With the advent of the Information Age and especially since the rise of social media, consumers crave the uniqueness and individuality intrinsic to handmade items. As the fashion industry begins to be more conscientious about its processes, handmade techniques will likely continue to be considered more valuable than machine made construction.
#1 It's Environmentally Friendly
Handmade techniques require far fewer non-renewable materials. There is less fabric waste in pattern-making, no water contamination, and less electricity used when constructing a garment by hand or with sewing machine. The fashion industry is one of the largest global polluters, resulting largely from waste materials and factory runoff. Handmade clothes, since they take longer to make and cost more than machine made clothes, will be treated as more of an investment and will not make their way to landfills as rapidly. Handmade techniques tend to go hand-in-hand with more natural fibers, resulting in less microplastic waste polluting our waterways.
#2 More Durable
Hand stitches are more flexible and therefore more durable than machine stitches. Skilled hand-stitching is more comfortable and more subtle than a machine stitch, resulting in an overall higher quality garment. It can be a serious advantage to have high-wear seams hand stitched. If and when hand stitched seams fail, they are easier to repair than machine stitched seams.
(Handmade Silk Buttons on the Keyhole Blouse)
#3 More Dimensional
Machine stitching is always flat. For a truly elegant shape on a 3-dimensional figure, hand sewing has a marked advantage in that it can conform to the shape of the figure, whether the garment is fitted to a mannequin or, in the case of truly custom clothing, the customer. Fine men’s shirt collars are often hand sewn to better adapt to the rounded shape of the neck. You’ll find that often the best-fitting and draping designs are hand sewn in places where the shape really matters.
(Italian Handmade Silk Blouse - Bynes New York)
#4 Preserving Traditional Crafts
Crocheting, braiding, embroidery, appliqué, and other techniques that require human hands were, for a time, so out of fashion that they risked being lost to time. Keeping these traditional arts alive preserves each technique’s cultural heritage and differentiates one maker, designer, and artisan from another. Like folk music and regional dishes, textile techniques passed down from one generation to another connect us to culture and to history.
Speaking of connection, there is a felt relationship between wearer and maker when it comes to handmade clothes that is not present in fast fashion and mass produced garments—a sense that what you’re wearing was made by someone for you. Hazel Clark, the research chair of fashion at Parsons, sees this sense of connection as an immeasurable value added to handmade clothes. “There is a fear of losing connection, through social media, the wider global scene, that means we are seeking connection in many walks of life—including in our clothes. That sense of the individual in the process is important.”
(Hazel Clark is the research chair of fashion at Parsons)
Handmade at Bynes New York
Bynes New York works with small scale international designers that are preserving traditional techniques and processes. Much of the work we support is handmade and highly skilled. In our travels, we meet with artisans who are preserving their regions’ traditional handicrafts and incorporating them into next level modern designs. Our partners work with local, ethical workshops to bring their designs to life, whether that means sourcing an ancient style bucket bags from the Wayuu Tribe where it is still hand-embroidered and stitched or relying on generational talent to hand sew and expertly drape Italian silks into glamorous gowns. The pieces we bring to each Bynes New York collection are unlike any other clothes in the world. They carry the stories of the hands who made them and the care of the designer who dreamed them. They are made out of a love of beauty, skill, and culture, and they are made for you.