Friday 2 August 2019

So many chinamen to kill

Last night I got a kindly rejection email from the Slow Fashion Market organisers for their upcoming Sydney market at Petersham Town Hall on Sept 14th. I have also been declined for their Melbourne and Canberra events earlier this year. The same form letter always arrives referring to "unprecedented amounts of applications, far in excess of the stall spots we have" and I get the thumbs down. Perhaps one day there will less applications than spots and I'll get in?

Strangely enough, though I've been turned down for 100% of all applications I've made in 11 years for markets in Sydney, Newcastle, Melbourne and Canberra I just get madder and madder rather than blase. All these are curated artisan markets boasting of their committment to sustainability and ethical making but I'm always baffled when making the applications to be asked stuff like this...
  • Having an emphasis on quality, durability and robustness of garments and accessories.
  • Keeping the number of new styles and collections being introduce each year low and slow.
  • The label is a small-medium business, not a corporation.
  • Incorporating sustainable or locally sourced materials that are low/no toxins and pesticides.
  • The people making your clothing are paid fair wages for their labour.
  • Your workers are in safe work environments (no sweatshops, child labour, slavery and mistreatment of workers).
  • Having an ethical mission statement for your fashion business.

Questions like the 2nd and 3rd ones always make me roll my eyes and laugh out loud  - new styles? collections!!! Small - medium business!! fair wages...??!! 

Duhhhh....what a lot of shit this is. How can I be any more sustainable when I use second hand clothes and fabrics sourced from charity shops. Every individual garment is designed, cut by hand and sewed by me. I don't have any "people or children" working for me, I am the solitary sweat shop slave doing the whole shebang. Regrettably this slave doesn't get paid at all, let alone a "fair wage".

Then I go to these markets and insult is added to injury that they are full of stuff manufactured by outworkers from imported new textiles.

You know that old saying about "must have killed a lot of Chinamen in my last life" when people laughingly refer to their bad luck? Well....hahahahaa!!... I have a lot of Chinamen I would like to kill right now, in this life. 

How did I come to be living in this parallel universe where apparently some clothing manufacturers in China think 5 of my original garments are wonderful enough that they appropriated the photographic images (pictures taken by me - as if I could afford a professional photographer) from my blog to put them in their internet and instagram shops pretending that this is the product they're selling? Perhaps hundreds or thousands of women in Europe and America are buying these garments and sending money to those Chinamen. Perhaps the Chinamen are making 10s or 100s of thousands of dollars from my creative works? 

Back here on the farm in Australia I apply to markets 4-10 times a year and in 11 years no one thinks that same creative production is good enough? 

I don't whether to laugh, cry or hang myself. I sure as hell don't feel like going to my studio and make more stuff that isn't good enough for Australian markets but good enough for Chinamen to steal.


Last week I showed this picture on Instagram of a pile of stuff I planned to make into something.

yes, a bit of wool is sticking out of the hole in my Ugg boots. I hope to have enough money to buy a new pair next Winter.

Some of the fabrics were printed

Sorry, the picture is sideways and the one above that hasn't been cropped. I usually take time to prepare my blog pictures to present nicely but I'm feeling so despondent today I really can't be bothered.

Then I spent 22 hours cutting and making this garment.



front neck detail

back neck detail

this section was stenciled then reverse appliqued

The detailed section in the picture above is reverse applique. I am asking Aus$230 plus postage if you would like to buy this fantastic original piece of wearable art. However in a months time Tusancat and the various other Chinamen will be faking a copy of this for $78.00$38.00!!! so why bother...?

I also hope the Chinamen will be grateful for my kindness in showing both the front and back of the garment to help them out with their next fakery. In their webshops they never show the back of the garments because unless a picture of it was shown on my blog they don't know what that looks like. I am almost intrigued enough to want to buy one of my own fakes just to find out what they do for the back. 

Wednesday 31 July 2019

rainbows and storms

I had to stop on the roadside outside of Tamworth heading home about 3pm yesterday to take a picture of this rainbow.

I had to take Doris to Tamworth yesterday for a service. The old girl was seized up from overwork. Doris is my Janome 6600 sewing machine I've thrashed like sweatshop slave for 10 years and she is still going strong. Like most of these electronic machines the computer chip will likely die before I can wear out the mechanism. And when her eye blinks out I'll be forced to buy a new sewing machine because the manufacturers won't provide parts for an older model and this kind of forced obsolescence is relied upon as part of their business model to keep profitable. No point is making a sewing machine so sturdy it will last for the lifetime of the buyer!...though it would be entirely possible to do so.

I'm fed up and depressed about so much cynical capitalism in the world. My kneejerk reaction when I'm mugged and robbed like what those Chinese manufacturers are doing to small artisans is to fight back. I'm disgusted at all the energy and planning these fraudsters put into keeping themselves ahead of being stopped by having maybe 50 different business names. In this way they can duck, weave and re-invent themselves every week. Even before one "business" is stopped advertising on social media due to their copyright infringements another business has already spawned itself selling the same product. If they put all that energy into creating their own designs then they wouldn't need to appropriate the creative production of others. Or how about buying the design and paying for a license? (neither of which I would do anyway because I don't support the mass production business model).

Here are pictures of the completed skirt I was upcycling from used sheets, front and back with some close ups.

Meantime, here I sit in my pyjamas at 10am in the morning wondering if I should bother to get dressed and go down to the studio to create another design they can steal? Will I see my Freda Jacket for sale on Instagram next month for US79.00 $38.00! 

My annual insurance premium is due, which I need to maintain because I have an open studio so that members of the public can come into and watch me work. It also covers me for when I teach at outside venues and for having market stalls. I get a really good price for artist insurance through NAVA (National Association of Visual Artists) it is only about Aus$300. But I don't have that much money at this time to pay for it. The other thing I'd like to spend money on this month is to do the online sashiko and boro stitching course with amazing Japanese textile artist Atsushi Futatsuya, but I can't afford that either.

When I got Doris serviced the repair lady said all I needed to do was use better quality thread on my bobbin. There wasn't anything wrong with Doris, just the cheap shitty thread which is all I can afford was breaking all the time. With great relief I choofed off to Spotlight to get some good thread. Sadly, in Australia, we don't have much choice in the field of good quality sewing thread. The Birch haberdashery supply company has gradually eased out most of the competitors and operates a virtual monopoly for high quality sewing thread with their German Guterman product.

The very patient Spotlight employee added this up several times to keep getting the same total as I nearly had a heart attack that these 1000m reels of Guterman thread are Aus$23.00 each. FUCK!!! 3 cones of overlocker thread (which was the crap thread I'd been using on the bobbin that was making Doris seize), 1 small reel  and 9 spools of Guterman added up to $293. Its a good month when I make that much money.

How much do people pay for a 1000m reel of Guterman sewing thread in other countries?

So no wonder I get all queasy and despondent when some lazy hyena in China is visiting my blog to steal my creative output. I might even be better off financially being a sweat shop slave in one of their factories!

Though I'm now spending money on my credit card I indulged in a bit of shopping therapy spending $45 buying that great stack of unused fabric remnants from my favourite charity shop in Tamworth. Perhaps I'll make some gorgeous thing that the Chinese fraudsters can copy to resell as one of their hideous rags.

Tuesday 30 July 2019

Rip and tear

Ugh, these fraudsters have no limit to what they will steal. This morning I found another of my garments is being advertised by a Chinese rip-off seller. Once again this is my picture they have lifted from a blog post. Heaven knows what the back of this coat will look like. I didn't help them out by showing that. Also their contempt for copyright law has been compounded by using that print on the left side of the coat. That beautiful fabric print is a cloth I designed with my digital artwork and is for sale in my Spoonflower shop.

Boho Banjo cloth shop on Spoonflower

Can I just remind everybody - if you buy from these websites you won't be getting what is in the picture. The garment in the picture being used in the Barbring promotion was a coat I made about a year ago that was sold to a very discerning local buyer who came into my studio. It was - like everything I make - a one of a kind original garment made by me. I am a textile artist and don't make more than 1 of each thing. I don't support mass manufacturing of clothing and it sickens me to see these thieves enrich themselves from my creative output when they represent everything I try to subvert.

ALL the garments advertised on these Chinese websites are stolen from other makers. These websites aren't taking pictures of their product. The pictures are appropriated from the original makers and you won't be getting what is in the picture but a poorly made and cheap copy. The fabric of the copy will be printed with a photographic reproduction of what you see in the picture but won't be patched, appliqued, printed and stitched as in the pirated pictures.


Monday 29 July 2019

THIS IS appropriation...

Somebody emailed me last night to warn me one of my garments had been appropriated and was for sale on a Chinese website -

The picture of my jacket they are featuring in their website promotion has been lifted directly from one of my blog posts on December 18th last year. It has been altered in their version by elongating the picture from the original hip length to thigh length.

I haven't sold this jacket so I took a picture of it this morning to show you. The cover page of todays Sydney Morning Herald is stuck behind it....incidentally with a front page news item about Chinese involvement in gambling fraud...

December 18th blog post  - the picture used by Tusancat is the one in this blog post, elongated somewhat. Amusingly they are also offering it in 5 more colour versions which have been achieved by changing the colour balance in Photoshop.

This is a screenshot of the ripped off version by "Tusancat" currently being advertised on instagram....available for a mere US$42.

I've already heard from one lady who checked out this garment when it came up on her instagram feed, thinking it was so beautiful she might buy it.

Regrettably if she had bought it I can guarantee she would have been disappointed -  possibly even horrified at the cheap and nasty reproduction she'd paid for. 

The jacket I made was an upcycle, existing second hand item bought from Vinnies for $6. I covered the surface with appliques cut from my hand prints, patchwork and applied lots of elaborate stitching. The whole process to transform it took about 18 hours. The rip-off version you would receive from Tusancat will be a photographic reproduction of the surface, not the textured, patched and hand printed garment shown in the picture.

I tried to take some photos this morning which better show the surface of my original.


I'm also aware that one of my PDF patterns, the "Pheenie" dress is being manufactured at scale and sold by a Chinese clothing manufacturer. That doesn't particularly bother me as after 35 years in the clothing and textile world I'm well aware there is no legal protection to be enforced that could stop it. 

In truth I feel pretty blase about both my pattern and original item of art to wear clothing being expropriated, rather than angry or emotional. My first experience of having a print and clothing design stolen and reproduced was 30 years ago, when I walked into a shop to be surrounded by 200 dresses reproduced exactly from my original garment but in 5 different sizes. Ironically the copier claimed she thought the dress she copied was a no-name brand from Asia.

I'm not the only designer or textile artist being appropriated in this way currently. In fact, in a sardonic way I feel humbled to join the company of many famous and way more well known clothing brands. These advertisements started appearing on instagram about 3 months ago. Direct rip-offs from Magnolia Pearl and fellow Australian textile artist India Flint along with many, many more designers than that....dozens. I'm choosing not to name more than these 2 here. In all cases the copyists use the original pictures from the designer, which is another level of copyright violation on top of what they already do. Chinese businesses like Tusancat, Barbring, Cocochic + + + who are doing this obviously won't be drawing the line at exploiting the sewing businesses who do their manufacturing.

And that is what shits me the most about what these people are doing. The reality is they won't be affecting my income much as I only make and sell one-of-a-kind garments and aren't a "manufacturer" of any level. I work alone and don't have a single outworker. 

What super, super massively pisses me off is that these business operators are stealing my original concepts and totally subverting everything I try to stand for. Most of my work is made from upcycled used garments and discarded fabrics because I'm not supporting the polluting industry that keeps on churning out gazillions of metres of fabric and fast fashion disposable clothes every day. A wasteful, ignorant and arrogant industry that carelessly uses up resources and pollutes our shared environment for the financial enrichment of a small number of business owners, who aren't the ones doing the actual work of design or production. The ethical and moral vacuity which allows them to feel entitled to appropriate the visions and productions of genuine creatives extends to exploiting the labours of the women who work in third world clothing manufacturing. 

I'm appalled to have my work taken in this way to do all these things I actively work against -

1)  sweat shop working conditions  - low wages, long working hours
2)  lions share of the profits going to enrich a small number of business owners
3)  mass manufacturing that uses up lots of resources (clean water, soil nutrients, pollution from needlessly transporting stuff out of local zones and all around the planet....)
4)  mass manufacturing practices of the fashion industry create lots of wastage by over production
5)  the polluting side effects from the chemicals used in textile manufacturing and printing

Please help to stop these companies from making their exploitation profitable by not buying any of their product and letting everybody you know on all social media channels the immoral and fraudulent basis of how they operate.

Here are some simple suggestions if you want to wear clothing that minimises the harm done to others and our shared environment

DON'T BUY CHEAP SHIT MASS MANUFACTURED CLOTHING  (especially if made in 3rd world countries)

 Lastly...I haven't sold this beautiful hand made jacket and are only asking a measly Aus$225 plus postage for it. PM me if you want to know the measurements. I accept payment by Paypal only.