I rode past a shop window the other day that featured a stunning coat. Big swishy skirt, interesting asymmetrical details, graphic fabric. Even though I saw but a glimpse of it as I zzzzzooooooomed past on my pushy, I knew I was going back for a stickybeak, even though I knew it would be frightfully expensive.
In person the coat’s bones were lovely. But the fabric felt awful: rugh and crispy, like cheap quilt batting. The tag inside confirmed the awful truth: 100% polyester. Jeebus, I thought. It’s $600. Why would anyone spend that much on a plastic coat? Why would anyone spend that much time tailoring a plastic coat that would pill and sweat and smell like hydrocarbons? I tried it on to check out how it looked on me (and for a sneaky inspection typical to us seamsters to make mad mental notes about how to replicate things at a fraction of the cost) and the cheerful and helpful shop staffer breezed over to tell me I looked marvellous. (I didn’t, really.) She cooed about the coat and asked what I thought.
“To be completely honest,” I said, thinking perhaps this was constructive criticism that would help a small fashion label, “I’m disappointed that it’s polyester.”
She was utterly flummoxed. “Oh, you want a natural fibre? Here’s a cotton cardigan…”
“No thanks. I’m interested in coats, but I would never pay $600 for a polyester coat. ”
She struggled to think of something to say. “Our clothes are made locally in very limited quantities…” and she trailed off to help someone else.