Jasleen Kandhari: Exploring Asian Textiles Study Day

This summer I had the lovely opportunity to meet NADFAS accredited lecturer Jasleen Kandhari, an art historian specialising in Asian art and design. Her breadth of interest in Asian collections is both broad and diverse. In covering subjects from Tibetan Buddhist sculpture and Korean ritual art to Sikh miniature painting and South Asian textiles, Jasleen has enjoyed interesting curatorial positions both here in London and abroad, as well as lecturing in universities and museums around the world. A prolific writer, Jasleen has published frequently on her subjects and is contributing editor (Indian Textiles) for Textiles Asia Journal. Currently, Jasleen is lecturing and teaching the Indian Textiles Course at the University of Oxford Department of Continuing Education as well as delivering study days on Asian art and textiles at Oxford’s Ashmolean Museum, which is what brought me to one of her Exploring Asian Textiles study days at Morley College earlier this year.

Looking at Jasleen's selection of textiles (author's own)

Looking at Jasleen’s selection of textiles (author’s own image)

The study programme was fast paced, packed with different mediums and filled with Jasleen’s enthusiasm for her subject. In just one day, we travelled across the geographical expanse of Asia, stopping off in India, Malaysia, Indonesia, China, Japan and Tibet. Jasleen took us on a grand tour of textile design, production and consumption while still allowing us to focus in on a specific example at each place. These ranged from the obvious to the obscure. We embraced the Japanese kimono and the Malaysian songket while being encouraged to take a closer look at the phulkaris of the Punjab and the tiger rugs of Tibet.

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Snippet of Jasleen’s textile collection (author’s own image)

Within each location, Jasleen provided the class with lots of visual examples to include handouts, film clips and illustrative slides. In addition, there was an extensive display of textile examples at the front of the room and we were warmly invited to handle these half way through the day, accompanied by Jasleen’s informative commentary about their origins and significance. A personable and confident tutor, matched by a welcoming disposition. Jasleen asked all the students to introduce themselves and was able to respond to every individual interest in Asian textiles with further information. The breadth of motivation was wide for those present. Some were makers, others were thinkers but all shared a common fascination with textiles and were keen to broaden their haptic experience.  

Phulkari from Punjabi, Museum of Anthropology, Vancouver, Canada

Jasleen’s own interest in Asian textiles emerges from her expertise in South Asian art and design, which began with a BA in Asian Art History with Music at the School of Oriental and Asian Studies (SOAS) in London and then an MA at Sotheby’s. This was followed by various curatorial and educational positions at the British Library and the British Museum before Jasleen took on the position of Curator of Asia at the Museum of Anthropology at University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada. It was there that Jasleen became more interested in Asian textiles, drawn to their large collection of uncatalogued phulkari, a style of embroidery specific to the Punjab.  Jasleen also loves contemporary textiles and suggests that her passion was always there, having grown up in Kenya in a family with close ties to India where her aunt is a fashion designer in Mumbai. This was also nicely mirrored in her use of current examples from popular fashion magazines as well as the catwalk to highlight the continued significance of Asian textile design in today’s clothing styles.

Jasleen immersed in the research process; wearing kimono in Japan

When not writing for various cultural publications, Jasleen can be found visiting textile factories, filming production techniques or trying on regional costumes, in an effort to immerse herself in the subject for the benefit of her students.  I asked her to share some highlights of teaching a subject she loves. These included inspiring students to want to learn more about the subject; and the fact that it doesn’t feel like ‘work’ but an integral facet of her own passion for the subject. I wondered if Jasleen had any good advice to share with regards to teaching her subject. ‘Always put yourself in the lecture’, she replied. Whether it be wearing a particular costume or including photographs that show you participating in your research, Jasleen suggested this was a vital way to connect with students.

Image from the Sanskriti Museum of Indian Textiles, Delhi

I also wanted to know which museums had enhanced Jasleen’s interest in textiles. Special mentions included the Musee de Jacquard in Roubaix, Northern France, the National Textiles Museum in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and the Sanskriti Museum of Indian Textiles in Delhi, India. According to Jasleen, their emphasis on actively displaying techniques and processes allows visitors to see how textiles are produced in a dynamic way. This is very reflective of Jasleen’s pedagogical approach to her subject. The study day was nicely peppered with opportunities to look at a range of material sources, watch films showing how particular types of textiles are made and a myriad of handouts identifying techniques and motifs.

Tiger pelt rug, date unknown

I was particularly struck by her research into Tibetan tiger rugs, of which there are apparently only 200 in existence that feature a tiger pelt motif. Interestingly, the tiger pelt design varies from the very abstract to the very literal. Made from sheep wool, these rugs are said to have come out of Tibet as a result of the uprisings in the late 1950s and early 1960s. Originally made as gifts for lamas, the tiger skin design is reflective of Tibetan Buddhist iconography. Yogins are often depicted meditating on tiger pelts and the tiger is historically believed to have protective qualities amongst Tibetan kings and warriors. These are fascinating textile objects and it was great to be introduced to them by Jasleen in the study day.

When listening to her, I was swept away by the heady descriptions of projects, texts, workshops and tours that Jasleen has in the pipeline, all of which can now be discovered on her own website entitled the Travelling Art Historian. In terms of what the future might hold, Jasleen is enthusiastic about museum education, in particular expanding what is on offer in Asian textiles and arts online courses. Jasleen is also keen to develop her research into Sikh art and textiles, both past and contemporary. According to her, ‘it is very important to record Sikh cultural heritage, which includes the influence of crafts such as textile design and painting’.

Spending the day looking at Asian textiles reminded me how useful it is to put myself in the shoes of the student and the advantages of having material artifacts when teaching what you enjoy. I would also very much like to meet others whose teaching interests include textiles and fashion history/theory here in the UK so please feel free to get in touch by email emma@wornthrough.com

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Seeking New Interns

Worn Through is still looking for 1 – 2 new interns to start as early as September or October and preferably work with us for the entire 2014-15 school year.

We are particularly looking for people who are comfortable with Twitter, academic journal articles, and those who want to help with finding and posting CFPs, interesting videos, doing research with contributors, and other tidbits our readers would enjoy.

We need someone who checks email daily and can be fairly quick in response time, although this is the type of position where you can do many of your tasks in chunks (such as pre-posting weeks’ worth of CFPs). Therefore we can work with your workplace or school schedule as long as you are a good email communicator. The ideal candidates are involved in the research/academic/history & culture side of apparel studies and want to continue in those fields. Although someone in marketing/trend research or similar may be great too.

Worn Through is a volunteer network of individuals who work as thriving museums, schools and doing independent research projects of all sorts, so this is a strong networking and professional experience opportunity for a student or new graduate. Many of our interns move onto nice jobs and/or become contributors here at Worn Through. Internships are unpaid, however we have worked it out with schools in the past to do any paperwork needed to get credit if that is an option for you. Also note we have 30-40,000 hits per month and almost 1000 Facebook fans so your efforts will be visible to the public and your hard work recognized. Also upon a strong job we are happy to write letters of recommendation.

Please email Dr. Monica Sklar with your CV and brief cover letter by September 30. Goal start date is October 15, October 31 at the latest.

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A Postcard from Abroad: Autumnal Activities in London

This is the time of year when academic life goes up a gear as we begin our teaching and learning programmes, embrace a new cohort of students and welcome back the older ones.  It is also a time of great pressure and the weight of the so many ‘to do’ lists can become unbearable! So, between running around like a maniac and wanting to stick my head in the ground, I am taking this opportunity to mention some autumn activities worth noting.

There would seem to be a buzz for f20th century fashion photography exhibitions this winter as we see two retrospectives open at the V&A and Somerset House.  The former features Horst. The Photographer of Style and is on until 4 January.  Featuring many unseen prints and restored colour photographs, the exhibition explores the prolific work of Horst P. Horst, the photographer whose work redefined fashion photography during the 1930s and 1940s.   Covering a later period but no less esteemed fashion photographer, Somerset House hosts Guy Bourdin: Image Maker from 27 November until 15 March 2015.  Showing over 100 works, spanning his 40 year long career, the exhibition is curated by Alistair O’Neill with Shelly Verthime and will also include the entire ‘Walking Legs’ series, his iconic campaign commissioned by Charles Jourdan in 1979 (and from which the above image is taken from).

An intriguing exhibition at Sotherbys S/2 Gallery entitled Stitched Up caught my eye and is open until the end of September. This small display of pieces by contemporary artists working in the medium of textiles claims to show the historical relationship between contemporary art and textiles since the 1980s as well as shine a torch on the breadth of practices seen today.  I think this is worth a visit in order to see how textiles as an artistic medium has developed in the last 30 years, something that has yet to be done on a larger scale in the bigger design museums.

Staying with the art and fashion theme, I noticed there is an exhibition at the Saatchi Gallery featuring a ‘psychological’ portrait of Coco Chanel by Sam Taylor-Wood, the director of the much hyped film Fifty Shades of Grey and Turner Prize nominee.  Taylor-Wood presents 34 photographs that capture the interior of Chanel’s private apartment in Paris, which has been preserved since her death over 40 years ago.  The exhibition, called Second Floor, has been curated to coincide with London Fashion Week.

I’m excited to see an exhibition on dress and identity starting soon at the Design MuseumWomen Fashion Power opens on the 29 October until 26 April 2015 and offers us insights into how influential women have used dress to define and embellish their status.  Featuring 25 women and spanning over 150 years of fashion history, the exhibition features outfits and personal style stories from figures involved in fashion and music to politics and economics.

This also reminds me of a new book by Sheila Heti, Heidi Julavits and Leanne Shapton which focuses on how women choose to dress as an integral aspect of their daily lived livesWomen in Clothes  seems to promote itself as a philosophical ponderance on what it means to get dressed, presented as a stream of dialogues rather than a set of rules.  I have yet to read it but understand that this is a take on fashion and dress that draws upon the conversations started in publications such as Worn Magazine, where clothes are rarely about fashion and almost always about stories relating to who we were, are and could be.   If you have read the book, it would be great to hear from you.  I am very interested to know what you think about this emerging interest in clothes as identity narratives; in the ‘getting dressed’ process might offer fashion and dress scholars new material to consider and reflect upon.

Lastly, I am excited to say that later this week I will visit the V&A’s Clothworkers Centre for the Study and Conservation of Textiles and Fashion for the first time – it’s taken me a year to get an appointment!  I hope to share my experience at a later date but for now, it’s back to crazy running around!

 

Photo credit: Guy Bourdin, Charles Jourdan advertisement (1979) Accessed at http://uk.phaidon.com/agenda/photography/picture-galleries/2010/august/16/fashion-photography-guy-bourdin/?idx=12&idx=12

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Seeking 2 New Interns — Deadline Extended

Worn Through is still looking for 1 – 2 new interns to start as early as September or October and preferably work with us for the entire 2014-15 school year.

We are particularly looking for people who are comfortable with Twitter, academic journal articles, and those who want to help with finding and posting CFPs, interesting videos, doing research with contributors, and other tidbits our readers would enjoy.

We need someone who checks email daily and can be fairly quick in response time, although this is the type of position where you can do many of your tasks in chunks (such as pre-posting weeks’ worth of CFPs). Therefore we can work with your workplace or school schedule as long as you are a good email communicator. The ideal candidates are involved in the research/academic/history & culture side of apparel studies and want to continue in those fields. Although someone in marketing/trend research or similar may be great too.

Worn Through is a volunteer network of individuals who work as thriving museums, schools and doing independent research projects of all sorts, so this is a strong networking and professional experience opportunity for a student or new graduate. Many of our interns move onto nice jobs and/or become contributors here at Worn Through. Internships are unpaid, however we have worked it out with schools in the past to do any paperwork needed to get credit if that is an option for you. Also note we have 30-40,000 hits per month and almost 1000 Facebook fans so your efforts will be visible to the public and your hard work recognized. Also upon a strong job we are happy to write letters of recommendation.

Please email Dr. Monica Sklar with your CV and brief cover letter by September 30. Goal start date is October 15, October 31 at the latest.

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Back to School: Top Five Research Resources

It’s September, which means back to school!  There hasn’t been a single year when I am not completely preoccupied by what to wear on the first day of class.  Crafting and presenting my socio-intellectual-professional identity becomes a full-time project from the end of August until the start of term.  Taking the time to equip myself sartorially was always a helpful way to manage the uncertainty and anxiety of unknown classes, unfamiliar teachers and unforeseen changes amongst friends last seen before the summer break. As an adult, working out what to wear at this time helps me to get in the mood for teaching, moving away from the breezy feel of holidays towards a more disciplined aura manifest in the lace up shoes, sombre tones and heavy fabrics of my September wardrobe.

Yet, preparing to return to our studies means brushing up on our books as well as our winter warms.  So, to get ready for this academic year, I wanted to highlight my top five online fashion/textile/clothing resources that any budding scholar or thinker could add to their academic outfit and we don’t already feature here on Worn Through.

First up is the Fashion Research Network, a collaborative project developed by PhD students from the Royal College of Art and the Courtauld Institute of Art and set up in 2013 “in response to their own experiences of navigating the networks already open to fashion researchers.”  Not only does the website promote early career researchers but it is one of the few websites that attempts to bring all the various strands of fashion research together into one space, where conferences and courses can be browsed simultaneously.

Second up is the University of Brighton’s listings of dress collections in museums put together by Prof Lou Taylor and Dr Charlotte Nicklas in July 2011.  This comprehensive list offers fashion researchers a wealth of information concerning dress/textile collections in the South, South East and South West of England.

In third place is the Vintage Fashion Guild ‘s Label Resource, which enables those with an interest in history and clothes to begin tracing the retail lineage of loved garments through their labels.  Although this resource is aimed at vintage buyers and sellers, the information provided is fascinating for anyone who has ever wanted to know more about the story of their worn clothes.

Taking fourth position is Behind the Seams, Vice Magazine’s collection of fashion and dress documentaries. Online access to interesting leftfield films about apparel, particularly from a global perspective, is not easy which is why this site is so valuable.  I only wish that films were added more frequently, thereby building upon this unique archive.

A still from Bulletproof Fashion, a Behind the Seams film about Bogata’s tailoring industry which specialises in protective clothing for bodyguards and UN officials

My last choice is Documenting Fashion, a dress history blog set up by Rebecca Arnold, Oak Foundation Lecturer in History of Dress and Textiles, and students studying textiles and dress at the Courtald Institute of Art in London in 2013.  This collective approach to writing about dress and fashion provides a good model of academic research whereby both student and teacher’s interests inform one another’s work within a public information forum.

If you know of any other online resources that you would like to share with our community, please do let us know via the comments below.  Alternatively, if you have an idea for something that does not currently exist, we would love to hear from you!

(Top image is a collage by Alexis Romano taken from the Documenting Fashion website)

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You Should Be Reading: Fashion and the Future

fashion books from stellafluorescent.blogspot.com

This week’s You Should Be Reading column takes a look at the future of fashion through the lens of technology: what sorts of new advances in fashion design and consumption will be possible over the next decade or more? This is an interesting question when we consider the exponentially fast pace of tech developments in today’s world. And while many of these developments started with different applications in mind, the fashion world has used its inherent ingenuity to tweak such developments for its own purposes. We are the lucky consumers who benefit from such research. What does the future hold? These four recently published articles give you some idea. Enjoy!

1. Blázquez, M. (2014). Fashion shopping in multichannel retail: The role of technology in enhancing the customer experienceInternational Journal of Electronic Commerce, 18(4), 97-116. 

The difficulty of translating the in-store experience to the online environment is one of the main reasons why the fashion industry has been slower than other sectors to adopt e-commerce. Recently, however, new information technologies (ITs) have enabled consumers to evaluate fashion online, creating an interactive and exciting shopping experience. As a result, clothing has become the fastest-growing online category of goods bought in the United Kingdom. This trend could have serious consequences for brick-and-mortar stores. The aim of this quantitative research is to gain a better understanding of multichannel fashion-shopping experiences, focusing on the role of IT and the crossover effects between channels. In particular, the author explores the influence of the level of online experience on the perceptions and motivations of fashion consumers when they buy across multiple channels. The theoretical framework of hedonic and utilitarian shopping values is applied to measure consumers’ shopping experiences and shopping motivations to buy in different channels. The results from a quantitative survey of 439 consumers in the United Kingdom suggest the need to redefine the in-store shopping experience, promoting the use of technology as a way to create an engaging and integrated experience among channels. Retailers must think in all channels holistically, boosting interactive and new technologies for the Internet and taking advantage of all touchpoints with the consumer, including mobile devices and social networks. — Paraphrased Article Abstract

2. Gilgen, D., & Frankjaer, T. R. (2014). From wearables to soft-wear: Developing soft user interfaces by seamlessly integrating interactive technology into fashionable apparelDesign, User Experience, and Usability. User Experience Design Practice, 8520, 253-260.

The development of electronic features for use in apparel has advanced rapidly in recent years, and applications in athletic wear have been particularly successful. However, ‘Smart Fashion’ has not yet been integrated into everyday garments. In this paper the authors propose a new approach to the design of interfaces in Smart Fashion, which they refer to as the Soft User Interface (SUI). The ways in which e-textiles physically convey information differs greatly from traditional ways in that information is communicated via graphical user interfaces on computers, smartphones or on WearComp devices. As a result of their research, the authors advocate the use of iconic and indexical signs for Smart Fashion as these are widely accessible and understood. As an extension to this new interface paradigm, they expect that the harvesting of biometric data, including bodily gestures, will significantly extend the possibilities of SUIs. – Paraphrased Article Abstract

3. Nosu, K., & Ikeda, M. (2014). A preliminary analysis of item-selection behavior of Japanese female university students examining a 2D virtual fashion web site.  IEEJ Transactions on Electrical and Electronic Engineering, 9(5), 569-571.

E‐commerce is spreading into various fields in our daily lives as a result of the growth of interactive Internet communication technologies. Two‐dimensional computer graphics (2D CG) image presentations, which are simple and inexpensive, can be displayed directly on apparel e‐commerce sites. This study uses sequential pattern mining to analyze the item‐selection behavior of Japanese female university students examining a 2D virtual fashion Web site. It is found that most users did not initially examine their favorite category items; instead, they examined the commonly viewed items first, and then examined various other fashion items before making their final selection. – Full Article Abstract 

4. Sohn, M., & Bye, E. (2014). Exploratory study on developing a body measurement method using motion captureClothing & Textiles Research Journal, 32(3), 170-185.

This was an exploratory study on measuring body surface measurement change in motion using a motion capture system. The purpose was to test the reliability of a motion capture system as a new body measurement method, and to investigate body surface measurement changes in motion. Using an optical motion capture system, this study focused on the measurement changes on the back of the body while the subject performed an arm rotation test. The results of this study suggested that the motion capture system can be used as a body measurement method, especially for measuring the body in continuous movement. The results of the body surface measurement change in the arm rotation motion test showed that upper body measurements increased or decreased corresponding to the shoulder joint and scapula movement. The shoulder width (-38.45%), back width (16.08%), and back arc at the armpit (27.69%) exhibited the most change. – Full Article Abstract 

 

Image Credit: stellafluorescent.blogspot.com

Comments

Reader Survey 2014

chk

We would like to encourage our readers to participate in a brief survey about Worn Through. Quite a few years ago we did a similar survey and it helped shape the direction we took the blog.

Here is the link to do the survey

Thank you so much for taking the time to answer a few questions. It’s brief and would only take a couple of minutes. To keep things quick for you we did not include a lot of open commenting, however, we invite you to add any further comments to this post itself, and after the survey is over we’ll pick one person who commented at random and I will send you a copy of my book Punk Style (it does not have to be a glowing review of the blog to get the book!).

I’ll post this a few times and we’ll wrap it up the first week of September.

Again here is the survey link.

Comments

Seeking 2 New Interns

Worn Through is looking for 1 – 2 new interns to start as early as September or October and preferably work with us for the entire 2014-15 school year.

We are particularly looking for people who are comfortable with Twitter, academic journal articles, and those who want to help with finding and posting CFPs, interesting videos, doing research with contributors, and other tidbits our readers would enjoy.

We need someone who checks email daily and can be fairly quick in response time, although this is the type of position where you can do many of your tasks in chunks (such as pre-posting weeks’ worth of CFPs). Therefore we can work with your workplace or school schedule as long as you are a good email communicator. The ideal candidates are involved in the research/academic/history & culture side of apparel studies and want to continue in those fields. Although someone in marketing/trend research or similar may be great too.

Worn Through is a volunteer network of individuals who work as thriving museums, schools and doing independent research projects of all sorts, so this is a strong networking and professional experience opportunity for a student or new graduate. Many of our interns move onto nice jobs and/or become contributors here at Worn Through. Internships are unpaid, however we have worked it out with schools in the past to do any paperwork needed to get credit if that is an option for you. Also note we have 30-40,000 hits per month and almost 1000 Facebook fans so your efforts will be visible to the public and your hard work recognized. Also upon a strong job we are happy to write letters of recommendation.

Please email Dr. Monica Sklar with your CV and brief cover letter by September 15. Goal start date is October 1 or 15 latest. 

Comments

Reader Survey 2014

chk

We would like to encourage our readers to participate in a brief survey about Worn Through. Quite a few years ago we did a similar survey and it helped shape the direction we took the blog.

Here is the link to do the survey

Thank you so much for taking the time to answer a few questions. It’s brief and would only take a couple of minutes. To keep things quick for you we did not include a lot of open commenting, however, we invite you to add any further comments to this post itself, and after the survey is over we’ll pick one person who commented at random and I will send you a copy of my book Punk Style (it does not have to be a glowing review of the blog to get the book!).

I’ll post this a few times and we’ll wrap it up the first week of September.

Again here is the survey link.

Comments

Reader Survey 2014

chk

We would like to encourage our readers to participate in a brief survey about Worn Through. Quite a few years ago we did a similar survey and it helped shape the direction we took the blog.

Here is the link to do the survey

Thank you so much for taking the time to answer a few questions. It’s brief and would only take a couple of minutes. To keep things quick for you we did not include a lot of open commenting, however, we invite you to add any further comments to this post itself, and after the survey is over we’ll pick one person who commented at random and I will send you a copy of my book Punk Style (it does not have to be a glowing review of the blog to get the book!).

I’ll post this a few times and we’ll wrap it up the first week of September.

Again here is the survey link.

Comments