By Dana Woods | December 1, 2020
In Support of Our Local Communities
Costume designers spent $900 million in costume-related purchases for television and film production during 2019, according to conservative estimates. Although we’ve probably never thought about it, every dollar we spend with our vendors helps to pay the salaries of their employees, support studio services, shoe repair, and other essentials that we rely on to do our work. Shopping locally helps our community by putting money directly back into the community. A societal shift to online shopping, coupled with the devastating effect of the COVID pandemic on brick-and-mortar stores, has fundamentally changed our shopping habits.
Online shopping has been a boon for us for several years now. It allows us to multitask, but its usefulness can be a double-edged sword. It also means that people don’t have to plan carefully, and many times they do not. The time we have to realize our goals for a project is shorter. Changes are made at the last minute and those affected by changes are expected to pivot too. Instead of giving us more time, online ordering and technology allow us to work harder and longer to keep up with an increasing pace.
As costume designers, we can be leaders in conscious consumerism, a growing trend defined by increased awareness of the impact of one’s purchase decisions. We have to hold ourselves accountable to the impact that our shopping has on union jobs and our communities. Our union brothers and sisters at UPS, the USPS, as well as Teamster drivers and warehouse workers are very busy these days. Supporting a variety of choices in our vendors will help prevent monopolistic business models that could put union workers out of the package-delivery business. We can choose to avoid vendors who do not pay their workers a living wage. We can turn to local vendors before going to other resources. They will surely respond to our design needs when we approach them. With costume-related vendors and department stores struggling to survive in the current crisis, our choices now will determine the resources we will have to work with in the future.