I was in NYC in early February to attend
an expo of fabric and notions suppliers. I spent many hours paging through fabric swatch cards from many different companies. There were a few companies offering organic and recycled fabric, and even a tiny amount of hemp and bamboo, which was pleasantly surprising. I am a thorough decision-maker, so my initial round of selections were plentiful. Most of the swatches have arrived now, so I am starting to think about fall designs and new additions to my line. All of the fabrics are beautiful, and seeing them again in my own studio has already clarified some things and reduced some of the agonized decision-making that will take place over the next few weeks.
On a related note, while at the expo, I came into contact with many people who plan to operate their small fashion businesses following the larger-scale, fast-fashion model of breaking down each stage of the process of designing and producing clothing into separate jobs handled by many different people. More copies of a particular line or design are able to be produced in a smaller amount of time with this method---this reduces the amount of profit needed to be made on each garment, reducing the price. This has become the norm, and the expected. Distilling the work of designing and making clothing into distinct processes, and then being involved in only a portion of those processes, is a very different activity from the "slow design" that I practice. Sharing an atmosphere with the people and industry practicing fast fashion further solidified my grounding in the hand designed and drafted, handmade, custom-fit, limited-edition, thoughtfully designed world in which I'm operating now as five8ths. The ground seems firmer and stronger here.