I was listening to the news this week and heard about Asos who seem to be in trouble, along with many more companies who deal in fast fashion. It made me start thinking of my ‘younger’ days, ok in the dark ages then, and what we used to have in the way of clothes.
I think there’s so much publicity about saving the planet and using resources that it’s making a lot of people think about what they are taking part in, to leave as an inheritance for future generations. Along with the huge awareness of plastics and how much damage they can do, people are a lot more aware of the impact of the clothes they buy too.
The Impact of Fast Fashion
At one time you wouldn’t have dreamed of wondering how much water a cotton shirt took to produce. Or whether your new jeans had been ethically made. Or would your new jumper contaminate waterways? Now, more and more of us are considering the impact of ‘fast fashion’ and it’s got to have an impact on the retailers.
For example in our house, we’ve stopped buying clothes at a rate of knots, as we don’t need anymore. Unless something fantastic pops up, so that’s a different matter of course. Other women will understand perfectly what I’m saying! Not only that if you kept buying and buying you would need a mansion to put everything in. So if other people are like us and cutting back on what they buy, for whatever reason, then the rag trade has got to suffer.
Fast Fashion and Slow Fashion
In the good old days when I was young, as you will have heard me droning on about, by and large unless you were born into a ‘well off’ family, most people did what my family did. We didn’t spend money that we didn’t have. Sounds an obvious thing to say. But think about it, people today do spend money that they don’t have. It’s called credit.
In our house for example, you got new clothes when the old ones wore out and not before. I have this photo of me in our garden when I was three and suffering from German measles. Going by the look on my face it wasn’t making me happy at all. The thing was, my mum told me that I was wearing my brothers cast off tweed coat – I didn’t get a choice.
Natural Fabrics and Itchy Socks
Back in those days, synthetics weren’t heard of so it was all natural fabrics by and large.
When I was at junior school I wore long woollen socks that itched like mad and were notorious for dropping down. So I had garters made out of elastic, worn under the knee with the top of the sock turned over to hide it. The trouble was, they just about cut my circulation off as they were so tight, and they made my legs itch even more. When I took my socks off there would be deep red marks on my legs where the elastic had cut into them. My, they were the days!
Repair, Reuse and Recycle
When our shoes started wearing out, my dad would get my mum to buy a piece of leather from Woolworths which he shaped on his last into the new sole for my shoes. I’ve still got his last –
The trouble was, my shoes now weighed a ton, then there were the Segs he put on the heel to make them last longer. I sounded like a clog or tap dancer when I walked. Take about embarrassed! I was so glad when they started to wear away!
I did however have a new dress for Christmas which was worn strictly for Christmas day and Boxing day and the Whit walk. Oh yes, always a new dress made of organza. and white suede shoes. I was always given the strict instruction not to move until my mum was ready, or else. The wrath if I scuffed my buckskin shoes. Then there was the ribbon which was always in my hair, fastened onto a hair slide. Just about every day I had a ribbon of different colours in my hair, and how I loved buying new ones and picking the patterns and colours. That was something else.
It’s not just my generation either, as Kevin had to undergo the torture of wearing cast offs. As he had a sister and older brother, he was last in line, (wasn’t he lucky) for cast offs from his siblings. He still cringes to this day about what he wore when he was growing up.
For example, he had to wear his sisters flowery pyjamas which I think scarred him for life, along with her tshirts etc. He wore hand me down trainers which originally were Dunlop Green Flash – apparently a very good brand. But when it came to Kevin’s turn, he had the toes cut out from them so they would fit him. He nearly died of embarrassment it seems and I don’t blame him. That was horrible for him as he got laughed at non stop, the poor lad. The moral of the story is, be born the eldest and then you get new stuff!
But back in those days clothes went through a cycle. They started out as clothes for ‘best’, to be worn on high days, holidays and rare trips out. Then they progressed to being what you wore ‘everyday’. Then they went for gardening, decorating and dirty jobs. And then, finally they might be cut up into rags. Cotton towels, knickers and underpants always ended up as floor cloths. Other garments might end up on the floor in a peggy rug.
My grandma made the most beautiful peggy rugs out of old clothes. This isn’t one of hers but it could have been. She’d got a great sense of colour and pattern. Amazing how something so nice can be made from old garments.
Then there were the buttons. Having worn your garment until it wasn’t fit to be seen, before it was dispatched into the dustbin the final rite of passage was to cut the buttons off it. Everyone had a button box! These are the buttons out of my old button box. Some of them came from my grandma, so they could be over 100 years old.
So Fast Fashion isn’t so wonderful
There is lots more to tell about how we bought and used clothes in ‘the olden days’ which makes us laugh now. But it just goes to show how times have changed with fast fashion today and ‘throwaway’ clothes (allegedly) such as Primark.
Well I’m sorry but I don’t wear something and throw it away, being of the generation who had little and remembers what it was like to have little. It would perhaps do some people good to think how lucky they are. They can just go out and have a splurge, which we never could, and many people today still can’t.
While you’re here…
See the homepage of the Visit Fylde Coast website for more of the latest updates.
Love the Fylde Coast? Sign up for your weekly email newsletter. Packed full of interesting things it arrives in your inbox all 52 weeks of the year.