10.27.2013

Work Table : The Dress ... for lack of a better name for now

Over the past month I've been processing all of the sewing I did over the summer into a new piece. I'm working on a dress, but not an ordinary dress. This one is made up of sixty four pieces of clothing. These sixty four castoffs (from my and my friend's closests) represent the amount of clothing that the average American purchases every year. I learned this little fact from reading Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion by Elizabeth Cline.  Ponder this for a moment. That's over one new article of clothing a week. Really? It's hard to visualize, no? Hopefully, this dress will help us see it for what it is.


The images show only twelve pieces of clothing at this stage, a far cry from sixty four. And yes, that will be some train coming off the back.


Most of us are guilty of buying a lot clothes these days, myself included. It took me an entire year to figure out why I wasn't wearing half the clothes in my closet. It's because after one wash, they never look as good as they did on the rack. In fact, they look terrible. Oh yeah, it's because they're cheaply made! So the clothing languishes in my closet, unworn.


This dress also won't be worn, unless I want to break my back wearing it. But, hopefully, it will make a statement about how much we're wasting with the 'fast fashion' movement. We will be able to see it with our own eyes.


And now I need to come up with a name for the dress or, perhaps the project, if it turns into one. I ponder that as I sew it together. Yes, I'm handsewing it. With a visible, bright red thread, of course.

12 comments:

ronnie said...

marvelous!

a few months ago I watched a doco on our TV about the high cost of cheap fashion - particularly focusing on what's been happening in Bangladesh (eeeek!) it was a real eye opener

I look forward to seeing how your dress/project develops

Sweetpea said...

Have been thinking so much on this topic of late. A sense of futility descends when all the gory [true life] details come to light, but what you have going on here is a way out of all that ...

india flint said...

Sweetpea sent me here...most of my clothes [for myself and for resale] are made from thrift store finds. it's amazing how much you can find there of excellent quality that seems hardly to have been worn.

your dress is looking fabulous...

Ersi Marina Samara said...

I love your sensibility to social issues and the creative way you tackle them. This idea for a dress is wonderful and I keep trying to think of a name for it but I'm a bit awed by your work right now to come up with anything interesting.

Sophie Truong said...

Love this! I did my last sculptures using discarded clothes with the same idea in mind. Definitely something to bring awareness too. Can't wait to see how it evolves.

kathrynclark said...

How wonderful to hear your supportive comments, everyone! I really appreciate them and love hearing your personal relationships with clothing and fast fashion. @Sophie, I remember your series very well, you are a master with sculpture! And if anyone has any brilliant ideas for a name, I'd love to hear them! Thanks!

Flaming Nora said...

Keep coming back to this post to have another look. So thought provoking. I keep coming back to the issues and ideas surrounding mass produced clothing at the moment. Trying to work out a way of having affordable wardrobe that isn't all from secondhand shops, that fits well and doesn't leave me chained to the sewing machine any more than the 10 hours a day I'm already there! I think I have it nearly sussed for my self, but for children its a little overwhelming!

lola ruiz said...

Looking your sculpture makes me feel "the weight of fashion" on our own body.
I buy only the necessary years ago and it was liberating. To me shopping is a way of searching and looking for beauty in ourselves and our lives and clearly it has bad consecuences because our cultural narrow idea of beauty (perfection, idealism, romantic).
But there are more than enough and real beauty in us and our lives if only we could look with diferent eyes.
In your scupture the weight of so many dress evoke in me the weight of chains

Carol Leigh said...

Wonderful work Kathryn, and fabulous commentary Lola.
Perhaps the title could be had from some of the ideas in Lola's post - my thought keep coming back though Kathryn to the part of your post that says "this dress also won't be worn" , as a statement about the fact that so many wardrobes contain so many unworn garments.
Inspiring and thought provoking, thankyou.

kathrynclark said...

Such great points, Lola, Nora and Carol. So many great ideas to ponder regarding a name. I love hearing your thoughts on it all, it's so helpful!

Victoria said...

Fabulous theme.

I admit I am shocked at the 64 figure. I would say that I average less then a dozen a year, and some are thrifted. However, I also don't need to dress up for work, so I can get away with it.

The new clothing that is sold in stores, (at affordable prices) are so poorly made. Holes appear after just the first couple of wearings. I don't remember this being a problem as a kid... of course that was back when they still aired commercials on TV filled with American unionized garment employees, proudly singing, "Just look for the Union Label..."

However, I think the overconsumption would still be problematic in today's culture even if the quality of clothing was higher. People - just - buy - so - much - STUFF. It boggles my mind.

I think advertisers have done a bang-up job convincing the general public that they are inadequate, (and much of social media helps spread the feeling) and that fulfillment and happiness are only a purchase away. It's every sad.

kathrynclark said...

Victoria, what you say is so true, mass marketing media are all a part of it. It just opens up a can of worms, doesn't it?! 64 is mind boggling, I'm about where you are, 12ish items of clothes a year is about my max but I don't buy anything anymore because it's all so horribly made!

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