Over on her personal blog, our very own Jane Tweed turns her dressmaking skills to experimenting with Adafruit’s wearable electronics systems, and discovers some of the problems potentially faced by combining steel thread with lightweight cotton poplin.
We do love our fandom and interest related clothing here on Faschionism, and this post will be no different.
I found Cloud and Victory earlier this year due to my long, and continuing, search for ballet related clothing that wasn’t pink. They grabbed me with their Turn Up, Turn Out shirt (sadly now out of stock) and the only thing preventing me from getting their Jete tank is the fact that I am less skilled at them than the top might suggest.
At $40 for a shirt, $90 for a jumper and shipping from Singapore these aren’t cheap, but the shirts and the printing are top quality and their ethics statement goes some way to explaining the pricing.
I’ve loved science fiction and cyberpunk for as long as I can remember, and while I am primarily a book geek I have a huge soft spot for futuristic films and their fashion. There’s just something about the intersection of style and the utilitarian that gets me every time; lycra catsuits masquerading as smart fabric, aggressive silhouettes, the open guts of technology next to careful seams and tucks. With that in mind it’s not at all surprising that I fell head over heals for Anouk Wipprecht’s Spiderdress . I was a teenager in the 90’s and so cannot be swayed by mood rings or heat reactive fabrics, but the Spiderdress was the kind of thing that I’d been dreaming of for years.
It’s also not available for purchase (I suspect the price would make me faint even if it was) and much too far out of my skill range to re-create.
Fast forward through the visions of me intermittently sobbing and screaming at YouTube all the way to 2013 when Ada Fruit launched FLORA, their first wearable electronics platform. While it doesn’t mean that I can build creepy robot legs to keep people away from me, the components (batteries aside) are entirely waterproof which makes them functional for everyday use as you can wash whatever you make without having to take it apart first. While the pieces are on the whole purchased separately rather than in kits, Ada Fruit have a range of really interesting projects and suggestions on their website.
Each project comes with a full tutorial including circuit diagrams and the code required to make it work, they even include notes on which parts to change and how for different effects. What I consider to be the most exciting bit is that a reasonable number of the projects don’t require any soldering since all the components can be connected with conductive thread. FLORA is not branded in pink and nothing in the comprehensive guides makes me feel stupid for not knowing some of the basic skills for working with electronics such as, for example, how to solder. But the real clincher for me was that it’s all marketed as awesome. Even the basic projects look great, the Space Face LED Galaxy Makeup would look fabulous with anything in nebula print and I’ve got my eye on the Sparkle Skirt Project.
Presuming that I don’t bleed onto a circuit and electrocute myself, not being the most graceful of seamstresses, I’m looking forward to learning how to do some of the more complex projects. The GPS Jacket which lights up when you reach specified destinations looks like it would fit nicely into my sciencefictionfuture.
It seems as though with the Great British Storm of 2013 autumn has finally arrived. While I do believe that you can, and should, wear tweed all year round I can’t deny that British autumn weather is perfect for tweed jackets.
Whilst idly googling various permutations of “heritage, tweed jacket, women” (purely for research purposes) I was delighted to discover the Madderty Jacket by Blues & Browns. The rolled cuffs and high collar give the jacket just enough style to make it stand out against the heavy heritage fabric without losing the classic feel of the piece.
While I am not a fan of horror in general, I have been somewhat taken by the American Horror Story: Coven teasers.
I’ve always been a fan of plain lines in clothing and the teasers are showcasing how to do this style very neatly indeed. It’s reminiscent of the Sabina Bryntesson SS12/13 collection, clean silhouettes, crisp collars and fabulous witchy hats.
Sadly I’ve never been able to find the collection (or those hats) for sale, but take heart, her linkedin page shows that she’s currently working as a design assistant at H&M on everyday, basic jersey and knitwear. I haven’t seen anything this season which approaches the level of austerity in her SS12/13, it’s deceptively hard to do well and not hugely commercial I suspect; even my usual monochrome standbys Garth Pugh, Rick Owens and Yohji Yamamoto have let me down.
Nicolas Andreas Taralis is the closest I can find, with a collection showcasing A-line skirts, high waisted trousers and collared shirts. I find the wide sleeves look a little busy myself, and the fishnet pushes it further towards The Craft that I’d like, so although it’s a credible effort I shall be keeping my eye on the H&M knitwear section just in case.
A great deal has already been written and argued about and yelled about the use fan as an identity; how fans connect with texts and express that connection. I want to use this as a jumping off point, largely due to the fact that I already have a shelf of acafan books, to talk about the use of witty t-shirts in fandom.
While flicking through Fan Cultures by Matt Hills, it seemed like a good idea at the time, I found the sheer number of “words” used in “inverted commas” left me with something of a headache. I do understand the desire to qualify what we say, to ensure that it can be understood in it’s appropriate context, “but” “it” “can” “go” “too” “far”. In academic fandom this can be particularly problematic as we are often writing in several dialects, so to speak, and in an effort to avoid that particular style of prose here I will have to be general and subjective (and therefore in some cases, wrong).
Witty t-shirts, buttons, slogans and icons have been prevalent throughout my time in fandom (starting in 2000ish, the internet rather than classic BSFF zines-and-conventions) and frequently act as an online and real world flag of membership. They are frequently ironic or self referential, my favourite example is from Threadless “I supplement my personality with witty shirts” which says it all really. At the same time as marking the wearer as belonging to a subculture, these sorts of statements use irony to claim a kind of detachment from the risk entailed by caring enough to belong. They are multilayered messages of affiliation to texts and ideas and frequently show how the wearer wishes to be thought of by others. If you understand this then we have something in common.
It seems as though we are coming back round to the idea of identity as something constructed rather than innate and we know, or at least strongly suspect, that we will be judged on what we leave public. In media fandom as in politics (remember the fixation over Nick Clegg’s many ties after the 2010 election) people don’t wear clothes as much as they wear costumes, each one understood to be sending a message. Given the amount of time that we spend analyzing texts for clues it’s not terribly difficult to start turning that perception inwards. Witty t-shirts can be a way of claiming the right to judge yourself first on your passions.
Then, of course, there’s class to take in to account; this is Britain after all. Some fandoms are considered more respectable than others. While science fiction and fantasy are still questing for credibility, although we’re closer than we used to be, you can have what is for all intents and purposes Sherlock Holmes fanfiction taken very seriously as part of the British literary tradition even if it’s not exactly high culture. In “Bachies, Bardies, Trekkies, and Sherlockians” Roberta Pearson comments on the tension between the paraphernalia she owns which link to her interest in high culture as well as popular fandom
“a tiny cut-out Bard’s head floating above a blank and white picture of Anne Hathaway’s cottage. Just the thing for a postmodern academic Bardie who wants to declare an allegiance without committing a class faux pas.” (Pearson:2007)
It’s an interesting and self-deprecating example of the tension exhibited by the knowledge that what you do, even what you love, will be judged and therefore becomes a performance in and of itself. The irony is there as a nod to a judgment which has not yet been made by an imaginary audience; a way to protect yourself from any of the all-too-easy accusations that you risk whenever you wear your heart on your sleeve.
But back to those t-shirts, in two authors known to be affiliated with fandom, HP in particular, these crop up as markers for how we are to read the characters. In Valiant (Black:2005) Ruth wears a badge with a slogan from a well known piece of fandom parody and in Sarah Rees Brennan’s Demon trilogy(2009,2010,2011) each slogan is as lovingly recorded as the one liners lobbed by the relevant characters. They are aimed at a culture where it is understood that what we wear is linked to who we are.
Not Quite Standard Bibliography :
http://www.threadless.com/product/1671/I_supplement_my_personality_with_witty_shirts [online] [Accessed 21st September 2013]
Black, Holly (2005) Valiant : A Modern Tale of Faerie, New York: Simon & Schuster
Brennan, Sarah Rees (2009, 2010, 2011) The Demons Lexicon, Covenant and Surrender, New York: Simon & Schuster
Hills, Matt (2002) Fan Cultures. Wiltshire: Routlage (best read in small doses.)
Pearson, Roberta (2007) “Bachies, Bardies, Trekkies, and Sherlockians”. In Gray, Sandvoss and Harrington eds. Fandom : Identities and Communities in a Mediated World New York: New York University Press, 103-104