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History of Fashion: A Look into Sewing and the Fast Fashion Industry

The world of fashion is as vast as it is intricate. For many average consumers, fashion remains nothing more than the coming and going of clothing or style trends that they couldn’t be bothered to keep up with. But for the select few, fashion is considered the epitome of self-expression and individuality.

Most enthusiasts use fashion to express their personalities, interests, or worldviews, supporting fashion brands free of political and socioeconomic issues. It could also be that fashion is used to physically manifest emotions and feelings that are often left unsaid.

From this alone, you can gather that the fashion industry will always be in demand, just like it has been for thousands of centuries. That’s why it’s a smart move to join in on the bandwagon and see if you can make it in the fashion industry, too, in the same way household names did before they hit the limelight.

But before you try your hand in the world of fashion, it would be wise to do your homework first about how it came to be. After all, people have been making their own clothes since the Stone Age, where they used bones and ivory needles to create fur or leather garments. Plus, they used animal veins and sinews as their makeshift thread to attach these pieces of clothing.

How It All Began

Fashion has come a long way since the Stone Age. But it wasn’t until the invention of the sewing machine during the Industrial Revolution, when people learned how to mass-produce clothing for commercial purposes. So up until that time, all clothes were sewn by threading a needle and putting busy hands to work.

In the same manner that workers today are fearing for their jobs because automated robots are taking over the factories, the tailors revolted against the invention of sewing machines. However, progress and innovation are inevitable even in the fashion industry. And soon, they realized that these machines could help them produce clothing faster and more efficiently.

Sewing became the foundation on which the fashion industry was built, and it only continues to progress further. Since then, traditional processes such as patternmaking, embroidery, and freehand fashion design have made clothing more than a means to protect the body from the elements. It is also an opportunity to express one’s personal style.

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The Introduction of Patternmaking

Since clothing, textile, and garment production have become more commercialized, the need to create and recreate accurately measured end products was a no-brainer. This paved the way for the introduction of patternmaking, which is basically creating templates that allowed garments to be manufactured using the same measurements.

The four leading companies in commercial patternmaking are McCalls, Butterick, Simplicity, and Vogue, which are all renowned names in the industry. These patterns offered sewers and hobbyists the opportunity to create their own clothing at home as a way to pass the time or relieve their stress.

So, for instance, if you wanted to recreate a specific design, you could buy Butterick designer sewing patterns to get the exact measurements and fabric requirements to achieve your goal. This goes the same for all the other commercial and indie pattern companies that exist to date.

Fast Fashion in the Digital Age

As mentioned earlier, the demand for ready-made clothing and fashionable pieces has only been on a steady climb. This created what is known as the fast fashion industry, which refers to the culture of mass-producing clothing designs that have debuted on the catwalks and onto the global retail stores that sell them.

Fast fashion gives mainstream consumers the chance to enjoy new and trendy pieces in the fashion scene at a much more affordable price. But the downside of fast fashion is that the low prices often come at the cost of less durable clothing and underpaid workers in developing countries.

That’s why fast fashion is often considered an unsustainable practice that can lead to more pollution and waste, especially because the cheaper manufacturing costs can mean that the clothes are poorly made. Therefore, it can proliferate the consumer mentality that clothes are “disposable” and that they can simply buy again once they get rid of the damaged goods.

It doesn’t help that online shopping is so easy to do in the digital age. Most modern-day consumers have leaned on eCommerce platforms to buy what they need because it’s more convenient and less time-consuming than having to go to stores physically. Moreover, all their orders can be delivered right to their doors.

But despite these, the fashion industry itself shouldn’t be seen as a villain in the story. After all, fashion offers people from all walks of life to express themselves through their clothing. So the burden will fall on the shoulders of fashion brands to take up more sustainable practices and on the consumers who support them.

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