Here’s another article from The American Designer’s Association newsletter courtesy of my friend Michael Mills. This article was written by Louis Rubin and published circa 1921. As you will see, mine and perhaps yours, are not new complaints. I tell you, nothing ever changes.
With the success of the Convention the old method of getting all you can and canning all you get received a pulverizing blow. This spirit of self-aggrandizement has brought down many a powerful organization down to a shameful death. The causes of it are—
You all know the story of China’s retardation. China as a nation centuries ago excelled in all of the arts and sciences. She became so arrogant and uppish in her superiority that as a nation she lost her head. She felt that the other nations might deprive her of her “secrets” and so she immediately ordered the erection of an immense wall with instructions that it was to be insuperable in its defense and impregnable in its strength. China however, as a nation, did not for the time realize that instead of building a tower of strength and power she was really building a monument over a grave which she was digging for herself. She was so blinded by her self-induced loftiness that she developed, quite unconsciously, a delusion in the form of self-centeredness. Not realizing that all progress is relative she ceased to communicate with all other nations and therefore was unable to glean a broad gauged view of what the other nations were doing.
As a result the promises of a star-beautiful nation replete with the grandest opportunities became dimmed by mental, moral and physical degeneracy. China has not yet recuperated from her historical decline.
The lessons which designers must learn from this is, that they must lose sight of their individual gain for the collective gain of the profession. They must cease to be selfish. They must be ready, as Mr. Ryan once said, to “acclaim the Golden Ride and to crown it with the Autocracy of Service”.
I notice that many designers do not realize that occasionally a slight cause is at the basis of a large disturbance. I was talking to a very able gentleman a few days ago, who is the designer of a very large establishment who spoke rather briefly about what he thought was the basic cause for professional unprogressivism and unethicality among designers. “I firmly believe that the trouble with men of my profession”, he said, “is that they are eternally jealous about one another’s achievements. Remove this difficulty which is the poison in the snake and you will no longer have any troublesome conditions to contend with.” This appears to be a trivial cause but it is phenomenally destructive in its effects.
Sulla the Roman Dictator once entered into a great warfare because someone said that his face reminded him of a “Mulberry sprinkled oe’r with meal”. Turkey and Venice once waged a war costing 160,000 lives merely because the Venetian Ambassador boasted of the fact that his countrymen wore beards, to which the Turkish Grand Vizier quickly and hot-headedly responded— ”so do monkeys”.
The above instances merely show how some of the most trivial things are responsible for outbursts that have actually made history. Simple causes are responsible therefore for some of the world’s greatest conflicts.
Hence, make sure that your small causes—selfishness, secrecy, and jealousy are removed before you do big things. This will also be the remedy for the foibles and petty differences which foment conflict.
This makes of garment designing a fascinating profession. for two generations its trend has been upward for the attainment of dignity and high reward by the designer, the wholesale trade demanded talent, creative talent, originality and genius to produce artistic and fashionable clothing and it has come to pass, for the United States has been for decades, and is now producing the finest clothing the World has ever known.
From a Weekly Wage the Designer Has Gone to $25,000 Per Year! These, of course, are the super-men, many are a close second, and there is yet room on the top shelf for others to climb to. The wholesale trade is a growing one and the designer’s chances are brilliant for a career in it. Designing garments is a fascinating profession and worthy of men of talent and genius to enter it if he has ambition to aspire and excel!