Background to wearlog

My background in fashion and textiles, performance art, anthropology, the transition movement and historical re-enactment, particularly the Make Do and Mend campaign of WW2 makes the wearlog research autobiographical in nature. It also makes the no more clothing pledge too easy, if anything, for me to adhere to. The past 25 years’ worth of accumulated clothing provides more than a sufficient hoard to last a lifetime. Over this time I have also acquired the practical skills to design, pattern cut, sew and mend. The challenge (and also the root of satisfaction in the project) will lie in finding creative solution to mend and alter garments to remain smart over the coming decades and, harder still, finding the time to do so.

I am interested by other people’s reactions to my clothing pledge, and particularly to the shock and horror of a significant proportion of the people I talk to. What if I get pregnant/fat/run out of underwear, they worry. The most significant reaction is that of my mother whose concern is such that (knowing how many suitcases of clothes I possess) regularly urges me to accept clothes she has found for me at a charity sale. Her worry appears to be that I will not be able to meet by psychological needs without new clothes, her justification being ‘but darling, you work so hard, you deserve it’.

My clothing consumption since my early teens has been atypical. For most of my life my clothes were acquired at jumble sales, car boot sales, charity shops, the Birmingham Rag Market and gifts.  As I learnt to sew in my early 30s a small proportion of my clothes were handmade.  When I got a ‘proper job’ in my late 30s I increasingly bought new (mostly discounted) items.

At no time have I acquired ‘excessive’ amounts of clothing. My hoard is vast because I have rarely thrown items away.  The contents of my wardrobe are particularly interesting for this study as it comprises a varied collection of clothes from different eras from the 1930s to 2008. There is a diverse range in the quality of materials and workmanship. Conclusions can be drawn from datasets regarding such issues as longevity and durability which have relevance to today’s fast fashion industry.

Active hoard

I typically have a small proportion (approx 10%) of my clothing available to wear at any one time.

Passive hoard

Significantly, the passive hoard includes a large proportion of clothes that have never or rarely been worn as they were acquired with the intention of making alterations to the size and/or style of the item. The remainder of the passive hoard comprises items that require mending before they can be reworn. Many of these items rank highly on utility, fashion and meaning but have been in a passive state for several years.  As an extreme example I have two large sacks of ltights to be darned which represents all the tights I have ever laddered since 1985. To date I have mended none of them.

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