Watch This: Struggling to Stitch

Written By bryanboy

Watch this moving clip about what’s going on these days in New York’s Garment District. I don’t think I’ll forget this video the next time I buy something with a “Made in New York” label on.

I feel sorry for the unfortunate garment workers who don’t get the compensation they deserve.

Especially now when a lot of things are made in far-flung places while retail price tags remain the same, or, even higher than what was being charged before.

This is nothing new in the fashion industry. Many brands have come under fire for various labor issues (unfair compensations, inhumane working conditions, etc) elsewhere around the world.

Ideally, I want to buy smarter, buy less and of course, love what I already have, which means wearing the things I own many, many times until I get sick of it.

Unfortunately, it’s easier said than done.

The temptation to buy affordable, fast fashion is inescapable. After all, not everyone has deep pockets.

When I did the laundry at my boyfriend’s apartment two weeks ago, I felt disgusted at myself for having amassed all these socks over three months of traveling. Thirty six pairs to be exact. When you hop from one city to another, it’s more cost-efficient to buy new, fresh pairs of socks (I buy H&M or Uniqlo socks… for what, $5 a pair, maybe less?) instead of sending them to the hotel cleaners, paying triple or quadruple the amount you originally paid for just to wash them. It’s impractical to pay $15 (plus tax, plus service charge, plus plus whatever) to clean a $3.99 pair of coloured socks! Same applies to underwear. Try living out of a suitcase and tell me what my best option is.

And when the mood to splurge hits… what do you get? An “investment” piece, usually a very expensive classic, that you can use time and time again or do you splurge on something unique, bold and extraordinary that you can only use a handful of times? After all, you want value for what you are paying for….

Our lifestyles and resources (or lack thereof) dictate the choices that we make.

I’ve always disliked the idea of waste or wastefulness. My parents raised me and my siblings to finish everything that’s served on our plates. Growing up, I’ve heard the old line “there are starving children in Africa” countless of times.

Today, more than ever, I’ll do my best to be more conscious.


  1. A solution. When i go on holiday i locater a local launderette and dry cleaners so i can wash my underwear but also have any items dry cleaned, i’m sorry, but laziness is the only thing preventing you from accessing other services outside of the hotel. Worst case scenario you can hand wash socks and underwear

    1. bryanboy Post author

      Laziness? During fashion month (new york, milan, paris), i have shows from 10am until 10pm!

  2. Darling, I think people buy TOO MUCH fast fashion because of their lack of creativity and they wear those clothes as if an invisible hand had dressed them up.
    But, I must say that, according to me, travelling is one of the few very good excuses to buy fast fashion ;-)!

  3. Well said! I especially like (and try to practice) buying smarter, buying less, and loving what I have. Fast fashion is so tempting, but esp. after the Jezebel/Business Week article about H&M, I’ve tried to make more conscious fashion choices. Those dollars saved can go towards staples (eying a Chanel reissue 227 now!)

  4. dev is correct…if you care to do it,theres lots of ways, but if you dont, here comes excuses. laziness! yeah, why not hand wash? i bet you have done that too a handful of times in the philipines.

  5. I must admit and agree with lilev, traveling maybe one of the very few good reasons for fast fashion. I find myself constantly buying new socks, underwear, under shirts etc;just because I maybe on the move and the schedule is slim. I understand what bryanboy means and I don’t think laziness has much to do with it. Besides if that’s the case than we all are victims of laziness, because in this era everything is made to be convenient and easier.

  6. Bryan, trust me i have had the same problem whilst being on holiday but i will was my “wares” in the hostel sink or shower and let them dry overnight whilst i am sleeping and/or during the day. If you don’t leave everything to the last minute you will always have a few clean pairs to wear whilst the others are drying for a day or so.
    Bryan. if you spent a quarter of the time doing this as you do arranging your outfits and tweeting it won’t be a problem.
    Not having a go, just saying…..

    1. bryanboy Post author

      Dev: You said it yourself — you’re on holiday ie you have free time in the world. I don’t have the luxury of time. I wake up at 7AM, come home usually at 1 or 2 after a long day’s worth of work or shows or events, then sleep at 3 or 4AM after editing photos, videos, answering hundreds of emails, etc.

      Do you know what fashion month feels like? Here’s a typical day:

  7. Here’s the suggestion on how to support fair labor of American apparel: Give companies that produce goods in the U.s. a huge tax incentive so that they can compete with the rest of the global market + run a huge campaign to support “made in USA” clothing, if we actually got the industry going, it would create jobs AND the costs would go down because the manufacturers would actually be producing VOLUME!!- I rep production for high-end companies (Italy and Peru), and I can tell you first hand that the situation is bad everywhere. I’m both Italian & American, and I know how Italy is struggling with the exact same thing. Peruvian production, on the other hand, is slightly on the rise (mostly because most companies get fed up working with Chinese production), however, they’re constantly being badgered by apparel companies to lower their prices when they absolutely cannot (in most cases) afford to do so, causing them to unfortuantely loose customers to thier competitors in China (that don’t even come close to the same standards). I think that the situation is going to get worse before it gets better. The cost of basic raw goods has gone up so much over the past few months (especailly cotton that has doubled since last November) that most companies are opting to produce cheaper goods and offer them at the current price rather than raising thier wholesale and ratail prices and keep the higher quality. It’s really sad… Just look around, for the most part, clothing just doesn’t look high quality anymore. It looks like junk. (I’m so INCREDIBLY SPOILED!!! but I hate looking at cheap junk..) On the other hand.. can you blame companies that move production to cheaper places? The global economy is in the pot and people can’t afford as much… it’s not just he U.S.- low quality produciton is everywhere now…

  8. Jasmin Riihiniemi

    Dear Bryan dont feel guilty of buying H&M socks, Im sure people do worse things to waste than that ;) You give so many good things to people and your blog always makes me smile =) Many people dont understand that fashion can be really work! Loved the linked you putted here for Dev.

  9. hi love your blog but i must agree with the others about just hand washing the socks yourself! – sorry bryan, not saying u dont work hard but there are people in the world who are stuck working similar hours with much more grueling work (and yes amazingly still find time to hand wash their socks, etc). and this isn’t just during fashion week…

    also it takes less than 10 mins to hand wash a pair of socks. if u have time to walk/taxi/etc out to H&M, grab your socks, and pay for them then i’m sure u can hand wash ur old pairs

    cheers :)

  10. this is a common scenario here in the Philippines where the likes of Ralph Lauren, Gap, Old Navy, et al are having their clothes sewn here for very cheap labor so I don’t find this shocking at all. :(

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