We’ve definitely seen an expansion of small fashion brands in the last 10 years. A lot more people have rediscovered the art of sewing while others enjoy looking for styles that they don't see on the high street. But buying from small businesses is more than that.
1. A different choice of prints compared to high street shops.
What I love in making my products is working with talented pattern designers and working on my own repeat patterns (Confetti Rain and Icarus are two of those). Liberty is a famous company but there are many more just as talented who produce high quality fabrics and work with excellent creatives. They allow us to create clothes and accessories with beautiful fabrics and bring their own universes to our collections. And another thing is sure: you won’t find the same ones in large shops.
2. When you need something custom-made.
Have a very tall child or a chubby baby? Well going custom-made is a great option if you want to make sure that you don’t end up with trousers that are too long but just wide enough, or the opposite. Small businesses tend to be more approachable so you have better chances of getting one of their products made to special size requirements, without the extra price tag.
3. You know who’s making it and where the materials come from.
This is by far the most important factor of all. Although big brands are working hard on making their products fairer and more sustainable (H&M and Zara amongst others), I still find it hard to buy cheap clothes when I don't know in which conditions they were created. I have this fear of wearing something that a child has had to make. This doesn’t mean that the clothes aren’t high quality, I believe that as long as a company pays for what it’s worth then you'll get the relevant quality. But adding to that the shipping of all finished products in so many countries in the world, well it’s just as bad as buying food coming from the other side of the Earth.
4. Yes to slow fashion!
We live in a culture of immediate satisfaction. We want things there and then, order today and delivered today. I admit, I plead guilty to occasionally clicking the next day delivery button. But when I was a child, there was no Amazon, eBay or internet shopping at all.
Let me tell you a little story about me as a fan. I had a few years of being ‘in love’ with Ewan McGregor. I mean, I still love him now but I’ve grown enough to realise some things won’t happen, lol. So when Moulin Rouge came out, I wanted to watch all the films he’d played in. I went to all the film rental shops in my town and found a couple of them (I was 13 at the time and I don’t think I was old enough for Trainspotting but well…). So then I went to a media shop selling DVDs and asked about other films. I remember that they could find A perfect and Trader. I had to wait over a month before they received them and I didn't question the wait or ask somewhere else. There was no 'somewhere else then'. But even then, I couldn’t afford both DVDs on my teenager pocket money. So I had to choose which one to have now and which to have for Christmas (another two months to wait!).
I’m not saying that it was easy for me, but it taught me patience and the importance of waiting for things that we really want as it also builds desire for it and increased the chances of keeping them longer. I believe that it also applies to fashion. It’s a lot easier to get bored of clothes if you can swap them so fast. A lot of small businesses will take 2 weeks to deliver an order. It's not just a number, it's what manageable for a small team. So instead of complaining about waiting, we should embrace the fact that we are on a waiting list of lucky people getting their order made just for them.
5. You know where your money is going.
Last but not least, when you buy from a small business, you pay the people behind the brand and the production of every products. This is the money that allows me to pay for my mortgage, child care, food and other necessities. It’s also money that can be invested to work on new collections, testing products and looking for ways to improve them. When a brand is successful, this money will also allow us to employ people that will bring something more to the business. So really, everyone wins. It’s living on a small scale but making difference that impacts on all the lives involved.
All in all, a big thank you if you are one of these people who trust small businesses and to those who are thinking about making a change.
And if you think that I've missed something important, why not tell us in comments?