If you’re a young and emerging creative, then you’re no stranger to working for free. It’s unfortunately part of the process and learning curve, everybody does it and everybody will continue to do so long in to the future. (Hopefully by this point you’ll be rich and famous and can offer more wisdom than simply making cups of tea and paying for food in fancy restaurants with this mysterious ‘invaluable experience’ currency that seems to exist.) There’s an uprising element of punk DIY ethos and artists collectively supporting one another that is admired and cherished – photographers helping bands, designers helping photographers, bands helping designers – you get the idea. Young people are regenerating their communities and social scenes by doing it themselves again, from starting up record labels, fashion brands or photography studios to offer you the freshest, cutting edge ideas in terms of talent and originality. You can buy an item of clothing made by one of your friends because you’re now old enough and cool enough to know people that can actually MAKE clothes. With their own blood, sweat and tears. Move over Miss Trunchbull, I have my sights set on more than just a chocolate cake. Where’s the catch? The long and painstaking amount of time that it takes to design and make an item of clothing (WITH BARE HANDS! BLOOD! SWEAT! TEARS!) is a little more expensive, and here in lies the problem. Is it okay to spend £100 on a Beyoncé ticket yet expect to get in to young and much less established artists (£10) gig for free? Note: this is not about Beyoncé, I’ve heard that tears were shed at Hampden and it was all a very enlightening experience etc. etc., but you get the point that I’m trying to make…
…and that point is the importance of shopping local too. Yes, the home department of Urban Outfitters is something that dreams are made of, but rather than buying something that has taken inspiration from a particular piece and mass produced cheap copies, consider the individuals and brains behind the machine. Support the industry and gain a more genuine, unique and hand crafted item in the process. In light of the recent allegations against Zara for copying almost identical designs from an independent artist, with no money or lawyers to defend herself against such a massive company, not to mention the 30+ lawsuits against Forever 21 in 2016 alone for stealing the work of designers and passing it off as their own, there has never been a better time than now to support creatives across the globe and buy directly from the artist. Take for instance, the platform that you’re reading this from. Little Lies (wink, wink) is an independent store trying to do something fresh and original to buck the mass produced trend and bring together a truly unique and personalised collection of amazing pieces. Sourcing rare and exclusive homeware from individual fair trade suppliers and commissioning artists is at the heart of the company too, not to mention stocking young and independent brands where possible. Check out Hayley Scanlan and High Heels Suicide for examples of some seriously on trend statement pieces that you definitely wouldn’t find walking down Buchanan Street, and remember, nothing haunts you like the things you didn’t buy. Head to the featured artist section to check out up and coming bands and the blog to discover a platform for musicians, artists, bloggers and fashionistas alike. A line from a song by The Growlers states ‘the internet is bigger than Jesus and John Lennon’, so use it to your advantage and promote others where possible. Recognise the positive and creatively inspirational things that your friends are trying to do as they stick their middle finger up to the multinational companies that feed us as they try to establish themselves as an individual artist, brand or independent company.
- Hoodbats Death Party tee. £20.
- Isolated Heroes Mermaid Sequin Biker Jacket. £150.
- Hayley Scanlan Lace Up Scuba Swimsuit. £38.
- Fair Trade Morrocan Star Lantern. £26.
- Little Lies custom commission ‘Imagine’ Dreamcatcher. £20.
- Little Lies custom commission Bison Skull Print. £12.
Take for example my own personal experience as the editor of an independent fashion magazine. We were faced with every gasp and sigh in a 100-mile radius from people when we were unable to fund another issue due to the large print costs, as though through some personal failure of our own, we weren’t able to produce the magazine for free.
“Did you buy a copy of issue 1, 2 or 3?”
“Well, no…but it looked really cool.”
Et Voila. I rest my case.
Is there anything more frustrating or heart-breaking than the loss of a truly amazing designer, artist or musician because they simply couldn’t afford to fulfil their creative destiny? I shudder to think of the impact on the fashion industry if Vivienne Westwood continued her career as a primary school teacher because people were too busy buying mass produced (albeit beautiful) dresses from All Saints, or if Alex Turner gave up song writing because his friends couldn’t all fit on the guest list and were too busy saving up for the next Kanye West Album. Support is crucial in the early stages of a creative endeavour, so donate as little as £5 to a Kickstarter, buy an artist’s record on vinyl and generally encourage the people that are trying to do something, because a little goes a long way and you might end up with an original piece from a truly remarkable artist one day.
This is by no means a criticism of multinational companies (Topshop, I still really love you), but a positive shout out to all young designers, bands, and artists trying to make their mark in the world. We salute you! Statistics show that if we spent as little as an extra £100 a year on local businesses instead of chain stores, it would put £3million a year into the economy and create thousands of creative jobs in the process. So next time you’re shopping on the high street, swap the Primark rip off ‘band’ t shirt (sported mainly by people who think Nirvana refers to paradise and that ACDC is a comic book franchise) and instead redirect yourself to Hoodbats to seriously improve your wardrobe in the process. Explore the vast plethora of unique and up and coming independent designers that are readily available at your fingertips. Let’s face it, you’re less likely to turn up in the same outfit as every other Tom, Dick and Harry if you go for the likes of an Isolated Heroes Mermaid Sequin Biker Jacket, unless of course you’re in the same room as Miley Cyrus. I seriously think we could all live with that, couldn’t we?