Fashion faces reverse Darwin effect, dies quickly

It has always astounded me that there continues to be a business in retro clothing. It’s not that I don’t know why people want to keep wearing it – I understand the desire in it. What eludes me is how some clothing from 50 years ago still holds up.

In comparison to today’s clothing quality, which seems to last only as long as the day’s current fad, yesteryear’s clothing ranks far superior.

Going with Darwin’s evolutionary theory, shouldn’t our clothing manufacturing only improve? Shouldn’t we be using the best methods, the best material and the best practices? Instead, we live in a society where you can buy your blue jeans and bananas in the same place. Chances are neither one of those items are fair trade either.

Have our values as an American society changed for the worse?

In the time when retro clothes were just modern-day fashion, it seems to me that people took pride in the quality of their work. Brands like Levi Strauss reigned, based in the campaign for “American made.”

What does that say about today’s society if the defining characteristics of our clothing are that they’re cheaply made and mass produced?

My mom occasionally pulls out clothes from her closet – hoping she’ll one day fit in them again – that are older than I am. I’m lucky if I find a shirt from high school that is still in good shape.

The only clothing items from the past two decades that consistently seem to last are wedding dresses. Keep in mind, a wedding dress is worth more than my car and only gets worn once so I barely consider that point even valid.

Take a walk around a thrift shop and you’ll see the great chasm between clothes made with integrity and clothes made for consumerism.

While the clothes made with integrity are disco-dated, they’ve got a number of things going for them that today’s clothing lacks. They’ve got a higher thread count, stitching that someone took time to do and they’re made of real fabric – not spray-painted foam onto muslin called “pleather.” I shudder at the thought.

I see two plausible solutions to this problem. We can push for American integrity in our textile manufacturing, storm Washington, raise awareness of the importance of fair trade and try to change society – or we can just wear clothes from the 1960s until we die.



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