I got an email a couple of weeks ago from Madesmith, promoting workwear designed by a woman “on a mission to create clothing for women that balances style and comfort.” On first read, this really excited me…since I work from home, in a profession that makes me somewhat of a creative type (at least I like to think so), I am always looking for a workwear alternative to (let’s be honest here, people) paint-stained sweatshirts and leggings. After all, it’s nice to look good for the dog. And the UPS guy. Oh, and my husband.
I clicked on over, and found that the new line, Nativen, was pitched ostensibly towards women who ‘work on their feet all day performing a number of manual jobs.’ I know a number of people who work thus—from nurses to ceramists—and so I was further intrigued. Plus, the pictures (moodily shot, beautifully styled, one featuring a bulldog) really got me. And I loved the look of the ‘Build Your Adventure bandana’ (which turned out to have been designed by the ever-amazing Lisa Congdon). So I clicked through to purchase.
Brace yourself. The bandana costs…
That’s eighty-eight dollars, folks. For a 21” square of cotton. Admittedly, ‘100% American grown and made.’ But still.
I have been feeling for some time that the fetishization of the maker has reached its apotheosis, and I think we have perhaps found here the moment where it has jumped the shark. Let me be clear…I have spent the bulk of my professional life advocating for makers in one way or another. Their work is all over my house. And I count them as some of my best friends (yes, I know what that sounds like, but it’s true). But not one I can think of would for one second entertain the idea of spending $88 for a square piece of cotton that would soon become irreparably stained with stock; caked with glaze; burnt by a soldering iron; or chewed up by the dog. What has happened to bring us to the point where the idea of workwear for the maker and doer is more important than the creation of workwear that working women can actually afford?
Understand that I do not mean to denigrate the work of Nativen’s founder, who is undoubtedly a lovely person who believes in her mission. But $88 for a bandana is not reality in my world; nor is it reality in the world of people who work on their feet all day. And in a world where most of the makers I know don’t earn a fraction of what their work is worth and can’t, because of market forces, that $88 is downright insulting. Now, if 50% of the purchase price went toward supporting continuing education for independent makers in America, perhaps I’d feel differently.
How about it, Nativen?