at least for the time being.
Some of you may have noticed that the patterns are no longer available for download.
When we started Lastwear we were very into the idea of open information. You might even say we were a little starry eyed about it. Open source was on the rise, people were successfully marketing themselves through free electroic distributions of their ebooks, songs etc. and still making sales to pay the bills. It looked like sharing was the way to go.
We liked that fact that it flew in that face of conventional business practices, thumbed it's nose at corporate colonialism. In a world where people seemed ever more distrustful of businesses large and small, open sourcing our work seemed like a way to show we were for real. That we weren't just in it for the money.
We felt confidant that any sales we might lose to folks downloading and sewing their own gear from our patterns would be more than balanced out by the increased exposure. We thought being the first truly open source clothing company would be something that got people talking.
Sadly, that hasn't been the case.
While it seems that many people certainly like the patterns, and a few of you have even been so nice as to voluntarily pay for them, the exposure we were hoping for never materialized.
We've had very little by way of feedback (on person to date blogged about their use of our pattern and kindly sent pictures) and we're not seeing any clothing sales that we can attribute to making the patterns available.
We have heard that some folks are sewing garments from our patterns to sell. That's fine, we never said you couldn't, but it would have been nice to be contacted . To know that we could expect some business sent our way too?
The other big problem has been the extra work that releasing the patterns entails. Unlike open source software, we have had to put many hours into converting patterns from the file format we use for production, into a more widely readable format. Even once we do that then it becomes an ongoing tech support issue to try to figure out what software on what system will work to read them properly.
On the other side, amongst those of you who do buy our product, no one seems to list our open source philosophy as the main reason for buying our clothes.
So we had to ask,
If our customers don't care about us being open source, and making our work available doesn't make us any sales but instead costs us money, why are we doing it?
The truth is, we don't have a good answer for that other than to stop.
As I write this, I'm genuinely sad about it, it feels like the abandonment of a cherished belief. Being copy left (almost militantly so) has been a big part of who I think of myself as for almost a decade now and it's very hard to let that go. As things currently stand though, all the evidence I have says I was wrong and at this time I'm not willing to gamble my livelihood on it.
Lastwear is still committed to promoting small independent businesses and personal creativity of all types. We still love maker culture. We're just going to have to find other ways to support it for now.
We hope no one is too horribly disappointed about this and we certainly encourage your feedback on the issue.
I will continue to post sewing tutorials and perhaps further down the road, when we're not scraping to get by month to month, we'll be able to start offering patterns again.