Having spent the last week at the Clothes Show Live at the NEC in Birmingham, I was painfully aware on my return home, of the real face of disposable fashion. Its very easy to hide away from it usually. I rarely go to the ‘high street’ and don’t really buy clothes from main stream shops. I endeavour to buy only second hand, make my own or buy from carefully chosen retailers or small companies. Occasionally I venture to the city centre but rarely if ever, come back with clothing from a high street store. So to spend a week, face to face, with cheap knock offs of what the high street do, was quite depressing. Stalls selling ‘hand knit’ cardigans, capes and christmas themed sweaters for less than £10 were everywhere. On the last day, dresses were being sold at two for £1. In our area of the show, all the stand holders were there to promote hand made garments, jewelry, home furnishings etc. It was a hard six days with many of my fellow stand holders losing a considerable amount of money, after being assured by the organisers that there would be tens of thousands of people coming past their stands eager for something new and exciting. Of the few people who, despite the lack of signage, promotion and the complete lack of heating in our area, did venture over, many were very positive. Some however, were distinctly disappointed that I wouldn’t sell the garments from A Stitch in Time for £20 or £30. I explained many, many times about the time consuming nature of the knitting but how the end result was so worthwhile. Some people got it, some even bought the books as a result of this argument, more unfortunately just walked away as they couldn’t or didn’t want to spend the time knitting them.
Significantly, one of the most popular display garments on the stand was the Perfect Christmas Jumper, persuading many customers to start knitting again, or to challenge themselves with something more complex, or even to learn knitting so that they could work their way up to a christmas jumper for next year. This patience and lack of need for instant gratification is what I so wanted to inspire, and would have been delighted if even just one person had been persuaded to knit it. Its ability to inspire people to take up their knitting needles, is what makes this pattern so important to me, and why I was so distressed to see such a poor interpretation that could be bought without a second thought, out there on the high street. In addition, whilst still at the show, we heard one purchaser mention as she walked away, that she was going to run some up on her knitting machine and sell them at car boot sales and a ‘cheap and cheerful’ retailer working out how cheaply he could get them made for in acrylic and machine knit for his market stall. So all in all, the H & M issue came on top of an already depressing week.
I already feel as though a whole week of creativity has been lost in the void that was the Clothes Show Live and desperately want to get on with getting Stitch in Time 2 pre release sorted, new kits and patterns onto the website and new designs worked on. To start trying to fight a major high street giant is beyond my means financially and beyond my strength mentally and physically. I have shown mine and theirs together on the blog, I have named and shamed on Twitter, and I will send an email to make them aware of the similarities of the two garments, but I won’t be going any further. I need to focus on creating, designing and making and I think the anger and frustration that may very well ensue from any sort of protracted argument with such a huge company would, quite frankly, finish me off.
The tale is told, I’ve shown it for what it is, a cheap copy, but I need to keep going with my planned path over the next few months and not let myself be drawn into something that I might struggle to get out of! It might not be what everyone might prefer me to do, and it doesn’t bring about justice, I realise that, and I do hope, people don’t feel let down by me, but I have to do what is better for me, and with such an enormous work load ahead of me over the next few months, the choice is made.
Thank you everyone for your words of support and some extremely good advice. To know you are not on your own makes all the difference.
ETA. The Christmas Jumper makes an appearance on Glee