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?


Grow Your Own Clothes

Imagine growing “fabric” in a tank with tea, sugar and bacteria and converting it into a garment.That’s what is presented in this 6 minute video by fashion designer Suzanne Lee.
And she is not the first one to work with this process. Artist Nöle Giulini makes huge puppets and other artwork with home-grown kombucha fibers.

The aesthetics of the “fabric” takes some getting used to, but the benefits for the environment and social implications are astounding.

And once again I ask myself, aren’t the environment and social implications more important than aesthetics?

Where Things Come From – Fine Cell Works

Imagine a place where men with needle and thread stitch beautiful patchwork bags, embroidered linens, needlepoint pillows and quilts.  Now imagine that this place is inside a UK prison, thanks to an incredible program called “Fine Cell Works“, in which prisoners create delicate items to be sold through their website.

The program runs in 26 prisons across the UK and gives prisoners a chance to learn something new, make something meaningful and earn money while rebuilding their lives.

“Of all the aesthetic projects offered down the years to capture the imagination and tame the frustration of prisoners, fine needlework is one of the oddest. Yet it has worked, and borne fruit, and perhaps after all it is not surprising. Prisons even at their best are stark and utilitarian places. The chance to create a piece of ‘unnecessary’ beauty and send it out into the world is at once a defiance of that environment, and a good use of the time spent there.” – Fine Cell Work Patron Libby Purves

I love especially the last part, in which she talks about the defiance of the prison environment.

If you’d like to learn more about the work from a prisoners perspective Fine Cell Work’s website posts testimonials from the stitchers. Karl’s story is very moving and provides insight how the work changed his life behind bars and beyond.

Mike Albo in HandEye Magazine leaves us with these thoughtful words:

“If you put one (of these pillows) on your bed, the whole room will begin to ring with meaning. You will think about the unseen authors of everything else – the Indonesian seamstress who made your curtains, the underpaid Mexican migrant worker who hemmed your sheets – and you will also think about the power of art in general to transform lives and dispel demons.”

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