Yesterday I wore a dress I bought in Spain and wondered why I can’t find anything as nice here in the U.S. This imagined conversation is what followed–between me and the people who decide what kind of dresses will fill the U.S. stores. I’ve dubbed these decision makers the “American dress manufacturers,” and the communications side of my brain and the business side of my brain (the sides where I earned degrees, ya’ll) hashed out why we can’t have nice things like well-made dresses with pockets. All fictional, mind you, all fictional.
Me: Hi. So, the dress I wore yesterday? That’s a dress: well-made, quality materials, nice cut. Could you please make dresses like these in America?
American dress manufacturers: No.
Me: Why ever not??
ADM: Simple. Women don’t want dresses like that. Look around you the next time you’re out. Are the women wearing dresses or jeans?
Me: Not a good reason.
ADM: Ha. Hahahaha. What makes you think women want dresses?
Me: Well, I walked all around the city yesterday, and all day long women approached me and told me how much they loved the dress, and I told them I loved it, too. We all commiserated that clothes like that one (which I bought in Spain) aren’t available here in the U.S. Perhaps the reason women don’t wear dresses is because they’re not given dresses they like.
ADM: What exactly about the dress makes it different than U.S. dresses?
Me: Well, for one, the quality of the fabric. I think it’s a nice polyester/ cotton blend which hangs beautifully and I’ll never be required to iron. Ever. I can just pull it out of a laundry basket and I’ll be good to go. It’s a thicker weight than anything I can find here, more apt to last.
ADM: More apt then say, Forever 21, whose clothing we make out of a paper/ fiber hybrid?
Me: Exactly. Why can’t you make dresses (and skirts, for that matter) out of better materials?
ADM: Because, frankly, most people don’t give a hoot about fiber content. You know what they give a hoot about? Sales. And having a closest full of clothes. And going shopping. And we’ve tricked people into wanting to wear the season’s latest “styles” so people would rather accumulate many cheap clothes they can later discard for newer cheap clothes than invest in something they can have for years.
Me: That seems…brilliant on your part.
ADM: You bet. And we’ll even shame you a bit, Nell. We saw you wear that dress to two weddings last year.
Me: *blush.* At least there was no guest overlap.
ADM: Shame shame shame.
Me: Well, fine! And, back on topic! If you won’t give us nice fiber, could you at least make the cut of the dresses more flattering? More detailed?
ADM: Ha. hahaha. I’m laughing at you. Of course not!
Me: But why?
ADM: Because. The material is cheap for the consumer (you) and the simplified fitting means we can fit more body-shapes with one singular pattern and ship more products of the same pattern to the store. Say there’s a woman your waist-size but six inches taller. If we were worried about fit, we’d make you each a different dress to fit your torsos. But, we’re not, so we’ll make a more shapeless dress and sell it to more shapes. More sold dresses means more money for us! Win win!
Me: Well, could you add flattering embellishments so they look more detailed?
ADM: Ha! No. What for? So there are more costs on our side??
Me: Gahhhh! Well, can we at least have pockets on our dresses?
ADM: HA! No!
Me: But why??
ADM:: All of the above reasons PLUS, I don’t care about you.
ADM: Ha! Hahahaha! And I’m signing off. But, just because I’m signing off doesn’t mean I’ve stopped laughing at you.
And that, my friends, is why we can’t have nice things.