographic) and I ended up becoming jobless again the following year. Maybe this year, I’ll get back to working and selling stuff again so that I can buy what I want and earn as much money to support myself. As early as 2014, I considered selling and making soap but my relatives weren’t that supportive so six years later I had more luck selling facemasks instead.

That started sometime in July when my aunt taught me how to make one, which gave me the idea of selling one to people I know best. I sold nearly every facemask for 20 pesos, which gave me enough money to buy a magazine months later. I even sold a skirt to one of my sisters and tried selling skirts to my aunts, maybe this time around I’ll be luckier. I still remember the times when I sold facemasks to my relatives, which lasted for some months along with selling ebooks. I sold them for 20 pesos each but my other aunt told me to sell them for 50 pesos, which wouldn’t just earn me more money this way but also is based on what I make takes a lot of time to do.

I may not become a millionaire over night, but I really need to work and earn again so that I could have something better to do. I started earning a lot more in 2020 than I did in 2011, mostly from selling facemasks and that I need to diversify what I’m selling so that I can earn more money this way. I might as well start selling blouses, dresses, trousers/pants, skirts and soap to do something new, sell something new and make money in different ways. Again, I will not become a millionaire but I will make a lot of money from selling something new and different.

I need to have a bigger budget to make more blouses and skirts, that’s if they’re made out of cotton though that’s the stuff that would earn me a lot of money if I sell those. Not to mention, I need to get better at sewing so that the fabric doesn’t pucker up and that I’ll sell them to more people if they have smoother seams. I have to get better at something so that I can sell a better product to many more people, so more tight seams this time.

I’m not there yet, but I have a lot of time to improve on my sewing and selling. I also have to expand my business to selling soap, which’s something I long intended to do almost 8 years ago. So there’s room for improvement, innovation and interest in here.

The world of fast fashion

Fast fashion is all about getting the latest fashion trends on the go and cheaply, even if it’s at the expense of both the environment and the people who work on those garments. The origins of fast fashion lies in the mechanisation of fashion, that’s when it started getting manufactured more quickly (there were people who were weaving by day a lot back then and that would’ve taken them hours to finish). Likewise, it would’ve taken somebody several hours to finish a dress by hand, so the appearance of sewing machines hastened it.

The earliest fast fashion brand to make it would be H&M, when it was Hennes (hers in Swedish). It was an ordinary clothing store that became a retailer when the founders began franchising it more aggressively and when they bought one hunting store to merge it with Hennes to form Hennes och Mauritz (Mauritz Widforss is still around for hunters and outdoors people). The second one to appear, as far as I know about it, would be Biba when it was selling trendy clothes for young people to wear.

The third one to appear is Spain’s Zara, which revolutionised the way clothing was manufactured. It would take them a few days to get a garment manufactured to be up to date with the latest trends as opposed to waiting for weeks for most clothing brands, in fact according to some writers there was a time when it was common for people to sew their own clothing by using patterns that magazines would churn out. It still exists to some extent these days, but when fast fashion arrived it made it possible to get the latest trends without making it oneself.

Shein’s one of the latest fast fashion brands to appear, starting out as an online wedding dress store before moving to fast fashion. It takes them less than a week or fewer days to finish and make a garment, mass manufacture it with many sewers and hit the stores soon enough. It’s popular with young people these days, though there are possibly those who complain about the quality being compromised. When it comes to fast fashion, the main takeaway’s to get the latest trends as quickly and cheaply as possible even if it hurts the garment’s quality.

Not all fast fashion garments are this badly made, but a good number of them risk being so considering the way they’re manufactured. If haute couture garments take a longer time to finish, fast fashion’s the opposite as it involves hastening the process with most regular ready to wear clothing brands being somewhere in the middle. Not to mention the amount of pollution fast fashion contributes and from my experience making garments and facemasks, fashion is wasteful though it’s possible to recycle the leftovers.

Fast fashion involves getting the process done as quickly as possible, sometimes so cheap that you need to take shortcuts to get it done quicker. Slow fashion’s the opposite as it involves taking one’s time to manufacture the garments, often by hand and sometimes with machines. Slow fashion’s a response to fast fashion’s wastefulness and urgency, there are some slow fashion brands out there and they don’t mass manufacture a lot of garments the way fast fashion and most clothing brands do.

(Actually slow fashion brands have more in common with local sewing businesses because both don’t produce a lot of garments and take their time making them.)

Fast fashion revolutionised the way garments are made, starting with hastening the process through new technologies such as weaving looms and sewing machines. For a long time, slow fashion was the dominant mode of making things as everything had to be done by hand (both weaving and sewing). These days, sewing and weaving by hand are optional though they do coexist with machines. But fast fashion has changed the way we approach dressmaking and the business of selling clothes.

Why many geek brands are cult brands

Cult brands are brands that inspire a lot of devotion and sense of ownership among some people, sometimes so fervent and passionate that they spread word about the brand to other people and feel like they own the brand. A good example would be DC Comics, which’s practically a cult brand under this definition since many people feel entitled to own this brand and that it inspires cultish devotion from longtime readers. Another good one would be Marvel Comics, which make sense that both of them don’t have that many casual readers (statistically speaking, most people don’t read comics that regularly and an even smaller number of people read comics regularly).

Another good example of a geek brand that’s a cult brand would be Warhammer 40k, a tabletop game where players play out a grim future where most of technology’s banned and is replaced by those with superpowers (the premise itself’s based on Dune, a best-selling novel series). As with DC and Marvel, many players feel entitled to the brand fending it off from would be interlopers whom some derogatorily deem to be social justice warriors (liberals and feminists). The devotion the brands inspire can be almost religious since it starts off with a strong affiliation with the brands in question, then developing a sense of togetherness and finally a well-formed population.

Many geek brands are cult brands but not all cult brands are geek brands, since Harley Davidson appeals a lot to bikers many of whom aren’t geeks. But it does make sense to categorise the near majority of geek brands as cult brands as they inspire a lot of slavish devotion to the product and brand that it becomes mutual when reciprocated. Brand loyalty can exist outside of geek culture but brand loyalty is central to many geek fandoms, which revolve around brands that may not have mass appeal save for others like Star Wars but even then it’s a cult brand to an extent that fans feel very entitled to it.

Again, a near-majority of geek brands are cult brands because they inspire a lot of devotion and brand loyalty by a select population that it becomes nearly and practically inseparable. It’s even encouraged by those companies that cater to these characters, they know what these customers are like and they pander to them a lot. That’s not to say DC and Marvel can’t appeal to anybody else who aren’t big geeks, they do when it comes to some comics as well as toys, some programmes and movies. But when some of their other programmes don’t have high ratings, that’s when they’re practically cult brands.

Cult brands aren’t just comic book brands, toy brands, gaming brands (both digital and analogue) and book brands like Harry Potter they can also be films and television programmes such as Invader Zim and The Flash. They inspire cultish devotion from a select audience that they cater to a lot, they identify this customer and develop a relationship with them. The Flash’s ratings aren’t as high as that of The Voice and Good Morning America but it does have a devoted audience that dedicate themselves to it and the ancillary merchandise. Now that’s a cult brand in the making.

It’s true not all cult brands are geek brands but many geek brands are cult brands in that they not only inspire brand loyalty but also chase after a certain customer and population that they mutually depend on. The Flash is more dependent on its core fans than say The Voice and Good Morning America ever will, something like Warhammer 40k is a cult brand while something like Garfield and Peanuts enjoy mass popularity. That’s not to say geeks can’t like Peanuts and Garfield, they do but when it comes to geek brands most of them don’t have the same mass popularity as say Peanuts and Garfield enjoy.

If very few people regularly read comics, then there’s a strong chance that DC and Marvel have identified their customers and end up pandering a lot to them. These customers feel very entitled to the brands they love and some go on working for those brands, thus ensuring a strong devotion like an umbilical cord is to a child. This is the cult-like devotion that other mass market brands lack, though that’s not to say they’re devoid of brand loyalty but brand loyalty’s always expected when it comes to cult brands and their customers.

Haute couture and categories of fashion

High sewing in French, also known as alta moda or high fashion in Italian. It’s a French term protected by law and only a handful of fashion brands are deemed as haute couture, that’s if they meet a certain set of standards. Haute couture is the creation of handmade custom-fitted garments, they are done using time-consuming techniques so there’s a lot of attention paid to detail and quality. The brands deemed as haute couture include Maison Margiela, Schiaparelli, Chanel and Dior.

Outside of the official haute couture brands, you can see similar high fashion clothing in the form of local clothing boutiques as done by seamstresses and tailors who aren’t part of fashion conglomerates like Kerring and LVMH. But the exact opposite of haute couture is arguably fast fashion in that these clothes are made cheaply and quickly, aren’t custom-fitted and don’t take a lot of time of finish. The likes of Shein, H&M, Zara and Forever 21 fall into this category.

Haute couture as well as any custom-made clothing made by tailors and seamstresses tend to make clothing for clients who want them the way they wanted to wear and appear, sometimes they can get very expensive to make based on the quality of materials being used as well as the amount of time invested in making these garments. They can even take a few days to finish, though that’s me extrapolating and guessing since I have experience making my own clothes myself.

It’s longer if made by hand, hence why a single dress shirt back in the 18th century would take 10 hours to finish though I could be writing this from memory as it could be either slightly longer or shorter than what I actually recall. I’ve made blouses by hand that take a few hours or more to finish, but then these are simple garments to make and not as elaborate as other garments are. Haute couture garments, being handmade, would take a long time to finish though it does depend on the simplicity of the garment itself which can take less than that.

But it’s a safe bet that some haute couture garments are really elaborate and thus take a long time to finish, considering how they’re sewn requires a lot of details to make and do in a span of a few days at the very least. Maybe there’s a reason why haute couture garments are so exclusive, even if they can get bought by those who’re middle class and upper-middle class at the very least. (I could say the same things about seamstresses and tailors who aren’t affiliated with any haute couture brands at that.)

Then again, haute couture brands have the more accessible ready to wear lines for people who could afford their garments and tending to be standard size. Ready to wear being the more accessible part or line of any haute couture brand, though any ready to wear brand can exist independently of haute couture as with the likes of Guess and Giordano. They are made with different techniques to keep costs low and also to get them done on the go. They’re the middle ground between haute couture and fast fashion.

Especially if they’re higher-priced at that so it’s a semi-luxury for those who can afford it but also affordable enough to be accessible to more people. To summarise, haute couture and bespoke tailoring make up the higher end of the fashion industry where they make custom-fit clothing for those who can afford it. Most ready to wear clothing lines are in the middle as they’re standard size but some are expensive enough to still be exclusive to some extent with fast fashion being the most affordable and accessible in the fashion industry due to its high volume and low quality.

What the masses want

I still think it bears repeating that what the masses want isn’t always what fanboys want, especially when it comes to the things they’re into in comics if at all as well as the entertainment they consume matters when it comes to pandering to them at all. The masses aren’t interested in fanboy pandering that much, so Easter eggs, esoteric references and fan pandering won’t appeal to them much. These means fan pandering only reaches out to a minority of the audience, they could be substantial in number but pale in comparison to the masses.

In terms of the characters they want and relate to, it’s not always the blatant nerd/fanboy surrogate that interests them but rather everyman/everyday characters they can relate to and count on such as Cathy Guisewite’s Cathy and Charles Schulz’s Charlie Brown. To put it this way, it’s not that nerd characters can’t appeal to them at all but they still have to be relatable to the masses in order to be appealing to them. Most fanboy/nerd characters aren’t that appealing to the masses, even if they’re well-received by nerds they’re not always characters normal people like and relate to.

Or at least characters most people don’t always aspire to, witness the difference in reception between The Big Bang Theory (nerd characters but unappealing to actual nerds despite its popularity with a lot of people and having some nerdy fans itself) and Freaks and Geeks. The latter appeals to nerds a lot but struggles with appealing to a mass audience, the former appeals to normal people a lot despite not being well-received by nerds. A middle ground is always possible but the key here is to make characters still relatable to the masses.

So Kitty Pryde wouldn’t appeal to most people the same way Cathy does, evident by the fact that what Cathy goes through is very much what most people go through and that Cathy doesn’t have a pet dragon. Which means that Cathy is a proper everywoman character in a way Kitty Pryde isn’t and will never be; most people don’t have reptiles as pets and most people don’t regularly read comics so the number of people who have pet reptiles and read comics regularly would be very small at that.

To put it this way, there aren’t a lot of people who’re both hackers and ninjas in the same way you have people who’re part time seamstresses, nurses and teachers (jobs most people are into). Only a fool would think otherwise, because they spend too much time living under rocks to fail to realise what most people are really into. Most people aren’t into John Coltrane, so they gravitate to Nat King Cole more. Likewise more people gravitate to Jim Davis than they do with Jack Kirby, the latter who’s a very cult cartoonist at that.

It’s a matter of realising what most people are into, which can differ from what you and your peers are into. Those who do business know this well, if because pandering to a wider audience gives them a greater amount of sales than if they pander to a cult following even if cult brands exist anyways they only survive from the love and devotion they get from a cult following. Supreme has a cult following, Giordano doesn’t. It should be clear which brand has the bigger following between the two.

So the same difference extends to comics where the likes of Tim Drake and Kitty Pryde appeal to a cult audience but mass audiences gravitate towards For Better or Worse, Cathy, Peanuts and Garfield instead. This should be a no-brainer when it comes to the kinds of comics that attract a bigger readership, especially if these are highly accessible both narratively and practically so. While not all newspaper strips become big hits, they’re still much likelier to be read by a bigger audience than say the average superhero pamphlet is.

Likewise, Scholastic will not always produce a lot of best-sellers but their comics are more accessible by the virtue of being found in regular bookstores and grocery stores than you do with DC and Marvel (from my personal experience, they’re also more expensive as well). It would be Occam’s razor to say that bestselling graphic novels and newspaper comic strips constitute the mainstream of comics whereas the average superhero pamphlet’s practically a cult product that mostly appeals to a rarefied audience.

Most superhero comics don’t sell that well and those that do tend to sell in the hundreds of thousands, with the odd graphic novel selling for almost a million or more. The fact that children’s comics sells well should give an idea of what the masses are into and why DC and Marvel are beginning to cater to this audience. This is why understanding what most people are into matters, because that involves realising and understanding what they want, need and like.

Without that, it would lead to poor business decisions when it comes to trying to expand the audience and readership at all.