Friday, August 10, 2012

Fashioning My Cyber Microcosm: Beating The Dead Horse to a Bloody Pulp; The Handmade Dilemma

A question artists and professional crafters alike face:

"Why is handmade so expensive?"

The answer is both simple and complicated.

To start, aside from the unique and curious, we offer an ideal to the consumer. And that ideal is conscientiousness and quality.
It's so easy to go into a large retail store and pay $10 for a t-shirt, and justify its low quality by saying "well I only paid X amount so who cares?"
It is you, the consumer, who ultimately suffers. Mass produced items aren't intended to last because the companies are relying on that mentality so you'll buy two or three of the same item "just in case".
Not to mention the amount of wasted raw materials and money that inevitably comes with this type of thinking.

To put the term 'handmade' into perspective, take a look at your local museum. Notice anything about the historical fashions?
It's still perfectly preserved after all these years!
These were all handcrafted and hand tailored, once upon a time. They were likely passed down from generation to generation, enduring countless wears and harsh elements (like perhaps a dusty trunk) until finding itself inside that museum, and because the artisans of old took such pride in the quality of what they did, their work transcends even their lives and perhaps our own, for all of us to admire for many years to come.

These days, companies focus on the output and revenue; how fast and how cheaply they can make the most of profits. If attention to detail was the focus, I believe that the world will see products differently-- respect and true admiration for new products would be commonplace.

So why is handmade expensive?

It really boils down to quality and self-worth of the artisan/artist's time.

Artisans are often lead to believe that their prices are "too high" by the average consumer.
The average consumer is lead to believe that all products inevitably fail and that customer service is a four letter word by large conglomerates.

Most people are hesitant to give "handmade" a chance because of what mass production has done to their thinking. When you buy handmade, you're not only ensuring yourself of quality and uniqueness, you're also ensuring that the money goes to the person whom took the time and effort to learn and create it. You're essentially thanking them for their efforts, and making sure that they can keep producing that product for as long as they can.
When you make a remark about how "expensive" it is, you are belittling those efforts and the imagination and creativity it took to produce it, putting aside the fact that high quality materials are never cheap.

If just anyone could make and imagine anything, then there would be absolutely no need for stores.
If just any company could produce high quality conscientiously sourced products, you might find that everything is "expensive".

All that said, I understand that money is naturally very tight for most, which breeds this unjustified resentment towards handmade. But please, make yourself aware of all this before remarking again about "how expensive" it is.

Stop the 'handmade' stigma. Support your local artisans and artists and show them some love and appreciation!


  1. What a lovely article with great points! I wish that more people could think like this ..

    1. Thank you!
      As an artisan myself, I am greatly offended and saddened that so many people have taken these ideals for granted. I, too, wish that people would become more understanding.

  2. I agree with you on everything. I would also like to add that artisans do not have all the money that big companies can invest and often do not need to buy stocks of stuff (which may lower the prices and increment the profit), so s/he risks a lot more of his/her resources in his/her work, and therefore needs to rise the prices a little bit.
    And then there is all the extra value that comes from uniqueness, care for the details, love for one's one work, et cetera.

    1. Exactly!
      Normally if I don't have the money to buy something I want, I save up for it; I consider it a long term investment in my wardrobe because all custom clothes last me years and years and many more in the future!


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