Archives for category: upcycling

Okay, fashionistas and fatshionistas, here’s my dilemma. I’ve been looking for office clothes with difficulty for over 40 years. What it is now is almost what it was then: basically men’s wear cut for women. Jackets. I’ve had short sleeved batik ones over sundresses, I’ve had khaki jumpsuits, zippered flight type jackets in Prince of Wales plaid (with matching bell bottoms, to be sure), long-sleeved midi length washable poly velvet Jane Avril dress for those parties I had to cover, you name it. One of my favorites was a hip academic outfit confected for a conference in Ireland: widewale corduroy leggings in eau de Nil, gigantic white cashmere sweater, knee length Wellingtons, and pink pearls. No nipples. And, after 25, no minis.

What it is now is what all the serious girls at the uni around the corner from where I used to live wore and wear: techno fiber pants (black, black or black), $100+ V-necked t shirt (dark, dark, dark or jewel), jacket (“), Rolex and ankle boots. My t shirts cost $9, my big black face Timex $30, and I can’t get my freakishly high arches into boots. No jewelry. Although my discovery of $8 necklaces at Forever21 is a big monkey wrench in my Afro Pomo Homo minimalist femme costume. Don’t forget the hair *cut* not a hair *do*.

Coming up, because it’s 400 degrees outside, an LBD with a black linen moto and ballet flats.

(Wouldn’t this $6.80 gigantic faux pearl necklace look awesome with my moto?
http://tinyurl.com/pd4jxdw

(I think perhaps not. One of the secrets of dressing the ancient avoirdupois is to let your wrinkles and your hair cut be the jewels.)

I am very interested in fashion and the cutting edge of future fashion, which as everybody knows is coming out of art schools in Britain, headed up by the late Alexander McQueen, with punk and artisanal references. He had some other references in there, also sublime. Part of the punk thing is sustainable, locavore, dumpster-diving, upcycled fashion, in which I am extremely interested. As we all know, street fashion drives couture. One of the biggest influences in street fashion since, I think, the Pointer Sisters started raiding the Good Will Stores of ’60s San Francisco for ’40s suits and ’30s panne velvet, is the Good Will. Now monetized by bottom feeder Hollywood stylists into “vintage” clothes, Good Will outfits worn by chic club kids have been fashion’s — and couture’s — leading influence. (All those chicken hawks like Lagerfeld and Galliano circle, cawing, over kids’ nightclubs.)

Courtesy of Alabama Chanin, who is selling a book called <em>Refashioned: Cutting Edge Clothing From Upcycled Materials, I have just perused the very interesting straight edge DIY books on how to turn old clothes into new ones.

Without exception, the new clothes are all performance wear. Nothing for the office. Extraordinary that paupers should be fashioning ball gowns out of t shirts. Why is this? I ask you.

The only actual instructions, for example, I’ve found for turning a man’s overcoat into a lady’s jacket or a child’s coat are in ‘40s WW2 British sewing dictionaries, discovered in Kate Davies’ wonderful blog, along with instructions on how to make underwear out of worn nightgowns and other useful information. It’s called Odham’s Big Book of Needlecraft.

I think the tailored recycling of good old clothes is because there were no throwaway clothes in those days, and also because fabric was rationed. I was born close enough to those times to have worn clothes made by seamstresses. I miss them, and I am stunned by the Harajuku ho tutus all those straight edge designers are making out of shitty old concert t shirts. Where are the upcycled work clothes?

It may be part of the Art School Confidential syndrome that every upcycled garment looks like a circus poodle outfit. I’m on it. Watch this space.

http://www.amazon.com/ReFashioned-Cutting-Edge-Clothing-Upcycled-Materials/dp/1780673019

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As a knitter, the Intelligent Craftafarian, as I call Kate Davies, is at the forefront of the British fashion sustainability movement (I say it’s punk, and it is spectacular). She has been asked by the awesome women who grow and shear their own sheep at Juniper Moon Farm in Charlottesville, VA to design a sweater made from heirloom hardy wool suitable for outerwear. (Dr. Davies gently sneers at the little girlie merinos, silk blends yet, that I’m crocheting useless little girlie garments with, which, she assures me, will pill and look ratty before they’re off the needle. So femme, my bad.)

The straight skinny on sustainable choices for fashion design. My theory is that the British art and fashion schools developed these curricula from straight edge punk culture. Alexander McQueen was the apotheosis of this.

There’s nothing I love more than a process story, about how things go from the sheep’s back to my back. The women will shear, card and spin the hardy wool, commission sweater designs from masters like Dr. D and then commission master knitters to make them. All by hand, for a sweater of hardy wool, barely twigless, that will outlast hard wear on your herring dinghy in the North Seas, perhaps, or digging peat on top of Ben Bleak, for perhaps three generations. Dr. D’s post touches too on the celebration of 21st century sheep farming as women’s work in the logo the ladies have designed, featuring ladies as both shepherd and shearer. (And sheep, too, I think. No nasty horns there.)

Juniper Moon Farm logo for their sheep-to-sweater project.
http://www.fiberfarm.com/2012/11/the-big-announcement

I can’t wait to see the heirloom/21st century Ninja shepherdess sweaters Kate and her colleagues design. This has set me to thinking about my local heirloom Navajo churro sheep, their hardy wool, and getting somebody to design an undyed fisherman’s type sweater based on Navajo designs.

From To Walk in Beauty: A Navajo Family’s Journey Home, by Stacia Spragg-Braude.

I’ve started reading from its beginning the blog of a young father and artist, who makes his living being one, who is also a big foodie. I’ve known two other fine artists well who also lived to cook, and who were wonderful gardeners. I think it’s the same engagement with materiality rather, I submit, than sensuality. Hmm. Marxist materialism?

I was inspired to read this guy’s blog through Punk Domestics, which concept I’m much interested in. The PD blog is basically about DIY preserving — meat, jam, canning. I was hoping it would have more home-made household cleansers and tips. I am interested to know how it differs from the Gen X peak oil survivalist bunkerites and the competitive tiger moms intent on banning all germs, toxins, and vaccinations from the lives of their autistic children before they give up the SUV. One clue is the punks are urban and arguably exogamous.

Artisanal Brooklyn is strongly implied, with rooftop gardening and urban farming , food coops like Rainbow Grocery run by the grey spikes rather than the grey ponytails, ghetto green guerrillas and communitarian gardens implicated. As opposed to bunkers far away from the scary black people.

An Oakland guerrilla green tells her tale.

I am much concerned about humane meat and am pretty much not reassured by Jamie Oliver’s snuff films, the allegation that that famous empath,  Zuckerberg, kills all his own meat and became a man eating chicken gizzards. Now it is alleged he wants to learn to hunt.

I am not reassured by urban farmers growing turkeys and pigs in their own tiny rowhouse back yards. I am often horrified in the punk/survivalist blogs at the ignorant inhumanity with which domestic animals are treated, exposed to every disease and predator by people who don’t have the money for proper feed, fences, pasture, waste management, and veterinarians. And brag about it. I actually called the humane society in a rural Montana county to sic them on people shamelessly abusing goats. I’m trying to figure out how to do it in France.

I am curious about the punk canning mentality.

This young man now makes his own salami and Edam or Gouda cheese, in the tradition of the hippie generation of chefs like Paul Bertolli, who Italified Chez Panisse,  and the Gen X granny chefs like Mario Batali, Manhattan’s hot chef, whose father retired after 30 years at Boeing to make salami. Punk Domestics had a year-long Charcutepalooza based on Ruhlman’s new meat-curing Bible. These are not your hippie grandpa’s peace-to-all-beings vegetarians. I would suspect their ethics less if they were nicer to their ghetto rowhouse animals, and if they ate more tripe.

I am reassured that Ruhlman et al., if not the punk domestics, have engaged with, and give recipes for, the Marxist materiality of pig’s blood, heads, and ears. It’s not just about the killing, Zuckerberg, or the Ozzy Osbourne machismo of biting the head off  something besides a Whopper. It’s about the dead and respecting every part. It’s about authenticity.

The earliest parts of the young man’s food blog are interestingly concerned with the transformation of leftovers into something else, vegan onion soup into calzones, for example. There was a brief post on the composition and color of the plating of the leftover risotto balls he’d made into arancini. This suggests more an upcycling, hoarding, thrifting, transsubstantiation, magpie, collageur mentality than an actually discriminating palate.

We’ll see. The question is, how much salami do you need in the apocalypse, and whether or not this DIY everything is a full employment mandate scam, as I suspect attachment parenting/breastfeeding the ambulatory is for SAHMs.

Ever since I noticed a back channel used car business, conducted entirely in cash and Espanol, running on Saturdays in the large suburban Maryland parking lot where the last outpost survives of a grand store, G Street Remnants, that fled the city for the burbs during the Martin Luther King riots, I have known parking lots were a beat.

I was not surprised to find a good number of Cambodian refugees manning the suburban cutting tables at the venerable fabric store.

I have also said, in a private blog, if I were a young reporter starting out I’d invent and cover the parking lot beat. I think all kinds of things take place there, including drug transactions, lovers’ lanes, dances, suburban teenage life, the entry level immigrant life (see back channel economy, above) whereby the brown peoples have taken over the close-in, formerly lily-white, burbs, and in which the D. C. snipers invented a new kind of crime which can paralyze the megalopolis.

Now comes a report, due out in March, from MIT urban planning professor Eran Ben-Joseph, called Rethinking a Lot, which proposes upcycling and greening parking lots, “the single most salient landscape feature of our built environment”.

You read it here first.


Police search highway verge at Seven Corners Shopping Mall in Virginia after the D.C. snipers, parked in a car across the four-lane highway, shot and killed Linda Franklin in the Home Depot parking lot. The motive was probably to frighten Mohammed’s former wife, who worked in a mall-based Michael’s hobby shop store.

Behind the cut, I have italicized the important propositions that greening the parking lots have for The New Economy.

The most important concept, not fully worked out in this NYT piece, is the pop-up or flash-mob day care center, one of the things the post office workers in the near-abandoned ’70s shopping mall in Fishkill, NY, told architects they wanted. These could be fabricated from school busses or RVs. Children don’t need play equipment or $100-a-square-foot soft-fall surfaces — they’re a boondoggle. Scores of unsupervised city children over the centuries have come up with asphalt games, well represented at the 2001 Smithsonian folk life festival which feattured New York City, ranging from street hockey to jumprope, broomstick/Spaldeen softball, the paraffin-filled bottle cap game, whose name I’ll be Googling in a minute. Skully.

Before he became a physician and a PhD. in education, Bill Cosby was a kid playing football between the cars on the streets of Philadelphia.

I think any reporter who spent time in a parking lot where back channel economies are practised, nights and weekends, would discover, for example, back channel soccer leagues where important community projects — job markets, fake IDs — are played forward as vigorously as the second-hand soccer balls. While I didn’t love Tom Wolfe’s last novel but one or two, A Man in Full, it was important in ways no other prose writer — except perhaps Ehrenreich, in Nickeled and Dimed — is aware of. For this, Wolfe is still, aged 193, a reporter to watch, for the as-yet undeveloped insight that the back channel, or Blade Runner, economy is where we’re all headed.

It takes place in parking lots. Be there or be square.

Pamphlet on <a href=”http://www.laforum.org/content/publications/pamphlet/dead-malls-pamphlet”>2003 Dead Malls competition</a> which Interboro, the Brooklyn architectural firm cited in the Kimmelman piece, seems to have won.

Copyright Jeannette Smyth, 2012, All Rights Reserved.

Kimmelman’s NYT Parking Lot Piece

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