Sunday, February 23, 2014

Handcrafted Goods Are Trendy!

Initial: claremccrory27, Bag: leonestarr, Journal: SusanGreenBooks, Cat Bed: LoveCatCaves

Today's aspirational society is obsessed with "luxury" brands, "designer labels" and celebrity culture, and this impression is reinforced by constant media advertising campaigns from huge multi-national companies, backed by their huge marketing budgets, as they tempt us into buying their products. As a jewellery designer, I'm amazed at how expensive many of the "luxury" branded products are, simply because they are associated with a trendy fashion house or designer label - even though many of them have clearly been mass produced at negligible cost in a third world sweatshop...

A "luxury" item used to indicate something not merely expensive but also prized and covetable, a stylish non-essential, something indulgent, not widely available and of heirloom quality and supreme craftsmanship. But the term "luxury" has been grossly devalued in recent years - you now see the word everywhere and applied to all manner of everyday things, on everything from soap to chocolate, socks to lawnmowers, kitchen appliances to cruises

Handwoven Scarf: Tafipiri, Ceramics: Damsontreepottery, VW Campervan: GracesFavours, Painting: PiersFineArt

Moreover, some of these so-called luxury products are questionably luxurious. Recently an acquaintance was given a "luxury" branded bracelet with a price tag of well over £300/$500. This is twice as much as I charge for my individually handcrafted solid silver bracelets, the kind that takes me several days to make. So I was shocked to see the "luxury" item was only made of silver-plated base-metal, and that similar products were available on the high street for around £30/$50. To me, this doesn't represent great value for money

But whether luxury or not, there is a growing trend for excellent quality and superbly designed handmade products that will stand the test of time. While it is not a new phenomenon, since people have handcrafted goods throughout history, the handcrafted movement continues to grow apace. It appeals to customers who are tired of mass manufactured, throwaway items and now actively seek out individually handcrafted & fair trade goods over mass produced branded ones. Customers are now actively seeking stylish products, designed with integrity and beautifully crafted by hand. Hence the success of online sites such as Etsy, Zibbett and Folksy, all successful markets showcasing the creative skills of individual artisans

Dress: MonaBocca, Bookshelf: OakSlateDesign, Soap: SoapDragon, Sisal Rope Light: UniquesTR

And customers increasingly want to know how a handcrafted product has been made, and to learn more about the maker's process, inspiration, and about the maker themselves. According to Annabelle Campbell, of the Crafts Council, handcrafted goods are now seen as personal, authentic and genuine: "An object that has been touched by a human hand resonates in an age that many believe technology has rendered ubiquitous and anonymous.” At one time, handmade goods were regarded as amateur or second rate, but this is no longer the case. Sir Christopher Frayling notes: ”Crafts are finally being celebrated for being about today and tomorrow as well as yesterday. Crafts are now associated with urban living, interior design, fashion and contemporary design”

The best handcrafted items are, by their very nature, unique - and many of them are truly luxurious too. They can offer a great quality alternative to the designer label, individually made with skill and attention to detail. We are all individuals, and we have a choice - we can choose to buy on the high street, or we can support our artisans and purchase handcrafted! Please join me tomorrow for my first "Meet the Maker" feature with TheFeminineTouch, and discover a little more about some of our talented British handcrafters as we take a closer look at them, their crafts and their products
© Erika Price . All rights reserved.