Category Archives: OUR JUNK DRAWER

OF ANOTHER FASHION Tote Bag and Giveaway

As most of you know, I have another online project called OF ANOTHER FASHION that began several years after Threadbared launched. The crowdsourced project is doing so well (over 3oo submissions and 104,000 followers) that I decided to celebrate this milestone with a tote bag. (In some respects, I favor tote bags over traditional handbags and shoulder bags for their practicality and easy stylishness. Yes, I just wrote that: “easy stylishness”. Whatevs. You know what I mean.)

To purchase a tote bag, head to my Etsy store, Atelier Savant! Thanks!

Fun fact: there was a short period of time when me and a friend – a fellow academic – considered very seriously throwing in the professorial (but not scholarly) towel and opening an online clothing store called l’Atelier Ecole. I’ve rejigged that name for my Etsy shop, kind of as an homage to this earlier imagined life. (Atelier Savant is The Scholar’s Studio, in French).

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The Seam Ripper Comes Out at Night

This month, I’ve been loving my friend Jessamyn Hatcher’s research, called “Deep Wearing: Affect, Materiality, and the Politics of Fashion.” Her exploration of the post-consumption life of clothing with regard to the environment, human emotion, and to the materiality of the garment itself is not only creative, her approach is smart and utterly elegant.  A case in point is the Human-Textile Wellness Pop-Up Clinic she’s organized in Florence, Italy and in New York City. The Pop-Up Clinic is “an action research lab that documents people’s relationships to their clothing.” Put another way, it’s a space in which “the human-thing relationship” is reemphasized, reactivated, and restored through two significant, if undervalued, modes of fashion production: garment (re)construction and sartorial talk-story.

People are invited to visit the Pop-Up Clinic to repair, alter, or transform a garment (or some other textile). Along with this garment, she asks that you bring a “worn story” (a term Jessamyn borrows from Emily Spivack) about your “human-thing relationship”. Guests are asked to fill out an intake form that includes such questions as “How long have you and your garment been together?” and “How did you and your textile meet?” Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to make it out to the clinic – I was out of town for the last one – but her project has nonetheless stirred my intellectual, affective, and crafting sartorial imaginary. Truth be told, I don’t have much of a crafty sartorial self. Aside from the occasional pant or skirt hem and a canvas tote bag (a final project in a 3-week sewing class), I DO. NOT. SEW.  Yet, after engaging with Jessamyn’s work several times this month, I bought a few yards of the most supple (faux) black leather I could afford, dug my seam ripper out of the junk drawer in my kitchen, and last night, I “reactivated” my relationship to a dress Mimi gave me that I’ve been on a “break” with for about 3 years.

I don’t think of myself as sentimental about things – which is ironic since OF ANOTHER FASHION demonstrates I’m clearly sentimental about other people’s things and their preservation of verbal and material fashions. But living in New York City where closet space is always at a premium might give some context to my attitude towards my own “stuff”. In fact, I don’t even have a closet – just a commercial-grade garment rack that barely fits in my bedroom. Yet, this dress stayed in my closet for years, even surviving a move back across the country.

There are a lot of elements of this dress that I love: it’s a shift dress with long sleeves, it’s bluish gray, it has an open split back and a sheer triangle-shaped cut-out panel that plummets down to the (or at least my) navel. What I love less about the dress is that the cut-out is a modesty panel covered with a grayish blue (as opposed to bluish gray, and yes, there’s a difference) chiffon. I wore the dress once on a dinner date and was happy to have it. Still, it wasn’t much later that I began planning ways to alter the dress. I’m just not a chiffon sort of person. I tend towards darker colors and heavier material (with regard to clothes). So I spent some time – a lot of time – studying the construction of the front panel and with great trepidation, started taking apart the dress. Once the chiffon was out, I hand-sewed the leather in place. Anyway, I’m pretty happy with it – at least the mistakes aren’t perceptible from the outside. I’d try it on for you but summer humidity has enveloped New York City, turning my apartment into a 2-bedroom sauna and this dress into a wool blanket. . . So what do you think?

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Long Time Gone, Come Back Around

Soon after I last posted on punk pants (one of my favorite posts thus far), the wonderful Hellen Jo sent me a set of buttons I’d ordered with her portraits of Korean all-girl group 2NE1, and made me this awesome envelope to boot! (I still look like this on the inside.) And after that last post, I took a long vacation from Threadbared. It was semi-planned, but still sorta accidental — I just had too much to do elsewhere. But most of that is done –or done enough!– and I’m hoping to return to some sort of schedule here. I’m teaching The Politics of Fashion again this semester (with some students who know what I mean about punk pants too!), and I’m optimistic about what I might encounter during the next few months.

My photographs didn’t do justice to these rad three-inch buttons, so I have borrowed Hellen’s. (All sold out, though!) If only these could be my teaching looks this semester (though I do some that are very close…).



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TGIF, But Are You Wearing Pants?

This infographic from Buzzfeed asks an important question worth considering as the weekend approaches – also, it’s hilarious!

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The “Blogging Muumuu” is Genius

Jezebel somewhat cheekily calls FLOTUS’ garb the “blogging muumuu” – and I couldn’t agree more! I could write for days in that thing!

I don’t know why so many photos of bloggers show them perched at their laptops decked out in skinny jeans and spiky shooties. How does anyone write like that? My own writing posture involves either sitting at a desk, with one foot on the chair and the other outstretched under the table or sitting on a bed, under the covers, with the computer on my lap. Big dresses, soft cotton rompers, and yes, at times, flexible waistbands (as in my sister’s scrubs) are all that this blogger wears to write.  You?

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Fashion Commerce and Community, We the People Fashion Collective

There’s certainly no shortage of women’s clothing boutiques in Manhattan’s Lower East Side, but Vera Ng’s We the People (156 Stanton, at Suffolk) is unique because its reason for being isn’t simply to sell clothes. “Ng created We the People as a safe haven for emerging designers. Much more than a boutique, the space acts as a consultancy, communal clubhouse, and showroom, all in one.” To that end, We the People has been an important launching pad for new and mostly local designers, as well as a point of knowledge transfer among designers about where to find the best zippers, which new sewing room has just opened, etc. Such information is exchanged over dinners hosted by Vera. How cool is that?

I was introduced to Vera and her lovely store yesterday afternoon while killing time waiting for a table at Clinton Street Bakery with my good friend Thuy Linh (whose forthcoming book is, in part, about the social and political economic histories that led to the opening of Asian-run boutiques like Vera’s). While I waited for Thuy Linh to try on an EKG  tank top by LauraLou (on sale for $26.60), Vera and I talked about how business has been since they opened in May and also about the Made in Midtown project which, it seems to me, the community-based mission of We the People is so closely aligned. While Vera admits business has been a little slow, We the People has already gotten wonderful press in a number of blogs including New York Magazine’s The Cut, Daily Candy, and Racked so she has reason to be optimistic. (Unlike these other sites, Threadbared is not in the habit of profiling stores but Vera’s mission is so wonderful that I had to do a small post about it.)

By the way, if you dash into We the People while waiting for your table at Clinton Street Bakery or any other nearby restaurant, watch your time. The 30 minute wait went by way too fast while we were chatting with Vera and pawing at the amazing clothes on stock and so we lost our table. Blast.

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Return of the Prodigal Blogger

Walking away from a successful shopping trip to Rough Trade East in London.

I’m back from my nearly month-long work-vacation to London, during which I met some lovely scholars from all over at the “Beyond Citizenship: Feminism and the Transformation of Belonging” conference at Birkbeck, crammed in museums (where I marveled at both the collections and the near-total absence of colonial self-reflection), dance performances (ranging from terrible, competent, and moving), much record shopping (in the photograph above, I am strolling away from Rough Trade West having purchased all kinds of music, including some great ’70s New York no wave recordings), and an unfortunate viewing of Twilight: Eclipse (which caused much despair amidst the groans and the giggling).

After a week of horrible jet-lag, I’m just starting to make a work schedule for myself, which includes Threadbared, of course! I do have some posts in various stages of preparation in the pipeline, including further thoughts on prison and dress reform, sartorial-racial profiling and the ever-increasingly blurred distinction between police and military operations, and what we might discern about aesthetics, politics, and the disturbing figure of the sleep-walker in the recent dust-up around Rodarte, MAC, and “Juarez”-gate. All love to Minh-Ha for holding down the blog during my absence!

Meanwhile, I’ve been catching up on my blog-reading, including Fashion for Writers and Jenny Z’s her critique of the new “Shanghai Dreamers” campaign from Dior, in which all the Asians are uniform and uniformed clones, all the better to set off and distinguish the Dior-clad white beauty. As Jenny writes of this showdown between the familiar tropes of Chinese collectivism and Western individualism (and the whole post is full of similar win):

In the case of Dior’s ‘Shanghai Dreamers,’ the conformity and the old-fashioned appearance of the rows and rows of repeated Chinese faces and bodies only serve to constitute a visual record of the Western world’s construction and affirmation of self through the racial and cultural other. If Chinese people from a certain era (and to be quite uncharitable, I don’t believe Christian Dior knows what era of Chinese photography and life he is referencing when he says, “My inspiration came from a certain Chinese style of group photography but these ceremonial photographs marks a departure from a certain historical period and herald the future,”) represent how oppressive Chinese society is and how indistinguishable Chinese people are, then it must mean that European and American societies are so free and liberated and individualized!

(EDITED TO ADD: For good measure, Sociological Images has a post examining advertising featuring “undifferentiated groups of Asians as props.”)

Also, greatness can be found in Definatalie’s post, “The best argument against the evidence of democracy in fashion is a conversation with a fat woman,” and Julia’s ultra-smart ruminations on the figure of the black-clad anarchist, as well as the undercover police officer, sparked by the most recent round of G20 Summit protests.

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