If you love fashion, you’ve probably already gotten over the idea that the fashion industry is an evil place where all designers are treated unfairly and driven to insanity. You know how it works: everyone has a designer who formerly worked for fashion companies that they trust, and this person’s designs are so good, you can’t wait to get them into your closet. And that’s just the fashion world: if you’re into design, you can easily find and support independent designers and brands that do amazing things. So, why should we care about independent fashion designers?
Designers are the ones putting their hearts and souls into their work, but how many of them are taken advantage of? The answer is painfully obvious: almost none. The reasons designers are unable to get the rights to their creations are varied, but the fact remains that they are not adequately compensated, which is where you come in.
The independent designers that we’ve come to know and love are the ones that design for us, and they’re the ones that we feel proud of when we buy their products. They’re the ones that we know care about quality and fair pricing. But it’s a hard road to make a living building a brand people love.
In this age of mass-produced goods, it can be hard to tell who makes your favorite products. But the truth is, the products you love weren’t created by a faceless corporation any more than they were designed by a faceless committee. Most companies that produce your favorite products have small groups of designers, engineers, and marketers who work together to create amazing stuff. And, on top of that, these designers, engineers, and marketers are just as passionate about what they’re doing as you are.
The current cultural landscape is littered with well-known brands that many consider being a microcosm of “fast fashion.” Many of these companies have one or two designers that work for them and then a whole staff of workers that use the designs to produce various products for the brand. Supporting independent designers is important because if these designers don’t have the means to produce their designs, they become unprotected against the whims of the market, which will likely kill off their designs.
It’s hard to believe that almost 20 years have passed since the birth of the first big wave of internet startups. Today, the internet has evolved into an industry that is worth hundreds of billions of dollars. A tremendous amount of that value is generated by the design of the websites that each of these companies curate.
Design is everywhere; we all rely on it for our work and play, fashion, fashion accessories, whatever. It doesn’t have to be complicated. When we talk about supporting independent designers, we usually think about the way we shop, but what we don’t consider is the role design plays in how we live our lives. Design is everywhere, and we never see it without it influencing everything we do. We are constantly surrounded by design from the clothes we wear and the gadgets we use from gathering with friends and family. Design is not only an aesthetic experience—it is an essential part of how we live our lives.
There are countless reasons to support independent design. For one, independent designers are better equipped to be innovative, grow their brands, and continue to innovate without the intimidation of big-name companies trying to take over their success. Independent designers have the freedom to pick their markets, so they can work in communities that are better suited for their businesses instead of being forced to follow the recommendations of their peers.
Supporting independent designers means more than just purchasing a product, checking out a website, and sending a tweet to a designer. It also takes time to ask the right questions. Why did this designer choose a certain font? What was the inspiration behind the design? How does this design translate to an apparel piece? These are all questions designed to inspire.
The value of supporting independent designers cannot be measured by any metric. It’s not an immediate financial impact, but the long-term impact is the most powerful thing you can get from buying things made by independent, small business owners.