Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Heirloom-quality fashion?

A few weeks ago, I went to hear some of the Cooper-Hewitt's Annual Design Award Winners speak about their work. Although the Fashion Design Winners, Rodarte, were not on the panel, I couldn't help but apply many of the other winners' words to the fashion world.

At one point, Tom Dair of Smart Design, the Product Design Winner, mentioned his desire to create "heirloom-quality products," and gave the example of a wristwatch that one can pass along from generation to generation— a product that appreciates in value over time. This may seem like a strange thing for a Product Designer to strive for, because in today's world, New has somehow come to equal Better. Why else would millions of people upgrade to an iPhone 4, when they already have a phone that works perfectly well (if not better)?!

In fashion, it's the same. We dismiss pieces as "last season" and fill our shopping bags with the latest trends. But wouldn't it be better, and economically smarter, to stock our closets with "heirloom-quality" clothing?

What a brilliant idea! I'll just buy a bag that will look chic for the rest of my life, and my kids' lives, too. Now, if you would be so kind as to point me in the direction of that store that only sells beautifully-made pieces that are stylish for eternity. Hmm . . .

While it's not hard to identify a piece of clothing that's well-made, it's impossible to predict whether it's something future generations will love (a trench coat) or laugh at (bell bottoms). I guess all we can do as stewards of future fashion is seek out quality for our closets, and care for the items we love, as if we are planning to pass them on.

I'm a firm believer in mending my clothing and, especially, shoe repairs. When the heels start to wear, I get them replaced before they turn into tap shoes (we all know that painful sound heels make when they wear down to the metal!) I also have my shoe guy put rubber soles on my shoes to extend their life.

Last week, I got 4 pairs of shoes repaired. They got new heels, new soles, and I even had one blister-inducing pair of stilettos stretched to fit better.

The ultimate miracle was a pair of abused Miu Miu flats that I wish I'd taken a "before photo" of. The bottoms were stuck with pieces of gravel from walking down a rain-wet road after a wedding, and the leather on the heels looked like it was chewed by a particularly ferocious puppy.

When I picked them up, I couldn't believe my eyes.
For about $30 a pair, I now have 4 pairs of virtually new shoes.

Who knows if my newly repaired shoes will earn a place of honor in my future Granddaughter's closet, or will just be something she'll just crack up over. Grandma Catherine! Booties?!? But I plan on keeping my beloved shoes wearable as long as I can, if not for the next generation, then at least for myself.

(Shoe repair photos © Littlehouse of Style)


ringtales said...

I bought second hand, a pair of handmade Italian patent and suede high heeled boots that have a winter lining by Loriblu they were just missing a tap on one of the heels, but were otherwise in stellar condition, all for the grand price of $5!
I have since had the heel replaced.
I wish there was a way to post a picture in the comments. They are absolutely stunning and even quite comfortable. I hope i do have them forever.

Fashionistable said...

I have a pair of heirloom shoes my mum wore in the 60's It does work. Xxxx


If you love fashion and shoes, maybe you colu be interested to my blog.

u'r welcome


Zarna said...

i love the idea of heirloom pieces! i need to get a few of my shoes resoled as well and i think you've inspired me to go out and do just that!


the girls collective [ ガールズ コレクティブ] said...

amazing! you've definitely inspired me to get my shoes/clothes repaired! thanks!

Mary Ko. said...

those givenchy heels are my most favs!
have them in pink:)

Nice blog <3


The Fashion Buzz said...

These shoes are gorgeous, we want them all!

L'age moyen said...

I'd just been wondering about a pair of Ralph Lauren boots I love but which have a heel that if you don't make contact with the ground in just the right way, you go for a big, and not-so-elegant slide. I thought there was no way I could have the heel replaced without ruining the boots but you've inspired me to give it a go. Thanks!!

Rafael Franco said...

I LOVE ALL THE SHOES!!! Really beautiful.

kisses from Brazil*


Becca said...

Thanks for this post. Have a happy holiday season!

Sale Shoes said...

I love the idea of selling used shoes . I think thats a good idea. Just make sure they are in good condition. ;)