I met Marie at the One Of A Kind Show this past weekend. She came wondering by my modest booth, and stayed to shop. Another customer of mine was trying a few bags on, and the colour of the bags caught Marie's eye. Jewel Purple... A wonderful colour, so rare for the "orphaned" leather I source for the bags.
We started to talk, and immediately I felt how positive and genuinely interested she was in what is it we all do at the show. How we make things, decide which materials we want to use for our wares and how we are bringing production of every day items back into our home countries. Marie told me that shopping for locally made items was a new thing for her, as most of the time she would make her purchases while visiting her remaining family in the Old World. Or go to the high end shops and look for the Old World brands she loved since she was a young girl back in Britain.
But those brands were no longer the way Marie remembered them. What was supposed to be luxury bags, watches, eye-glasses, china, - anything she once thought she wanted to have, - had lost the story behind it all, lost the individuality and in a lot of cases, quality too. The Brand Name remains, so does the logo, but the spirit of the maker has long disappeared behind the conveyor of mass production, cheap parts, labour, and meaningless celebrity appearance gimmicks.
Nonetheless, Marie's aspiration for fashion and quality remained. She just knew she had to look outside of what is perceived as fashion in the mass produced world. Marie tried a lot of my purses on and asked questions about each of them. She was excited to meet the person, who actually made the "beautiful purses" and to learn that small businesses, such as mine, are in fact helping to preserve the environment, while using recycled or overstock materials, making and selling it all on the spot. Many of them are giving work opportunities for local artists too. She really enjoyed the personal attention she got from me and all the assistance she was given whilst picking a bag.
I also told Marie, that anything new in fashion always starts in the Indie community, and it takes months for the corporate producers to catch up.
Marie was an example of a small victory for Indies. If we can convert one person into a local, environmentally conscious shopper, many will follow.
This meeting was one of the highlights of the show.