Crochet and fast fashion – why it’s not a good thing!

An article from the Daily Mail was shared with me the other day about the upsurge of crochet in fashion. The person who shared it with me thought I would like it because well ‘crochet’, and also because it suggested crochet clothing is back on trend.

Example of crochet in fashion; a woman sits on the floor with her arm on a chair, she is holding a straw hat over her eyes and she is wearing a white crocheted dress.
© Adobe Stock Image

Now I’m interested in all things crochet, and it was lovely to be thought of in terms of having something shared with me, but I found myself going back to the person to explain why crochet in fast fashion, in the type of clothing and accessories you’d find in a high street shop, isn’t a good thing. Then it got me thinking that it might be useful to expand what I said in a blog post so I could share the reasons why crochet and fast fashion isn’t a good mix – so here’s my two pennith-worth.

From funky summer tops, boho cardigans and eclectic patterned bucket hats, when the sun starts shining, then you can be sure that crochet will make an appearance. Now it’s a bit double edged, it’s potentially great that are things that might help reinvigorate the craft especially with a younger generation. It doesn’t hurt to transform what was once viewed as a pastime more fit for your granny into a vibrant expression of style – but we want more people to learn how to make their own items, rather than buy it in a high street shop. 

Example of crochet in fashion; a woman stands near an ocean wearing a crocheted bikini top and jewellery.
© Adobe Stock Image

Here’s the main problem; crochet can’t be created on a machine in a factory. It’s not like knitting or sewing, the stitches needed to create a crochet fabric are just too complicated for a machine to replicate. Which makes us folks that do crochet supremely clever (but you knew that already right!).

So every time that a crocheted item is purchased from a high street shop there has got to be an actual crocheter behind it. Sadly it’s most likely a person working 14-16 hours a day, 7 days a week and unfortunately, the majority of these crocheters are likely to be women and children. High street brands that sell crochet bags and tops etc are often dramatically underpaying workers to produce these items by hand. This isn’t just hearsay — French prosecutors have opened an investigation into several well-known fashion companies, over suspicions of slave labour.

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You can also see it in the cost of the items; crocheted pieces on the high street are retailing for eye-bulging low prices — crocheted tops sell for as little as £4. When you take into account, the making, packing and shipping costs of the garment, the ethics of such clothing becomes very worrying. If you think about how long it must have taken to make the top, and the end price – what must that crocheter be paid for their work in return?

And there’s another knock on effect – when consumers see such low prices associated with crocheted products, its bound to devalue the entire craft. People become less willing to pay for the deservedly high prices for crochet products made ethically by individuals running small businesses.

Example of crochet in fashion, a woman is holding a bright yellow crocheted bag which has a gold chain link strap.
© Adobe Stock Image

Add to the fact that many Indie designers have repeatedly called out brands for allegedly selling knockoffs of their designs. Customers then purchase from these large brands totally oblivious to the fact that it’s a stolen design.

It’s hard to appreciate how much work goes into the designing, but I can assure you, it’s A LOT. So it’s devastating when this sort of thing happens – and the consequence of this is frustrated designers. Then what if these designers decide to give up? Well then we potentially get less new and innovative designs to enjoy.

Example of crochet in fashion; a woman is wearing a colourful granny square vest top in a woodland setting.
© Adobe Stock Image

Finally there’s also the huge problem with the fast fashion industry and its negative impact on the environment. The materials that are being used are simply not made to last; they are designed to be worn for a single season and then disposed of which results in masses of textile waste ending up as landfill and microplastics filling our oceans.

Now I don’t think sadly that this sort of thing is going to stop, but raising awareness of this issue can only be a good thing. I’m also hoping that the rise in the number of people actually learning to crochet and make their own pieces will lead to more and more people realising that crochet and fast fashion just isn’t a good thing.

Example of crochet in fashion. Image of a fashion spread of summery clothing and accessories. It includes, amongst other things, a crocheted hat, earings, top and bag.
© Adobe Stock Image

There are somethings we can do to help lessen the strain of crocheted garments in circulation. We can obviously try to minimise our own contribution to harm – and also mention it to our friends and family. 

And making your own crochet items is arguably the best way to keep the craft alive but if this isn’t an option for you, then why not buy from independent crochet businesses (on places like Instagram, Depop or Etsy) rather than from fast fashion retailers. If you don’t have the funds to support small businesses in a financial way you could always support them through sharing their work on social media or recommending their stores to other people.  

Close up of a pair of hands crocheting with cream coloured yarn.
© Adobe Stock Image

Did you find this article interesting? Do you have any thoughts about crochet in fast fashion? I’d love to hear about it – let me know in the comments below.

Until next time folks! Happy hooking, keep calm and crochet on my friends xx

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9 thoughts on “Crochet and fast fashion – why it’s not a good thing!

  1. Absolutely true. I have always had this thought when I see a crocheted piece available in the market – is the person who made this being paid properly. Especially in countries like India, the people into native crafts are exploited by middlemen who gain huge profits. Fortunately, there are multiple community workers who are helping them to earn the right values for their handwork/ hard work.

  2. I completely agree with you. It’s exciting to see crochet get the attention it deserves, but it’s heartbreaking that fast fashion is doing such a disservice to crafters and the craft itself. With money being tight for quite some time now, it seems like crafters have already spent so much time justifying their prices, but fast fashion jumps in with such ridiculously low prices and compounds the issue. And it’s awful to know that there are people making next to nothing for their skilled work for these brands.

  3. You are so right. I teach crochet, because I can’t make my patterns to sell. I crocheted coatigan a couple of years ago and could have sold it several times over until I explained how much the yarn cost and how long it took to make. A price of £500 would have paid for the yarn and given me less than £2.00 an hour for my time.

  4. I would never buy any crocheted item from a shop for this very reason. I know how long it takes to make a garment and the cost of the yarn, and I really don’t want the craft devalued the way it is being at the moment. There really does need to be a global investigation into how crocheted garments are able to be sold so cheaply.

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