Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Fashion, Revised

Lately when I've rummaged in most things Fashion, I've felt sorely disappointed.  Nothing pretty or interesting or thoughtful.  Just the making of people into consumer objects without a past or a future.  I look at ensambles and I visualize the person wearing it going no where positive.  So sad.  And, then I browsed the Maison Martin Margiela 2014 collection.  The collection reworks famous textiles into new creations.  Scraps from Fortuny and forgotten decor prints by FLW all incorporated into memorable works of art

I wish I knew what textile this pattern originally came from.  I want to see this dress up close--from this view, Iit could be a Showa kimono print.  Or a mural.  The only thing I know is that I want to know more!

I love this dress and would wear I
it--that makes me love it even more!  I can't decide if it is a 60's Marimekko print or some vintage wax fabric.  It is interesting and beautiful.

Showing the selvages--some of the fabrics by high-end designers are BEAUTIFUL (I'm thinking of Nani Iro).  They're the touches of the fabric that we normally don't see, they tell you what colors are in the fabric and who drew the design.  Seeing the pantone dots makes me smile and think of holding the fabric and trying to decide what to make.  Such a wonderful feeling!

i love this collection; the fabrics are so interesting that I wish I knew the minutia about them.  The garments themselves are simple and while not body-con, they do look comfortable and like reasonable garments.  The mini dress is not for everyone but nothing ever is.  I guess I like this collection so much because it takes the beautiful history of fashion and reuses it to make something new.  Interesting textiles plus interesting designs!

photos from style.com

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Where Does The Fox Hide?

One of the biggest popular motifs in pop culture lately has been the fox.  I'm not really sure why!  Foxes are native to most of the world so nearly every corner of the globe knows the fox.  Interestingly, they are almost universally associated with cunning.  In Finnish folktales, the fox outsmarts his predators.  In Japan, foxes are shape-shifters and if you watch their weddings, time forgets you and you wake up years after they catch you.  

In Pre-Fall 2014, foxes were still going strong as a motif.  My favorite so far is by Tsumori Chisato.  Beautiful black and white dress covered by embroidery and embellishment but still looks classic enough where it should be able to be worn for years.  It reminds me of Victorian-era embroidery.  But, if you look closely...there's a fox sneaking in the meadow.  Can you find it?

I know, it is silly, like a "where's Waldo?" on a dress, yet i find it oddly clever--when was thelast time you had a dress where you saw something new if you looked closer and paid attention?  This way you can have your fox now but won't look passe' in a few years when we've moved on to something else.

photo from style.com

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Wiksten's "Tova" And A New Path In Fashion

One of the most interesting things in fashion that the Great Recession seems to have spawned are designers with new visions of what their company should be.  With a combination of social media and good taste, they've created businesses that are a hybrid of a traditional small-scale designer and a dressmaker.  My favorite one of these is Wiksten by Jenny Gordy.  She's managed to turn a blog and her social media accounts into a viable way to sell her designs and vision.  Mind you, unlike traditional fashion designers, she doesn't just sell you her dress.  She will also sell you the pattern so you can make it yourself and fabric to use to make it!  Let's face it, that's a great idea.  In the world of blogs and pinterest, there are legions of women who want to try their hands at making it themselves and capturing that market can help reduce start-up costs.  This seems to work in Gordy's favor--it lessens the strain of trying to have enough stock on hand and manage the sales since a certain percentage will just download a pattern, but she also can give classes on how to make her designs!  This is such an interesting turn in the fashion world--a designer has a chance to sell her ideas in an accessible way and to capture a higher percentage of the customer's spend.

This model allows for designers to get a start and put their ideas out directly to consumers with far lower start up costs and lower barriers of entry.  In social media, if you do some level of self-promotion and your ideas catch on, they spread themselves.  You would not need to worry about the risk of a large factory production order of your line.  The most interesting part is seeing how far this catches on and to what extent this method of start up leads to "hitting it big" and turning into a household name.  Only time will tell, but given the popularity of Wiksten, it may in fact be possible.  

In the spirit of this new design company model, I bought the "Tova" pattern and decided to give a whirl.  I am in no way an expert, just an average home hobbyist. Fabric is from nani iro by Naomi Ito

I like to render the pattern in Swedish tracing paper since I can create a pattern with the modifications I want without ruining the origional--this time I shortened the length to 17.5 inches to the hem from the armhole.

This seems to be the photo missing from the directions of how to assemble the front.  Pin liberally.

Iron the folds of the seams on the placket, collar and cuffs ahead of time instead of as you pin.  Much less frustrating!

Finished product!  Took me about 4 hours and fits nicely.  I put interfacing in the collar and placket.  

I used vintage ceramic buttons with iridescent glaze, looks great with the fabric.  Yes, they are vintage repurposed ones!

Simple pattern that is easy to follow and actually makes a great product that doesn't look like a craft project.  If supplying consumers great home-use patterns is part of the future of fashion, I can't wait!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

The Changing Landscape of American Organic Cotton

I live in a cotton producing area.  In October I drive past miles and miles cotton fields.  Bits of white fluff line the road like frost.  Yet, I've repeatedly heard "there are almost no cotton fabric mills in the US, much less one that makes organic fabric."  Really?  We grow mountains of cotton, I drive past them regularly.  Do we really ship it all to be processed overseas?

Turns out that since all of the stories that the American textile company was on its last legs, much has changed.  While thousands of factories closed in the last 20 years, they have also consolidated, improved technology and benefitted from being close to the major world markets.  In the last 3 years, the industry has expanded by almost 40% according to the New York Times.  No, it did not bring back the thousands of jobs that they once provided--much of the production is automated--but the ones they brought have decent pay and safe working conditions.  Imagine that!  Many of these revived factories have started oroducing organic cotton fabrics.  In 2010 all of the news stories seem to indicate there was only 1 organic cotton fabric mill in the US.  Now, I can find evidence of at least 4 on this site, not to mention the many others I was able to find through product references.  For instance, there is a mill that now produces organic cotton sheets here.  And another makes custom t-shirts--I bought one from TS Designs  and will write about it after it comes.

Be skeptical if you hear that the US doesn't produce organic cotton fabric--we have factories churning it out by the ton!

Photo from New York Times article linked to above

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Cambodia Has Trouble With Their Cash Cow

The fashion industry is one of the largest industries in the world.  Our choices about what we like to wear effect millions of people and drive the economy.  That choice about what shirt you like seems slightly less insignificant, yes?

Currently in Cambodia the garment workers are on strike for a doubling of their pay to $160 a month.  That means they currently make $80 a month, about the UN's standard for poverty.  Do you know that virtually all of the garment workers in Cambodia are women?  And, only about 5% of the factories they work in are owned by Cambodians?  Sure, Cambodia is far away and not seen by the West as anything to think about other than a possible cheap vacation destination.  So, why should it matter to you that there is a country far away that makes 80% of its exports from women working in factories owned by foreign investors?  And that their government is now shooting them in the streets for asking to live in less abject poverty?

This matters.  You are part of the swirling system in this world that gets your shirt to you that also thinks that women need not be paid enough to be able to buy adequate food.  Think about it, the government there values the opinions of the foreign companies over the well-being of their citizens to the point that they are literally willing to simply kill them.  Treating those who work in legitimate trades in this manner does not bode well for economic progress, stability and development.  And, if the workers aren't in the factories, how do you think you will get your new shirt?

References:  http://www.aljazeera.com/news/asia-pacific/2014/01/cambodia-garment-workers-strike-turns-deadly-2014134464180721.html


Photo from

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

2014, I Hope You Improve

So, I wanted to do a Happy New Year post that was all cheery and bright and then I came across the photo below.  It is a look from Anne Valerie Hash's 2014 Spring/Summer show.  It looks like a bad ice skater ensemble.   I look at it and worry.  One cannot be cheery and bright while worrying that the fashion gods want you to wear that.

Yes, celebrating the Olympics is great.  Go team!  Just because they are coming up does not mean that we need to look like the ice skater trying to impress the fashion-challenged Russian judge.  There is no good time or place to wear this outfit other than Halloween.  It is just bad all around from the gulaboi blue to the placement of the color panels to the stripes on the leg portion.  Are those pants?  Sigh. 

I hope that 2014 improves to the point that the models start to look happy and the fashion gods find us something flattering to wear!

Photo from style.com

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