Why made-to-order fashion is worth your time.
November 15, 2022
The meaning of luxury is changing fast in a world where consumers are becoming more conscious of their decisions, making sustainability an important consideration as the effects of global warming and related environmental crises become evident. Fashion is known to be one of the biggest contributors to global warming. According to a United Nations report published in 2018, the industry was responsible for 8 - 10% of global greenhouse gas emissions that year—more than aviation and shipping combined. The popularity of ultra-fast fashion brands plays an outsize role in the industry’s contribution to the crisis with waste being central to this. As ethical practices become more and more important to consumers, the idea of slow luxury holds a lot of appeal.
Slow luxury suggests a cognizance of materials, craft and traceability, making made-to-order an obvious alternative to fast-fashion. In this regard, African luxury brands who have adopted the slow fashion approach—as a result of having to innovate due to a lack of resources, and a desire to preserve craft traditions—are leading the way with luxury that is absolutely worth the wait. Here are a few reasons why made-to-order fashion is worth both your time and hard earned money. Shop the full collection of looks (and more) here.
Investing in quality pieces
There are a few key ways of figuring out what makes a great investment piece. The process can be very personal, as only you know what constitutes an investment for you. Whatever the case may be, there’s no doubt that this includes the highest standards in both design and production; the consideration of materials and pieces that are made with longevity in mind—the very antithesis of fast-fashion.
When you make a made-to-order purchase you can seek out classic silhouettes and trans-seasonal pieces, such as UNI FORM’s Flap Shirt which elevates the classic white shirt by adding an unexpected twist. Made-to-order garments are also made to your size requirements, ensuring that your clothes fit. Utilizing the classic waistcoat silhouette, Orange Culture’s Two-Tone Waistcoat dress, has an adjustable belt—an additional element that ensures tailoring to your size.
Even clothing from fast fashion brands requires human labor, although there is a vast difference in the treatment of garment workers. With made-to-order, artisans are given the time they need to create a garment. When you purchase from brands that have a conscious mindset, there is more transparency, and therefore traceability. IAMISIGO, for one, values the work of the artisans they collaborate with to create their one-of-a-kind pieces, preserving old traditional techniques. Their Loop Weave Slit-Side Dress and Loop Weave Pants are examples of this. It takes about 9 to 10 days to complete a yard of fabric. By investing in their pieces you are also investing in the continent’s textile and apparel industry that has largely been damaged by the secondhand market and the exporting of jobs abroad for cheaper labor.
Moving back toward natural fibers that are biodegradable is one of the ways to reduce plastic consumption, studies have shown that clothing made from synthetics has contributed to microfibres entering water systems, damaging marine ecosystems. However, choosing natural fibers is not the only way to put sustainable fashion ethea into practice.
Viviers, Twyg Sustainable Fashion Awards finalist of 2022, creates pieces with high quality fabrics prioritizing the reduction of textile waste by hand-cutting each garment and reusing luxurious found fabrics in many of their designs. Viviers illustrates the richness of silk with their Cobalt Utility Dress. Silk is a renewable and biodegradable resource, and uses less water, chemicals, and energy than most other fibers.
Less is More
Due to overproduction, clothing that is not bought from large retail chains—and even some reputable luxury brands—gets donated or sold into the secondhand markets in the global South. Due to the sheer volume of clothes, the majority of it lands up in landfills like Kpone in Ghana. Purchasing made-to-order garments puts two slow fashion principles into practice: for the brand, it helps ensure that they do not overproduce garments. In some cases, the process of creating the fabric takes time, such as Fruché's use of hand-dyed Adire cloth for the Efik Shirt Dress. As customers, it allows us to practice delayed gratification. Knowing that you're buying a garment that'll take weeks to arrive at your doorstep helps with discernment. Is it an impulsive purchase or a piece that will be an essential part of our closet? The Joy Summer Dress by LISA FOLAWIYO speaks to the joy garments are meant to bring into our lives. Inspired by the traditional Akwete technique this eclectic wool dress could brighten up even the gloomiest of days.
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