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Heritage Clothing: Will it last?

tylerjbritt

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Heritage clothing. You know what I mean"”browsing the forums, it is omnipresent. Workwear (Japanese included), Americana, anything ACL champions, Levis, Filson, Alden, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. Are these just part of a trend, or a change in the institution of fashion?

Biographic digression: I spent my late teens with a great interest in fashion. It was an escape from the singular ideology and dress code of my small hometown. With college came greater intellectual expansion and a growing distrust of the industry of fashion. I realized that fashion, like many other consumer products, was fueled by a need to promote seasonal trends, increase consumption, drive up profits, and in turn be more wasteful.

Over the past few years, I have been observing the rise of heritage clothing companies. Suddenly fashion had won me over again. I saw fashion companies that cared about what they were making (or in many cases"”have been caring for decades, some nearly centuries). They were making products that conformed only to standards of quality, not seasonal trends. Is heritage clothing going to be displaced by another trend approaching on the horizon, or will quality prevail?

Apologizes for coming in like and anthropologist and making this my first post. I am a frequent reader of the forum. Thoughtful responses would be appreciated!
 

jchosko

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I think a lot of the so-called "heritage clothing" may be of better construction quality than typical cutting-edge fashion has been in the past, because the construction has become a vital part of the fashion itself this time around.

I personally think, on the consumer side at least, it's part of a zeitgeist that tries to reconcile economic depression with increasing globalization, and an attendant felt-sense of a lack of control over the moral dimensions of the global manufacturing process. That said, on the manufacturing side, it is one hell of a way to sell expensive-ass shit in a recession by making people feel like they're going to wear "this pair of 21 oz 1940s-decomissioned-American-made-shuttle-loom-woven hand-dyed indigo selvedge denim with every seam chainstitched and 101% copper rivet, and so on..." forever, and that that makes spending $350 on a pair of jeans seem worth it over time. Yeah right...

It will be displaced in time as new trends come around--and this before it has even come close to meeting its natural expiration date, which as many of the manufacturers would have you believe is something around "a lifetime." What is to me silly about the whole heritage trend is that the people who are buying into it as a trend will not be wearing it past the next season or two anyway, so the whole paying for it now, "but it will last forever," line is really just being exploited to dupe consumers. If people really did buy the heritage stuff now, and never bought new clothes ever again, or only when the flannel shirt they just paid $300 for wears out, those very companies that make the stuff in the first place will have shot themselves in the foot, because they will cease to be profitable. The heritage/Made in USA (or Japan--a contradiction of the anti-globalization ethos that underwrites a part of the movement, but that is rarely commented on) is an understandable response to a crisis in capitalism, but it is not sustainable as a long-term response because it is still rooted in a fundamental pattern of fashion trends and general overconsumption. If one wants to pay $300 for a pair of jeans that is totally their prerogative, and I myself wear expensive-ass Japanese selvedge denim, but for the most part those who wear jeans by Left Field, Pure Blue Japan, Eternal, Dope and Drakkar, Iron Heart, etc., are people who follow fashion trends, and for them to spuriously justify it by claiming that they will last forever and they're the last pair of jeans they'll ever have to buy, while they may theoretically be correct, are fooling no one but themselves. If history does indeed repeat itself, the heritage trend will probably be followed by a disposable-clothing trend.
 

chasingred

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People who think heritage clothing is anything more than a fashion trend are seriously deluded. It's great that there is some attention to quality construction, but a lot of this is gimmicky. There are key buzzwords thrown around all the time - locally made, heritage, tradition, handmade, etc. Just because something is handmade doesn't make it good, and just because something is made in the US doesn't make it good.

For example, Allen Edmonds aren't handmade, and they're good shoes, but because of the goodyear welted construction. Oxxfords are handmade, and they're good suits, because of what handstitching can do for things like sleeve attachments. The problem is that people throwing around "quality construction" often have no idea how things are constructed or when humans vs. machines are better at doing X task. It's a really superficial relationship to quality, and often driven by gimmicky, concocted faux-nostalgia.

Plus, seriously - clothes are subject to entropy. You spill shit on your shoes - ink, oils, etc. You think quality construction is going to stop you from agonizing over blemished leathers or cloths? When that happens, you're going to buy new stuff.

I'd honestly be curious how many of these heritage geeks know the difference between blake stitched and goodyear welted shoes. You want to talk about things that will last - let's start there and drop the fashion gimmick.

And who really believes that you can get away with living in a city and looking like an urban lumberjack or miner in five years? Are you nuts? It's so beyond gimmicky and out of place that it's bordering on looking like a costume.
 

chasingred

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Originally Posted by jchosko
If one wants to pay $300 for a pair of jeans that is totally their prerogative, and I myself wear expensive-ass Japanese selvedge denim, but for the most part those who wear jeans by Left Field, Pure Blue Japan, Eternal, Dope and Drakkar, Iron Heart, etc., are people who follow fashion trends, and for them to spuriously justify it by claiming that they will last forever and they're the last pair of jeans they'll ever have to buy, while they may theoretically be correct, are fooling no one but themselves. If history does indeed repeat itself, the heritage trend will probably be followed by a disposable-clothing trend.

I couldn't agree more. If people want their clothes to last, they should visit the MC section where people actually talk about construction, as well as stick to styles that are much more timeless. Not that MC is without its trends, but it moves much more slowly than heritage/ stuff on SW&D.
 

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