At a time when the voice of climate change is sweeping the globe, we often focus our attention towards reducing our carbon footprint, monitoring our plastic consumption, recycling, buying organically grown food and living a more sustainable lifestyle. What we often overlook is the end to which we are willing to modify our consumption habits, when pursuing the said sustainable lifestyle. True, we are the first generation to feel the implications of climate change, caused by the capitalistic tendencies of the industrial revolution, but we are also the last generation, who can revolutionize the availability of resources to our future generations.
With the fashion industry, now being touted as one of the leading contributors to our ever increasing carbon footprints: we also need to make a directional shift in the mindfulness towards our consumption habits. The concept of sustainability encompasses three facets to it - economic, environmental and social; of which we have created much focus on the environmental and social aspects of it. But what of its economic encapsulations - one that stretches itself to provide a livelihood to all humankind. In the fashion industry, they are also known as traditional artisans who have handicraft and artisanal skills that cannot be rivaled by their automated counterparts.
Now, more than before, we need to recognize the actuality of integrating artisans, into global commerce and effectively extending them the resources. Whether they be in training to enhance their existing skills or the access to sale platforms pulling in a vast global audience, to accredit the notion of knowing who made our products. Such an effort embodies our mindset towards recognizing what brings together the world cultures and their remnants. It ensures that we continue to live on with the traditions of our past, innovating them with newer technologies.
Artisanal, handmade crafts, are the oldest tradition defining our culture and carrying it forward, should bring enhanced exposure to the artist and their skill, as opposed to its part replication in mass production. The intricacy of handwoven textiles, the delicate embroideries on fine silks, the craftsmanship of hand-sewing leather - are all skills, that have over time, been victimized by our technological advancements. Sure the accuracy of a machine is hard to beat by human hands, but the beauty in the individuality of each handmade product, lends even more to the luxury of its exclusivity.
Coming from the industrial revolution, a point when economies invested heavily into furthering their prowess, our ignorance towards creative economies, impressed a significant diversion from our earlier, more eco-conscious lifestyles. With little to no access to traditional financing, there isn’t a robust network, available for progression, and artisan entrepreneurs often end up resorting to their skills as hobbies, as opposed to passionately pursuing them as a means of sustainable livelihood.
The onslaught of fast-fashion has exponentially increased our needs and urges us to compete with the lifestyles of the more privileged continually. Fast-fashion has had an enormous effect on the profitability of handmade crafts, which were once a coveted skill across industries. Of course, some industries such as watchmaking, have gained immensely from the advance of technology, bringing more precision to the golden hands of an expert watchmaker. However, many others such as handwoven textiles, hand-sewn leathers, have taken a downfall, as the convenience of fulfilling mass demands, with ease and speed, has taken away from the luxury of a bespoke, handmade leather bag, by an artisan, using the skills passed down through generations.
The skills passed down the generations is an intangible cultural heritage that many take for granted. Consumers tend to forget that the hands that make these products are not a piece of machinery that has a substitute — it is human skill and craftsmanship at the very core. An original is far more worthy. Hence, to keep the inflow of the originals, questions need to be asked of who designed the product. Appreciation is imperative yet not enough. Acknowledgement is critical — acknowledging the skill, the expertise, and it is that which would lead to due recognition and deserved income.