THE PERKS OF HANDCRAFTING
Updated: Sep 6
The world of handcraft is a wondrous art, filled with infinite possibilities. We at Project Purkul simply funnel this boundless field to the narrow view we can provide through our products page. To help our customers take a peek into this art in product form, we emphasize on the customization of everything. Our artisans are highly skilled, and are able bring the any requests of yours to reality! But this all begs the question. How does handcrafting fair against the other, much more popular fabrication technique, mass production? Let us elaborate on it for you.
Mass production is a wildly successful and ubiquitous fabrication method that came to being in the latter half of the 18th century, debuting in the then Great Britain. It was used rather distastefully at the time (mainly to clothe their numerous slaves), but the technique was improved upon during the 19th and 20th century. It went on and become the standard method in consumer textile goods. Now-a-days, it is the De facto method of producing textiles. But is this a good thing? Is it really ok for an industry to rely on only one technique, that too one with (as you will see) such mixed consequences? Let us dive into the gritty details.
Mass production, by its very nature, is a quantity over quality technique. It was made with numbers in mind, and nothing more. It might be a brilliant method for something more apathetic and impersonal like standardized wear, but it isn’t the best for something like personal clothing in terms of expressiveness. Products like our Troublemakers Quilt would have been an impossibility for most but the exhaustingly rich to make through mass production. After all, the initial investment in mass producing a designer quilt like that is far too great. That holds true especially since the returns won’t be satisfactory, given it is a textile good that cannot be sold at a very high margin without special measures. However, this is where handcrafting simply beats mass production. The artisans can make the quilt with just a modicum of more difficulty as compared to a more mundane one. They can also make a very exact amount, reducing waste in the form of unsold products. And if the customer has any further requests on top of an already sophisticated order, the artisans would oblige (with adjustments to the fees, of course). But that’s not the end of the story1
Mass production has a sizeable downside of being… rather wasteful, to say the least. It gave rise to the style known as “Fast fashion”. Fast fashion is the business model of copying the most recent catwalks trends and “high fashion” design, making tonnes of units through mass production and selling them when the design is at its highest demand (i.e when the designs are still in fashion). The problem with this is that this business model incentivizes the customers to change wardrobes (often times a large part of it) to keep up with the trends in high fashion. This is as wasteful as you’d imagine, as people throw out perfectly wearable clothes every 6 months to follow some high fashion trends. We can provide you a single fact to really just show how bad the situation has gotten; the Atacama Desert in Chile is a world-famous dump of textile products from fast fashion. It has over 59,000 tons of textile waste collected up there. Although a good amount is recycled because of the global coverage it gets, this incident just shows the consequences of rampant and unfettered industrialization in the textile world.
Now, as much as we’d like to claim that handcrafting goods would mean that this would never lead to something like this, we cannot in good faith talk in such absolutes. We only highlighted these catastrophic failures to show the extent to which mass production could fall, and how in some aspects handcrafting is much more superior to mass production. At Project Purkul, the Artisans pour their heart and souls into every product as the toil over it over for weeks and months to end. Every design, every seam, every knot, all of it is made by an artisan here by hand with the outmost care. We like to believe that the soul in our products cannot be easily replicated by machinery, and that is the final and most important perk to handcrafted goods.
- Sidhant Tomar