Reconciling with our clothes

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While I find myself still debating how practical Faustine Steinmetz’s attempt at solving the growing distance between consumer and object, I did appreciate her brand’s dedication to ‘reconcile’ people’s relationship with their clothing.

Perhaps I have brought this up too many times before, but when presented with ‘handmade denim’ as their unique selling point, I can’t help but consider how perspectives from consumers who possess some sewing skills vary from those who do not. As applauded as it is to be publically acknowledged for having ‘style,’ part of that recognition comes from this notion of obtaining an inherent skill. In this manner, I feel that being able to denote what is quality (durable & fashionable) vs. what is trendy (impractical) bestows that same fashion capital in today’s society. No longer are thrift store aficionados ridiculed for buying other peoples so called trash, they are commended for being capable of envisioning a diamond in the rough and reinterpreting objects in an innovative way.

Over the weekend I attended an MAFS alum’s curatorial exhibit “She Was Asking For It: Getting Dressed After Sexual Assault” that aimed to create awareness through the display of survivors personal dress accompanied with text panels describing how their relationship to clothing has evolved. One of the testimonies stated that ever since she experienced sexual assault, she feels the need for all of her purchased garments to come embedded with a story of their own – regardless of whether that tale maybe be authentic or of her own invention – in order to overshadow her sartorial memories before the attack.

The idea of heirlooms and hand me downs have always been viewed as precious gifts, but often times their intrinsic status of privilege is left unacknowledged. I have grown up without wearing any of my mother’s/aunt’s/grandma’s clothing, because frankly they all wore their clothing out, repurposed them, or gave them away to others in greater need than themselves. This idea of preserving something that was yours by gifting it to someone else can seem to come off as a bit egotistical. In order to recreate the bond between our clothing and ourselves, I believe this notion of what and who is considered as ‘worth’ archiving is something scholars should explore further, as I intend to through the filed of fashion studies.

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2 responses to “Reconciling with our clothes

  1. Hi Michelle, thank you very much for sharing this thoughtful blog. It is interesting to point out and distinguish between consumers who possess some sewing skills and those who do not. I think it may be beneficial to the fashion industry if consumers do obtain knowledge as to how their clothes are made and how to differentiate between quality fabrics. If consumers gain knowledge and awareness they are able to make more informed decisions and be caution about what they are wearing, how it is made, and where it comes from. In terms of sustainability, knowledge and consumer cautiousness is key.
    However, I can see where being “publically acknowledged for having ‘style’ or ‘obtaining’ an inherent skill” such as knowing how to make one’s own garments can be a problematic power struggle. Knowing how to sew one’s own garments lends itself to embodying the word “stylish,” and, thus, contains a degree of privilege and power over those who are not aware of this intrinsic skill.
    I found it fascinating how you included in your post the MAFS alums’ curatorial exhibit “She Was Asking For it: Getting Dressed After Sexual Assault.” I did not attend the exhibit, but it sounds as if it really evoked the emotions and lived experience we have with clothing. This exhibit depicted the significance of clothes; and reminded me of the saying “the personal is political.” How the female body is adorned has been and still largely is problematic. Clothing often plays into to gender politics, and is intertwined with sex, power, and fashion.

  2. I really agree with your idea, Michelle. Unfortunately, I also still cannot help them to buy $1,400 pair of jean, but I thought about that how do we need to think about the importance of ‘reconcile’ as a fashion student and a future fashion scalar. I went to Ralph Lauren conversation at Parsons, he wore 20 years old suede jacket and a few years old jean. He shared his memories on the suede jacket and talked about how does he coordinate his looks everyday. Of course, the price of his suede jacket will be expensive. (not like fast fashion, so he could wear them for 20 years old) He said people who is chasing the newest trend by buying trendy clothes is a fashion victim. Lauren’s talk and your idea reminded me to think about dedication of reconcile of my wardrobe and my fashion consuming habit.

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