Inside the shop: designer fabrics galore!!
Somewhere in Tokyo (though I can’t tell you where exactly) is a tiny custom clothing business, run out of an individual’s apartment, with no sign out front or advertising to let you know it is there. All customers they have hear about this place by word of mouth, and they don’t advertise anywhere.
Can you see any logos or fabric you recognize in this pile?
Though I thought places like these mostly existed in China, apparently they do in Tokyo too – though they don’t manufacture hundreds of knockoffs and sell them on the street claiming them to be the real thing. This is a shop that buys overrun and excess (and sometimes defective) fabric from the factories that manufacture fabrics for designer houses: just about every high-end brand you can think of, mostly made in Italy. They buy as much as is available, often imprinted with logos of the various designers, and then make clothing on-demand for their customers, charging only a fraction of the cost of a designer item.Trying on some C_____** boucle.
Made from the same fabrics as from designer collections. Made by machine (i.e; not couture). Made to fit each customer. And often made as a copy of items that are on the runways right now. For instance: the shop buys an overrun of a Prada fabric, used in the current S/S ’11 RTW Collection. A customer brings in a photo of the Prada jacket that the fabric is used for – and has this shop make a copy – in the exact same fabric. The shop sews in their own label, and charges the customer around $900 for the jacket.Mother-in-law “trying on” a P____ print from their current Fall ’12 collection. See the right-hand page in the lookbook open in front of her.
Though the ethics of all this make me queasy, I accompanied my mother-in-law on a visit to this shop. She had had a skirt made in LV-printed fabric, and a tunic and top made in P____-print, and was visiting to pick them up. The shop had just received a couple of samples of fabric from the C____ S/S ’11 Haute Couture Collection, and I marveled as I ran my hands over it.
A close-up of the pinky-green tweed. Look at how many different threads are in the weave!!
I’ve never seen anything like it. Tiny threads of all thicknesses, beribboned, gold and metallic, sequined, strips of wool, thinly-cut strips of printed fabric, chiffon – everything you could imagine was woven into a single 30 cm-length of the haute couture wool boucle. At full price the boucle above (130 cm wide) costs $2,700 a meter. !!!!!!! I mean, how often does one get the opportunity to even touch fabric that costs $2700 a meter????!
These ribbons are off-the-hook!!
The shop buys it for around $800/meter. (Think 1 meter = approx. 1 yd; 130 cm = approx. one-and-a-third yards) As I fondled this beautiful fabric I could most certainly see why it could cost this much – and why a suit from this brand could be so incredibly expensive.
They claim they can actually make a copy of a suit from this brand (how accurate a copy I cannot say) for around $2000, and a jacket for around $1500 (including the cost of the fabric). According to my mother-in-law, the quality of the garments they made is not great (the fit is a bit off, and doesn’t boast the well-fit patternmaking that designer garments do), and the finishing is not high-end, but at least on the outside they do look like the designer versions.
As for me – if the shop will sell me some scraps from some of these boucle fabrics at less than $800/meter I think I might have to re-appropriate some and make some accessories (flower corsages, headbands, barettes etc) post-haste! They’re too beautiful to throw away even the smallest amount!
An A_____ mouse skull-and-crossbones fabric.
So want to talk morality in all of this? Is there anyone in the wrong here? The factories who are selling off copyrighted fabric? The shop who buys it and then creates copies of designer clothing with it? Or the consumers who demand the designer knock-offs, wanting the look but not wanting to pay full price?
Mother-in-law’s finished custom shirt. I think the origin of the fabric is pretty obvious.
Where do you stand and what are your thoughts?
**Brand-names have been abbreviated so as not to cause legal trouble for anyone.
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Well, it’s all pretty much completely wrong and immoral. Those fabrics were likely created in an unethical environment, as most knock-off fabrics are, and regardless of how ~*pretty the fabrics are, they are ILLEGAL COPIES. This is a designer’s vision being taken and ripped off so someone else can profit from it.
In no way, shape or form is this okay. In no way, shape or form does this help fashion. You want a designer fabric? Find something similar or save your pennies. Giving a replicator money for a design created by someone else is never, ever going to be moral or ethical. It’s disgusting and gives fashion a bad name, and encourages replicators to continue ripping off everyone from huge design houses to small, independent designers. This. Is not. Okay.
The title of your blog becomes very appropriate for this post! (Though I recognize you chose not to share your feelings on the ethics of this operation, so I’m certainly not accusing you of supporting it. Just please, please don’t purchase anything from these people.)
If I understood everything correctly, the producers sell original fabrics to this store. Not saying that it’s right, but I can understand that a company that’s producing such complicated fabrics at probably a high cost, doesn’t want to see unused yardage going to waste without making profit out of it. IMO the fashion houses should buy all the fabric they got produced and calculate better when it comes to yardage so there isn’t so much waste.
They sell designer fabrics at my favorite fabic shop here in Berlin, too. But they are mostly wools and wovens without a pattern (mostly Valentino) that is screaming a brands name at you, though you can get lining with a logo print.
Nevertheless the costumer is the one who’s creating the garments and not seamstresses in an actual business.
Yes, Katarina – you are correct.
The fabrics in this shop are not knock-off fabrics. They are the actual, real fabrics used in the collections themselves, bought from the factories that produce them. (And often a single factory may be manufacturing for a multitude of designer houses; I don’t even know if textile manufacturers even could serve only one brand and still stay in business.) The factories sell off excess fabric if the designer houses haven’t purchased all that was manufactured; they also sell off the fabrics that are slightly imperfect or don’t meet up to the houses’ standards, or unwanted sample runs, since the factories try to recoup at least some of the costs from the manufacturing of a faulty batch.
The fabric swatches all have the manufacturers’ tags on them, with the companies they were manufactured for, as well as the amount of excess/rejected fabric available -perhaps they were sold to a jobber/middleman and then bought by this small store, but they are most certainly coming directly from the source.
After all, you can buy excess and rejected designer fabrics used in the actual collections at places like Mood Fabrics in the U.S. – where I’ve seen fabrics from Diane von Furstenburg, Michael Kors, and Ralph Lauren, just to name a few. I don’t remember seeing fabrics with logos imprinted on them available at Mood – the logo being the only copyrightable part of the textile – but perhaps I wasn’t looking hard enough.
The store does not deal solely in these designer fabrics; they also offer a number of other fabrics available to the customer. But their business is custom clothing – a lot of it for people with difficult-to-fit/ageing bodies, who no longer can find ready-to-wear that fits them properly. Women have always been coming into this shop with a photo of a garment they saw somewhere – in a magazine, on the runways etc. – and asking for something similar made to fit them. Any fairly adept seamstress can make something “similar.” Some women though really like the brand-name fabrics so the shop began stocking the excess from the manufacturer’s and offering the service of bundling the fabric cost with the cost of producing the garment.
Ahhh, I see! I’m sorry, I misunderstood the original post. I thought these were knockoffs. My bad!
😉 No problem! I can see how it would be infuriating to think that a place knocks off not only the design of the clothing, but the textiles as well – from designer brands. And many places, based in the Far East, that manufacture full runs of “designer-inspired” clothing and bags do exactly that – though they probably aren’t manufacturing the textiles themselves, but instead contracting with textile manufacturers to produce logo’d fabric that they use in their knockoffs.
I’m interested in where everyone stands on this issue – and where the division between “right” and “wrong” lies. After all, I skate very close to this moral quandary with the content I publish on my blog, teaching people how to make designer replicas, so I’m intrigued as to where a little custom clothing shop like this falls on everyone’s scale of morality.
I buy clothes and accessories very cheap, – sales, second hand, DIY, etc. Will it shock you tat where I live (town of approx. 10 thousand people) no one could afford to dress from head to toe in designer stuff? I have to say that I have not brought up to worship designers. I like looking at their stuff, but that’s about it. I might be inspired and make something inspired, but that is how far it goes. It’s more often that I see a pair of nice shoes and know that I wont buy them (too expensive), but overall, I am not upset that I can’t afford to buy LV r Chanel or whatever. I can’t afford to buy Picasso to nag on my wall as well. Whatever.
So, I would never chase designer replicas. They probably are still out of my price range 🙂 I certainly would never wear something just because it’s brand, designer and I got it at good price.
Yes, sadly my brand awareness is very low and most of my friends are the same.
And till I don’t think I don’t dress well, for me is more about having fun, and sometimes looking interesting rather than good 😀 Oh, yes, and sadly about knowing how much I van afford.
I have those moments, when I think – damn, some people have trouble feeding their children and here I am complaining that I need a bigger closet! That doesn’t mean we are not allowed to enjoy fashion, but sometimes one needs to put things in perspective, and I bet fashion lovers often give impression that all they care is about next pretty, fab item no matter what it costs to somebody (for example modern slaves) etc. Thus I am a great fan of looking at designer work, enjoying looking, being inspired and doing it ourselves, becoming a bit of designers. It’s fun, it’s creative, it’s more stimulating than simply opening ones valet.
Sorry for long rant, happens sometimes!
I wouldn’t be surprised if you said you weren’t interested in designer stuff.:-) I feel sort of the same way – the name doesn’t do it for me, but the design does.
However, especially in Asia many people actually do want to walk around covered in Gucci logos or LVs or whatever. (Maybe it’s akin to the 1999-2003 J. Lo trend that happened in the U.S. and then faded away as more people became disillusioned with such “status?”) It’s certainly still a status symbol here (and has been for many years) – and in Tokyo/Kansai, where few people can even afford a house let alone a nice, big house with a garden – and few people can afford a car, let alone a nice flashy car – people have more disposable income, and the way people display their “wealth” is through what they wear: brand-name, recognizable items like watches, bags, wallets, jewelry, and clothing. Many people I guess feel that they are not able to afford anything permanent while living in Japan and the only way to add a bit of that “aspirational lifestyle” into their lives is through purchasing items to wear (and show around, by default). That being said, most people aren’t usually flashy or showy about it, but to be an employed 25+-year-old and *not* be using a brand-name wallet would be considered a little…weird in most circles. Like you didn’t have “good taste” or something.
Yeah, I am aware that it is like that in some cultures. The closest one to where I live (Latvia) which has a significant people of population who are crazy about designers is Russia. Those people are usually new money and are made fun of often, because one can buy brand, but can’t buy taste… People in my country while neighbors, have quite different mentality, but that’s another story.
That is the sad part – you have to have a designer wallet not to be weird. It is as if that thing ads to your value or lack of it makes you less. Sad and absurd, and tells about certain lack of confidence in whole nation or part of society. I am just more about celebrating uniqueness, than consumerism, because I think that and advertising produces brand awareness and tells people what is and what isn’t *cool*.
I have to agree with Katarina and unless the designers have it in their contract with the fabric maker not to sell imperfect fabric,to buy all of the fabric of a certain pattern regardless of quality or some other financial arrangement to receive a monetary for compensation for a particular print that is manufactured then the fabric company is within their rights to sell to whomever they choose to make a profit or at least minimize the losses.
I don’t find it morally unethical to create knockoffs or use designers inspirations for personal use; it becomes illegal and crosses the line when someone tries to pass off knockoffs or inspirations as the designers actual work and produce it for a profit, so getting into a gray area with the shops that are making these garments unless they are changing it up a bit to make it different – even if it is different buttons or placement of a pocket.
I also have to agree with you about being drawn to a particular style or look as opposed to a particular designer and I feel sad for people who derive their self-worth and status based having a “designer” anything that costs a lot of money to scream to the world “hey look, I have money and that makes me successful!”.
I agree that this is Odd–not being a brand person, but no one is really at fault, except maybe the designers that do not purchase all of the manufactured fabric–they should then expect this to happen. it is bizarre, but aren’t we all buying patterns/following designs of SOMEONE, name brand designer or fellow burda member?