To restore meaning and expression in the fashion industry, we must return to tradition, quality, craftsmanship and appreciation for heritage.
As one travels through the diverse latitudes of Latin America, and inquires into fashion and production processes in the region, one realizes that the discourse of “made by artisans,” “empowering communities of artisans,” and the thousand and one variants one can think of, are a common denominator in a high percentage of brands.
We must celebrate that Latin American crafts and folk art have been catapulted into the spotlight, gaining the international recognition they deserve. But while consumers rediscover Latin America and its nurtured folklore, some wonder what craftsmanship is all about. The term artisan refers to any product that was made through traditional or manual techniques, without the intervention of an industrial process. The term also refers to anything that indicates craftsmanship, craftsmanship process and tradition. Today, however, almost everything is called craft, without much filtering or control, and this lax semantics reached a boiling point. As a result, this often angers artisans in different communities. That’s why we have to be careful with what we call artisanal.
Should contemporary craftsmanship be more important than heritage? Is there a craft movement? And if so, how far has it moved and how far is it moving?
There is a real desire to defend, describe and promote genuine quality, and to celebrate that magical but hard-to-reach attribute inherent in craftsmanship. This desire is seen in both designers and consumers. The latter want to experience fashion not only as static objects, but also want to understand the totality of the context in which they were created, to understand why they are special and to understand the skills needed to do so. In other words: see behind the scenes.
Consumers today have a growing interest in the local, the original, and the unbranded. And who are we talking about in particular? Of Generation Z, those consumers who follow millennials and were born between 1996 and 2011.
Millennials were Internet pioneers. They invented Facebook, they buy through their phones, and they went from watching cable television to platforms like Hulu and Netflix. Generation Z, on the other hand, does not remember life without these basic elements of 21st century life.
Generation Z has been shaped by the recession and is prepared to fight hard to create a stable future for themselves, trust brands less, and in fact care more about originality than a logo and everything it means. It is important to understand that Generation Z has grown up with the Internet, which means they are used to having almost unlimited purchase options. This next generation has an unprecedented number of options to choose from, no matter what they are looking for. This could be the reason why 66% of Generation Z choose to buy from brands that sell high quality, original products rather than medium to low quality products. They value craftsmanship and want to know the stories behind these products, celebrate the human flaw of handmade, and love novelty. They dream of returning to the basics of less and better.
The oversupply has caused many consumers to feel overwhelmed. Therefore, they seek to simplify, detoxify and clear their lives. Products positioned as handcrafted become new status symbols, the new way of showing the world sophistication and lost individuality.
Brands accommodate a new focus on the little things that make their products feel special by paying more attention to detail. Trade will go beyond the global and national to focus on creating local connections. This new trend towards localism will focus on building local economies and communities. We must think that the money spent locally will be wealth retained in the community, and that must be the focus. From the point of view of consumption, this scenario will be favored by these consumers who seek individualization and novelty. They are more demanding seeking to consume that which not only enriches their lives, but also supports the ecosystem and endangered skills.
Author: Camila Straschnoy (Elle Mexico)