Use and Throw

Every time a trend moves very far in one direction, a counterweight pushes in the other. When disposable becomes the rage, products that endure suddenly appear. When ‘new age’ becomes too extreme, retro returns. Consumers who can choose from the latest and the glitziest pine for a style that is not cutting edge but has the comfort of being familiar and well worn. Tamara Fogle moved out of her job as a freelance interiors stylist to create women’s handbags crafted and manufactured entirely in Britain since 2007. In just four years, her bags are a hit with specialty boutiques stocking and selling them. She makes the ‘Made In the British Isles’ her point of difference when others outsource to cut costs. She builds on the national pride of reviving British craftsmanship and evidently, it strikes a chord with her buyers. It’s not a bag for just this trend or season, it makes a statement beyond fashion.

On the other hand Fabindia made Indian ethnic wear and handicrafts fashionable. Started 50 years ago, they retailed handwoven and hand printed fabrics made by traditional Indian techniques. They helped these arts and artisans survive by paying a fair wage and selling at a tidy profit. From garments and home linen, they expanded the line to personal care products like soap and moisturisers as well as organic food products. Like honey with the faint flavors of litchi – since bees feed only on the nectar from litchi flowers. Growing to encompass over 40,000 craftspersons based in rural India, they provide urban Indians with a wealth of myriad textures and designs that symbolise the variety and ingenuity of the country.

Fuji could have explored the next level in smooth moulded curves with their latest digital camera, the Fuji FinePix x100. Instead, they chose to go in the other direction with the leathery look of old world cameras. Priced at over a $1000, they cannot manufacture enough to meet the demand. And the 70s look is back in oversized sunglasses– with pointy edges and motifs on the frame included. When Alvin Toffler wrote Future Shock, he envisaged the inevitable progression towards use and throw – believing that we would quickly tire of whatever we used. And while that seems true of mobile phones and laptops, it looks like there are areas where nostalgia has a pretty tight grip.