Faustine Steinmetz’s talk complemented the previous lectures and paired nicely with the theme of sustainability. After hearing Steinmetz’s speak, I really began to question the way I viewed my wardrobe and decided to reappraise the value of my clothes.
Steinmetz called to my attention the dedication, creativity, and labor that is invested in clothes. Her approach to clothing of appreciating a single garment for its uniqueness and its own story helped me to think of my wardrobe as not a heap of clothes to be thrown out each season, but as garments that could be reused and invested with new meaning each time worn.
The manner in which Steinmetz spoke about her ecommerce site and her performance pieces allowed me to think of her clothes as works of art. I found her hope to awaken a real connection between the consumer and clothing inspiring. The metaphor of garments on her ecommerce as books in a library urged me to re-evaluate my clothes as more than just threads of wool. This metaphor allowed me to see threads as words on a page that when woven together told a story.
The discussion after Steinmetz’s talk also called for me to re-think my approach to clothing. In light of the reading “Blue Jean Green Anthropology,” we considered whether jeans are universal and democratic. While jeans may appear to be similar, there are a number of factors that distinguish them from one another. Take for example, the design, cut, and brand of the jean. Also, in many ways jeans are spatially and temporal contingent. Jeans vary depending on the cultural and time period in which they are worn.
To say jeans are democratic would be rather reductive. I find that jeans are more individualistic. When worn jeans can conform to one’s body and experiences. The number of rips and snags in a jean coat worn for multiple years gives a personal account of its wearer. The rips and snags are like words in a diary that tell of one’s intimate, daily experiences.
Distressed jeans or jeans that have endured wear and tear over time are still wearable and even fashionable. The endurance of denim provides a very sustainable material. As a result, since denim is a resilient material that can withstand both temporal and environmental constraints, there does not need to be a large production. In “Blue Jean Green Anthropology,” the author puts forth that “the most effective way to reduce the strains on the environment would be to reduce the number of jeans manufactured and purchased rather than merely recycling them” (32). I would also add that consumers need to re-invest new meaning into their purchases and buyers should approach the selling process in terms of quality not quantity.