TikTok users are getting a lesson in the cost of art after attacking a designer for pricing her items too high.
NYC-based fashion designer Rachel Ellenbogen went viral on TikTok this week after sharing a beaded embroidery design she turned into a small purse. The design featured the profile of a woman with tears streaming out of her eyes.
According to Rachel’s video, she spent between 15-17 hours designing and creating the purse. She listed it for sale at $990 USD based on the price of materials and her labour involved.
Her TikTok quickly went viral, amassing over 1.3 million views and over 3000 comments at the time of writing.
Despite receiving a lot of love for her creation, her comment section has also been flooded with complaints about the “high” price of the purse, with some calling it an “injustice” to charge that much money for a purse amid a cost of living crisis.
Others claim they could buy a similar style of purse from fast fashion retailers for much less.
Artists and fashion commentary creators have come to Rachel’s defense, explaining how fast fashion has made people feel “entitled” to buy anything they want at a profoundly unethical price.
Fashion and lingerie designer Veronica Velveteen shared her thoughts on the backlash, noting that artists deserve to get paid for their time, energy, and expertise even if that means those designs will remain exclusively for those who can afford that price.
“Some comments are annoyed because it means poor people can’t afford her artwork and art is only accessible for the Rich,” she wrote on Twitter. “as a working class designer who’s often told I should lower my prices so people can afford them it fucks me off because a lot of you think you’re entitled to these crafts.”
“If you cannot afford the product you want it doesn’t give you the right to demand the maker to labour it for free and that’s the same for all clothing, none of that is made by robots,” she explained.
Fashion YouTube commentary channel, ModernGurlz, has also taken to Twitter to share her perspective. She notes that fast fashion retailers like Shein and Amazon have “rotted people’s brains when it comes to the price of goods and what people should be paid for their labor and creativity.”
This entitlement has led to the exploitation of millions of workers in the garment industry.
“‘being trendy’ is not a human rights issue & justifying ACTUAL mistreatment & exploitation so you can have ‘cute clothes’ is ignorant.” she tweeted. “one of the biggest defenses of shein is ‘fat/poor/etc people deserve to look cute too’ & no – people DESERVE a living wage you WANT to look cute learn the difference.”
Off the back of ModernGurlz’s thread, user @coldheartedf4g pointed out that people who defend fast fashion outlets as one of the only affordable options for trendy plus-sized styles are choosing to “argue for the right of poor people in [Western] countries to exploit poorer people in the global [South].”
User @badbuddhist01 also noted the “incredible environmental damage” caused by fast fashion, all in the name of being ‘trendy.’
This controversial discourse has only helped introduce Rachel’s designs to new audiences. In a follow-up video, the designer said she’s received such a huge influx of interest that she’ll be releasing made-to-order slots on her website.
Find Rachel’s shop here.