After a six month hiatus, I am back at work and have hit the ground running as teaching began this week at most universities around the country. I wish I had arrived wearing my new aerobic shoes but, rather, I found myself shuffling about in a secondhand pair of loafers, trying not to trip over myself or the students. This resulted in a few choice lunch beverages spilled on both my sweater and trousers. After the introductory seminar, luckily. Nonetheless, I am already thinking about upcoming lecture topics, workshop activities and how to instil a lifelong interest in critical and contextual studies for our design students.
So while I work those few small things out, alongside adopting better work footwear, I thought I would share an idea for my future Worn Through posts with you.
In a conkershell, I would really like to feature more interviews with those working in the realm of fashion and textile research, whether that be archivists, curators, librarians, learning managers within museums, writers and new researchers. And, of course, all those who are involved but with titles I have yet to mention! It would be an honour to write about all the interesting things people in the business of academic research and its dissemination get up to in order for the rest of us to benefit from their knowledge and expertise.
I have a few people in mind that I will be contacting shortly – get ready for that surprise email! But, if you are in Britain, would like to share your work with a wider audience by contributing to the Worn Through community, I would love to hear from you. You can get in touch either via the comments below or email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org
One more thing, before I go. Here in the UK, the media spent most of September focused on the election of Jeremy Corbyn to leader of the Labour Party. This meant no escape from sartorial scrutiny, which, arguably, started with an interview in 1984 where he revealed his knitted pullover had been made by his mother.
I particularly liked an article on the ‘Corbyn’ look, published in the Guardian last week, that focused on its ubiquity amongst Labour supporters present at the party’s annual conference. The actual dress manifestation was compared to that of a ‘retired postman’.
It reminded me of an art project called Exactitudes, started in Rotterdam by Photographer Ari Versluis and profiler Ellie Uyttenbroek and going ever since the mid 1990s. Interested in documenting street styles as seen in various cities, the pair are “registering their subjects in an identical framework, with similar poses and a strictly observed dress code.” In other words, they have grouped together people who on first sight might appear unique in their choice of clothing. Looking through their anthropological collection of dress types, the viewer is struck by how much individuality is often also an act of conformity. The names given to the groups are curious as it is unclear whether these reflect the personal views of the artists or self-identified by the groups.
Can you spot a ‘retired postman’ group? (Really must get back to lecture preparing…)