Saturday, April 19, 2008

more fabrics! and two milestones

The fabrics from KimoYES arrived on Friday and I'm very pleased and excited: they're simply divine. What's even better, Jill from KimoYES emailed me with as much background to each one as she could. I'm not alone in thinking that designers and manufacturers have a power to encourage a stronger consumer engagement with a garment, which in turn might get consumers to want to hang on to their garments for longer, caring for them better, maintaining and repairing them (or having them repaired). My talk on Thursday, based on the paper I presented at Dressing Rooms, was about designing garments for repair and alteration, arguing that decisions by the fashion designer and patternmaker can facilitate and enable future transformative practices (repair and alteration) in a garment. I also think we can help steer consumers towards less environmentally damaging laundering practices. I used my Viktor & Rolf jacket as an example. The care label says: "Do not wash in water, do not dry clean." And I haven't for the two years I've had it. Instead, my dry cleaner sponges (with what, I don't know) the cuffs and neck which tend to get dirty quickly, given the light colour of the jacket and the fact I rarely wear collared, long-sleeved shirts. Presumably the washing instructions stem from the high metal content of the fabric (19%, with 81% cotton). I love, too, that pressing the jacket is pointless. I just pull it back into shape when I put it away. The thought that has gone into the buttoning and buttonholes is nice, too: the top hole is a regular keyhole, the middle is set into the waist seam and the bottom one is fake.

But back to the vintage kimono fabrics. Below are my photos with Jill's comments. Wherever I end up using them, the garment will come with all of this information, too. A bit like the Dutch project Made-By, where you can enter the garment code on the website and get its entire production history. What a fantastic idea; let's hope for lots of companies signing up. As for Jill's fabrics, they come from old, damaged kimono; she salvages what she can for sale as well as her quilting work. She also mentioned an artist who often gets the bits that are too damaged for sale; he happily uses them. The condition of the fabrics is excellent, despite their age.

Left to right, top row:
#3254 (black/white). 70s
#3518 (fine navy wool with pink) is from a woolen kimono - I'd say from the 70s
#3856 (grey and black) is an ikat meisen silk where the threads are dyed before the weaving process (hence the irregular pattern). This fabric would be from the 70s
#4167 Ikat wool. This is from a roll of kimono fabric that is old stock. 70/80s

Left to right, bottom row:
#2747 (pink with black/white/red) 50s/60s
#3282 (red/pink) 80s
#2785 (black/grey/white) - can't tell you much about this one. Suspect that there may be some hemp in this fabric. What do you think? I don't know how to test for it. [I'm not sure either; I know the smell of burning cellulosic fibre, cotton/linen/hemp/etc. but not sure how to go from there.]
#3159 (red shibori) Red rinzu silk which has been patterned using shibori. This is probably machined rather than done by hand. Typical 70s

Oh, the milestones? My younger brother turns 31 today; Happy Birthday! There is no card in the mail but once my PhD is dead and buried, I will get into that habit again, or at least try. And I checked the receipt for the jeans again: six months today. Perhaps I'll wash them next weekend.

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