Prince, in an interview when he was not Prince anymore, said he was still earning a good living without all the fame and record sales, by just playing to fans in small venues. The difference, he said, was he was no longer supporting a small army of tollkeepers—record companies and agents—extorting money from artists for fame.
Some years ago I was small-f famous as an author and speaker. I had written enough of interest to the world of bicycle planning, that bike planners wanted to hear me.
Who got their money? Not me! Most was syphoned by publishers, bookshops and the events industry. The guy pulling beers got paid before I did.
I know from that experience to be leery of all those who truly believe they are the fashion industry, even though none of them sew. I’m referring to fashion editors, accrediting bodies, peak bodies and fashion week organisers. Sadly, I’m also referring to graduates of courses in photography, advertising, hair and makeup, styling or anything like that, that a small brand can do for itself.
The administrators of the colleges, providing those courses, are taking young people’s money in exchange for false hope. We’re trending toward a future with fewer jobs in photo production. The largest retailers, Target and K-Mart, might employ some small crews, but the fashion industry, generally, is being dispersed.
The trend toward fragmentation started with the art world in the 60s. Since then, we've seen everything split. Whether they're making music or craft beer, indi micro producers have the lion's share of their markets. It's remarkable that the fashion industry stayed amalgamated for so long. Covid, as it has with so many things, just accelerated an inevitable trend.
The fashion industry’s mistake is in assuming that because slow fashion brand owners can sew, that they must be unsophisticated machinists, in need of peak bodies and brand makers. What they don't realise is that a lot of us who are manufacturing garments, actually started our careers in those fields. Like all white privileged people, we were told that darked skinned people in poor countries would do the manual labour. We would do the makeup, design and the hair. We were like Prince, when he thought he was above playing small venues. But like him we have seen how much more rewarding it is to work one-on-one with end-users of what we produce.
The photos accompanying this post were taken by my friend Kayla, on a day when I took some photos of Shelby Ray (instagram @shelbyray367) for her portfolion and so I could try out a new lens, before using it to shoot swimwear. Here are a few of those photos: