Taking a page from Twitter’s Friday Follow (#ff), every fourth Friday I will share with you a blog I am following. Featured blogs will eventually be listed in the right-hand column.
I first stumbled onto Elizabeth Cline’s writing through her column on the Etsy.com blog. Her “History of a Cheap Dress” explored the explosion of apparel options over time. Consumers (in this case, explicitly women) went from making their own clothing to having access to mass-produced goods. We are now able to stuff our closets with clothing, but Elizabeth Cline asks “at what cost?”
Overall, Elizabeth Cline’s column for Etsy, her Tumbler blog (The Good Closet), and upcoming book seek to explore “the global impact of fast fashion [and] how to dress ethically (and fashionably) on a budget.” (She also writes about ”cheap chic fabrics” and the cultural and economic forces that put us into blue jeans). I like that her blog focuses on the environmental and the social/labor issues behind the fashion industry. I do wish that her blog posts had a few more “citations” so I could delve deeper into some topics, but maybe her book will have a list of additional references and resources to help us be more conscious consumers.
The blue jeans and t-shirts article reminded me of an article we read in an anthropology class, about the history of fabric. Most of the academic details are gone, but I remember that England had a trade deficit because luxurious and color fabrics from the East were imported, overpowering the local textile market. Black was pushed as a “fashionable” and “good” color in England because the English were very good at dying wool black. The powers-that-be portrayed the luxurious and colorful silks and velvets as decadent, sinful, and just plain undesirable.
Being an archaeologist, I really appreciate her exploration of material culture and the behind-the-scene forces. I’ve seen those old Sears & Roebuck catalogs, full of all kinds of pre-made goods that you can buy from a distance. When people were making all of their possessions, they had a greater investment in the items. They were more likely to try to repair the item and if they moved, they were more likely to take their most valued possessions with them…leaving less for us archaeologists to find. But think about your last move. How much stuff did you donate or throw away? How much of that was clothing? How much (and what) did you really take with you to your new home?
If you are looking for a short and interesting read this weekend, take a moment to read Elizabeth Cline’s thoughts at http://thegoodcloset.tumblr.com/ and her Etsy Blog posts.
Featured image: Fur Clothing 1903. By H. Kirstein, Leipzig [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons