Davide “Dicor” sewing for the first time his own Lizard backpack.
Between the late 1700s and early 1800s clothing production started moving from cottage industry to large-scale industrial production. By the late 1800s it had reached a level that, system wise, was relatively similar to the one we rely on today, however for many reasons still distant from fast fashion or other less harmful modes of production employed at present. As a result people’s perception of clothes, their manufacture and their value have since changed greatly.
Our main workhorse the “Old Bessie”
It would seem that the bigger the retailer, the greater one’s detachment with the item of clothing becomes, consequently shortening its life span. It has become cheaper and more convenient to dispose of an item of clothing than it is to repair it, furthermore, the know-how to repair clothes, which in many cultures was passed down from generation to generation, is slowly disappearing.
In addition to this, it is not only a question of price, the growing pace of the clothing industry has inevitably affected the quality. While well made garments are still produced worldwide, the unprecedented speed with which new trends are set has made even these items obsolete as they are subjected to a system based on quick turnover, therefore not allowing them to serve their purpose.
The result of these circumstances raises the question of why one would want to repair an item of clothing that has been designed to last as little as possible, be it due to bad quality or passing trend. To do so would be pointless and the effect of this is clearly visible in the slow decline in popularity of alteration and repair shops. These businesses are manned by workers whose expertise is often widely under appreciated, despite having skills that reach far beyond their job title.
In recent years, whilst this has been happening, developments in technology have made procedures and processes which were previously unapproachable, available to nearly anyone. This happens in Fabrication Labs, often referred to as FabLabs.
FabLabs are becoming increasingly popular in cities around the world. For a reasonable monthly fee they provide services such as 3D printing, CNC routing and laser cutting, in addition to having other machines employed in various fields of production, all of which are available for anyone to use. These places are populated not only by technicians who are familiar with the machines, but also by armies of nerds willing to help and school beginners on the wonders of personal production. Chances are that if you search FabLab and the place where you live, one won’t be too far from you.
It follows that newly available technologies, aided by local businesses (FabLabs and repair shops), can allow the user to perform the same tasks the manufacturer would but at a fraction of the cost, learning new skills, with the added bonus of being able to tweak and adapt garments to personal needs.
As a result of these developments we would like to suggest a shift in the way gear and clothing are supplied, to cut out the middleman and avoid having an unnecessary production line, starting from material suppliers, through our designs, in order to deliver a final product that is completely adaptable and fully satisfies the needs of different users, reaching them directly.
To do this we intend to offer two different options to manufacture each of our products.
We will provide a package containing all the pre-cut fabrics and components to put together the item, this will contain the instructions to assemble it as well as the details of all the necessary tools and machines.
Fabrics and components would vary on the basis of specific needs and conditions, advice as to which one to choose will be available in the product description.
It will work as follows:
-Choose item, fabric and components.
-Order the item.
-Receive the package.
-Take it to a local seamster to be put together or assemble personally, at home or in a local FabLab.
The pattern for each item will be available for free download, as a vector file, to be used to cut personally sourced fabrics (this can happen by using the file to laser cut the fabrics at a local FabLab or by printing it and cutting the material by hand), choose parts and components and develop the garment based on specific needs.
In the case of further development of the garment (adding\removing pockets, adding zips, altering the fit) we advise the user does so with the help of a local seamster.
This option will also include instructions as well as tools and machine lists to assemble the item.
It will work as follows:
-Source fabrics and components
-Purchase and download pattern and instruction file
-Laser cut material at FabLab or print pattern and cut fabrics by hand.
-Take pre-cut fabric and components to local seamster or assemble personally, at home or in a local FabLab.
To facilitate this process a list of fabric suppliers will be made available on our website and all the products will be graded based on the skill required to assemble them.
In addition to this we plan on working directly with FabLabs and Repair Shops on a membership basis. We will provide FabLabs with a basic line of clothing to test our process, users will be able to follow and practice the process with the help of technicians and members of the FabLab therefore facilitating the procedure of personal fabrication. By doing so we intend to increase the attendance of FabLabs and bring the necessary attention to personal fabrication to a wider public.
If you are a staff member of a FabLab or Repair Shop and would like to participate in our initial testing phase get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org !
By adopting these methods we encourage repairs. It is much easier to repair an item that one has built or to establish a relationship with a local business that can take care of manufacture and maintenance.
While one may rightfully argue that the levels of detail and refinement reached by the highest end of the clothing market can’t be matched by self-production the outcomes are not far off, often even surpassing regular market standards and definitely the ones of fast-fashion. Therefore the production system we depend on is on the way to becoming obsolete, a good reason to not sleep on Open Manufacture, and as Italians we know a lot about sleep, we’re experts at it, so it must be a good idea to get even us out of bed.
Open Manufacture is coming soon,