Every inch of my silk scarves are hand painted by me. It’s obvious, I know, but that means like other artisans who craft all their own pieces, I can’t compete with mass-produced work. I’ve written several posts about my experiences of selling on Etsy and last May commented on the relationship between crafters and Etsy. More recently it has been reassuring for me to read that I am not out of step with many of my fellow artisans who like me have found that Etsy is no longer the platform for their work.
Interestingly, earlier this week, the American business magazine Forbes interviewed Gil Luria, director of research at the investment firm D.A. Davidson, concerning the state of the online marketplace Etsy. And, in his commentary he opines
. . . . . the biggest change in the run up to Etsy’s 2015 IPO — [was when] the company removed its requirement that all goods sold on the platform had to be handmade. This gave big manufacturers access to Etsy’s loyal customer base. When Etsy started listing $10 bracelets from Chinese factories right next to $100 bracelets handmade by homemakers in Wisconsin, the homemakers could no longer compete.
Initially you may think that perhaps hand painted silk is not as easily copied and mass-produced as some jewellery appears to be, but a big manufacturer simply takes original artwork for a scarf, scans it and then laser prints it onto silk over and over. This state of affairs doesn’t merely affect solo crafters. Within the luxury brands sector companies often have their work copied, and, as I am sure you have noticed, fake versions are found at street markets all over the world. One feature which frequently adds value to handmade work is when there is only one of its kind and consequently even a limited ‘print’ run is unacceptable let alone approving mass production. When Etsy permitted mass-produced stock to be listed directly side by side with handmade they effectively undercut and devalued handmade and at the same time diminished and diluted their own brand!
Sometimes you feel totally out of step and then suddenly with one extra long stride you’re right back in time and notice that you’re also in tune and on trend. That’s how I felt when scanning through lines of photographs from the recent round of fashion shows.
On a daily basis there are things that are uplifting and then there are things that irritate. And, sometimes those two responses meet in a head on crash. I don’t want to have a huge rant about this, but I couldn’t resist making a comment. Firstly, I love the women’s designs from the Italian fashion house Dolce & Gabbana. I love the rich, ornate fabrics, put together in irrepressible combinations and finished off with an expert attention to detail. Haute couture by its very nature isn’t mass market, but its long tentacles spread influence across the world of fashion through lesser, mass-produced merchandise embellished with a luxury brand name. As with much fashion retailing collections are supported by extensive, glossy ad campaigns. Last year’s Dolce & Gabbana’s campaign was a take on a vintage version of Italy, recycling the 1950s, über cool, stylish look. Sparkling models grouped together displaying a youthful, exuberant version of living. Fine. Gorgeous.
This year’s campaign’s launch photograph, not so fine. Beautiful people, beautiful clothes, beautifully shot, but one huge ERROR a female model is shown eating bread!! I mean let’s face it, it’s almost headline news to see a model eating, but blatantly eating white bread what is going on? Or, hang on, is this a deliberately provocative photograph? As beautiful as it all is, I just find seeing an industry infamous for the ‘size 0’ phenomenon parading stick thin models posed pretending to eat refined carbs a bit rich for my taste.