(un)Fashion: Creativity and Translations

Hard to believe that the book (un)Fashion hadn’t yet made its appearance  into my house and blog until this weekend when a friend brought it to my attention.

(un)Fashion presents a kaleidoscope of people from different cultures and portrays how they dress and adorn themselves away from the fashion shows and chain stores.  It refreshingly ignores  the Western conventional view of what’s beautiful and what’s not. Tibor Kalman, one of the graphic geniuses of the 20th century and  editor-in-chief of Colors magazine and his wife, illustrator Maia Kalman created this stunning gem of a book.

Take a look:

Some of the images remind me vaguely of this book: Natural Fashion: Tribal Decoration from Africa by Hans Silvester, which I blogged about in one of my first posts back in 2010. I’ve always been fascinated by culture and its expressions through fashion, music, film, art  and language.

Right now I’m busy working with languages;  another area that fascinates me since I first learned English 35 years ago in small town Germany . Currently I’m exploring different ways and avenues how to make language learning more accessible, fun and effective using a variety of tools including technology/art/music etc. (Which, by the way is a great excuse for reading French Vogue extensively and spend time watching foreign language soap operas on Netflix.)

Trying to understand what it takes to learn a language is fun and frankly quite creative.  Creating is closely linked to the process of translating or transforming an idea into “an expression”. Without a doubt, creating and translating have a close relationship.

These days I’m in the process of re-orienting myself and re-evaluating this blog, looking into ways of making it more into a cultural exploration.

As an example, here is one interesting clip from the Indonesian version of “The X-Factor”.  The clash between the singer’s voice, her selected music, the format of the show (exported to more than 40 countries)  and her dress display exactly the kind of cultural mélange that interests me.

Once I have a clearer picture of where this exploration takes me I’ll be back.

ISBN-10: 0810992299
ISBN-13: 978-0810992290
Tibor Kalman (Author), Maira Kalman (Author)


ESMOD – Sustainability in Fashion

If I lived in Berlin, I’d definitely go to the ESMOD Fashion Show on October 13 – 14.

ESMOD is the International University of Art for Fashion and offers an International Masters Programme for Sustainability in Fashion.

At its Berlin branch, twelve pioneering students will showcase their work, which will include a collection of sneakers made from Austrian Lederhosen to celebrate sustainability and culture. Just that alone is a reason to go. Another has created a luxury collection in cooperation with an Nepalese NGO using banana fibre, wood and metal for textiles and accessories. And those are only two of the many brilliant ideas.

So if you’re in Berlin and curious of latest ideas in the world of sustainable fashion, this is for you. Meet the young designers in the video below, or see them in person at the show.

Saturday 13th October 12:00 – 18:00
Sunday 14th October 12:00 – 16:00

PLATOON Kunsthalle
Schönhauser Allee 9
10119 Berlin

Think Twice

Have you ever wondered why there are no good online second hand stores? Of course, there’s Ebay and Etsy, but it’s not easy to browse and sort for clothes.

Well, that all changed in the spring of 2011, when “Twice” was born. A brainchild of two former Google employees, at Twice you can buy and sell your lightly used clothes in an easy and fun way. Shipping your used clothes to them is free. Just let Twice know what items you’re selling, they calculate shipping and offer a prepaid label. They also estimate the price they will pay for your clothes. Very clever. Shopping is equally easy. Every item is presented with three different views and  measurements are provided to facilitate fit. They offer dresses, tops, jeans, pants and skirts which can be sorted by size, color, brand, etc.

Twice is like shopping in a good second hand store with clothes from Gap, Anthropologie, Topshop, J. Crew etc. I wouldn’t buy any of these brands first hand, because a) I hate going to the mall and b) I’d rather buy second hand. Curiously I have much less of a problem with Topshop and the likes, when someone else has bought it before me and already worn it. When an item is already produced and purchased, I want to extend its life span as much as possible, by wearing it, up-cycling it and/or mending it.

And finally, are not many of the ethically produced clothes now produced in China, India, Bangladesh and other countries with cheap labor and lax laws for environmental protection? Do we really know where our clothes are coming from?

Am I supporting the production of cheap clothes by buying these very brands second-hand?

Creating Islands of Slowness: Slow Textile Group

Above is the lookbook of the Slow Textile Group; a social enterprise whose purpose is to promote the creation, enjoyment and appreciation of textiles through exhibition, education, innovation, application and debate.

Everyone is welcome to join and together the group explores the many possibilities of how to change the textile industry in both big and small ways. Anyone with an interest in textiles professional or amateur can take part. Annual memberships start at £40 GBP.

Isn’t that an interesting way to connect people?

One part of the group is the Slow Design School, which offers an even more in-depth educational experience, with a unique combination of study, dialogue, support, skills development and intellectual honing to prepare students for the creative industry in the UK.

Being slow in a fast paced world presents its own challenges as many of you know. Embroidery and hand-sewing and in fact most manual craft techniques are very slow and it often seems impossible to make a living at it.

Ezio Manzini, a pioneer of sustainable design once said that “because everything moves so fast and we cannot stop it, we have to create some islands of slowness.”

Islands of slowness. I love the sound of that.

Alabama Studio Sewing + Design

When Natalie Chanin’s latest book “Alabama Studio Sewing + Design” arrived at my mailbox yesterday, my heart skipped several beats (don’t worry, I’m fine now). It’s her third book about hand-sewing and creating a sustainable wardrobe; and although I said this about her last book, this one is my all time favorite. It features an […] Read more »

“Money is the Cheapest Thing…”

“If you don’t take money, they can’t tell you what to do. Money is the cheapest thing. Liberty and Freedom are the most expensive.” Anna Wintour, editor in chief of Vogue once said that “we all dress for Bill”.  Bill is Bill Cunningham, an 82-year old street fashion photographer for the NY Times, who bicycles […] Read more »

Japanese Tunics and Muumuus

Remember the Japanese tunic patterns from the Nani Iro website? I finally decided to make this tunic over the weekend. Japanese patterns are supposed to run small, right? Well, this one did not. Instead I’ve created what seems to be a “Muumuu”. In case you don’t know, a muumuu is a dress of Hawaiian origin […] Read more »

Fashion Dilemmas

While in winter’s firm grip, my thoughts turn to what to wear in spring. With every passing year I ask myself: “Can I “still” wear this?” It started around my 42nd birthday when grey hair made its first appearance. Do you wear the same kind of clothes now as when you were younger? Or for […] Read more »

Downton Abbey and Toddler Suits

How on earth did we move from this: to this: in only a hundred years. The image above was taken from a “Forever Lazy” commercial which is just as bad as it looks. I wanted to spare you watching the clip, but if you need some comic relief, here it is. Over-sized toddlers eating junk […] Read more »

Fast Fashion: 9 Outfits

illustration (c) Lena Corwin Did you know that only 3% of our apparel is produced in the United States nowadays? I knew the number was low, but 3%? That’s down from 90% in 1955 according to Elizabeth Cline‘s article “History of the Dress” on Etsy. “In 1930, the average American woman owned an average of nine outfits. […] Read more »