Bag-O-Hipster Irony?

My sister TheLadyEve just sent me a link to this post by Amelie Gillette of The A.V.Club's Hater blog. The Hater hates, always, and Gillette does it brilliantly. Yesterday she was hating on American Apparel's new Bag-O-Scraps, a 1.7-pound bag of mixed fabric scraps for $8. Gillette opens with a description of the volcanic disaster at Pompeii, and muses about what would happen if a similar eruption befell the United States today:
[...]if lava and ash and pumice stone relentlessly rained down from the sky for days, filling the streets, burying the stores, smothering the life of our cities like a great grey pillow—centuries later, someone would dig through the layers of natural concrete and rubble and try to make sense of what life was like in our cities. And if they dug their way into a preserved American Apparel store, and found a sign that said "Bag O' Scraps--$8" they'd think we were all really, really stupid. Of course, they'd be right.
I have never bought anything from American Apparel*, so I don't know if their fabric is low-quality enough to be useless (Gillette refers to "cheap fabric scraps"). However, her main objection seems to be that fabric scraps themselves are useless, regardless of quality:
But what will you do with these scraps, besides yell at them for being so totally useless? The possibilities are endless!
Cry on them! Dress up your houseplants with them! Take them to the park and throw them in the fountain instead of pennies! Stuff them in your mouth to stop the screaming!
The Portland Mercury also looks askance at the Bag-O-Scraps, saying they are "for the most helpless of hipsters" and smirking at the included project ideas, "like wrapped hoods for beardos."

If you sew already, it's true that you could get plenty of scraps right off your floor or cutting table for mere cents. To get those scraps on your floor in the first place, though, you'd have to buy yardage. Sure, you'd also get a t-shirt or something out of it, but if you just want a flashy-patterned patch, accent, or applique, you're not going to want to buy yardage.

In fact, it is standard for fabric stores to sell bags of scraps, and American Apparel's price is pretty much in line with that practice. American Apparel charges $8 for 1.7 pounds or about 75 pieces. I've seen prices up to $10 a pound for uncoordinated scraps; higher of course for color-themed scraps. Sewers and crafters use scraps for appliques, quilts, mending patches, small items like glasses cases, etc. Fabric jewelry is a trend now too. "Beardo" hoods aside, there are lots of free patterns for DIY scrap projects online.

The drawbacks, aside from possible poor quality, are that American Apparel's scraps appear to be a mix of knit and woven, and a mix of different patterns and colors. Also, there's no minimum-size guarantee. However, companies that do offer minimum sizes, color themes, and content guarantees (e.g. all-cotton or all-wool) do charge more per pound.

Companies like Moda do sell scraps as narrow as 2" in their scrap bags. However, they guarantee a minimum length (32"). On the other other hand, they charge $10 for a half pound, not $8 for a pound and a half. Erica's Craft and Sewing, based in South Bend, IN has a regular price of about $9 for a pound of cotton bolt-ends, squares, and scraps (they appear to be on sale right now, though).

Overall, the Bag O Scraps seems reasonable to me. Of course, I don't trust American Apparel and they may just be cynically cashing in on desperate hipsterism. The Youngsters Today are getting more into sewing and DIY apparel and accessories (thanks, Project Runway and underground design slams!) though, so it seems like good business practice to me.

Fabric is God. Why waste it?

Bottom line: I would buy my scraps elsewhere, but I think American Apparel's concept is a rip-off only if all the pieces are off-grain odd-shaped shreds, which I doubt they would try. There is an industry standard for scrap bags; it's nothing new, so they do have to compete with fabric companies' offerings. if any Shakers out there have gotten a look at the actual scraps, let us know what they are like.

H/T TheLadyEve
*American Apparel's advertising is reason enough for me not to give them my business, and you'll notice I don't link to them here. YMMV

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