Today I had a customer at my shop tell me they loved the clothes, but it was just too expensive. This was for a $79 hand embroidered tunic that would have taken at least 40+ hours to embroider. In the modern age this work could be done by machine and sold for $40 (which would make me more profit than the hand embroidered version). But in my opinion producing such a garment is perhaps, although still beautiful, it's lacking something, something that gives the owner the pleasure of wearing art and culture.
The pleasure derived from an artisan made garment comes from three elements: - the textile must be made responsibly, sustainably and with soul. By that I mean, the fabric is environmentally sound, there has been no human or animal violation (physical or pollutant) and finally it was crafted by an artisan. There is something delightful in knowing you are wearing an example of human excellence, that you are contributing to preserving a dying skill that has been passed down for generations. That is why our range 'Awear...social re- design' and the labels of those that I support are organic, hand block printed, hand loomed and/or hand embroidered. Yes, this does make the garments more expensive, because it is more labour intensive. But that is the value !!! – The human value, the cultural value... Its the the soul of the piece.
To illustrate think of the handwoven fabric, that takes technique and skill, then that of a mill that uses automation with a factory floor filled with machines making the same thing but 20 times faster with ease.
If a designer was to think efficiency and economies of scale, they would pick the mill. The designer who wants their clothing to have soul will pick artisan produced, ethical and eco.
Thankfully there are people who want clothes with soul, because without them, the fashion industry would be filled with clothing that is after making savings, where the product is automated, exploitative and culturally void.
PS Here are some articles if you want to know more about the fabric textile industry:
Professor R.S. Balakumar, Handloom Industry in India: Facing Challenges in Recent Time, 2017 http://textilelearner.blogspot.com.au/2017/04/handloom-industry-india.html
Leon J. Warshaw , THE TEXTILE INDUSTRY: HISTORY AND HEALTH AND SAFETY, Chapter 89 - Textile Goods Industry, http://www.ilocis.org/documents/chpt89e.htm