So writes Virginia Postrel in her article for Aeon "Losing the Thread." "Textile production," she quotes archeologist Elizabeth Barber, "is older than pottery or metallurgy and perhaps even agriculture and stock-breeding."
Cloth is one of the original currencies, and was of greater value than even objects carved from precious metals. While textiles haven't survived the centuries, the clay spindle whorls and loom weights have, and tell of a Minoan kingdom in Crete rich in cloth with a economical division of labor that would rival modern factories.
This rich overview of the textile industry is worth taking the time to read. It serves as a great reminder of the disruptions that happen in any industry and how these disruptions affect those who work in the trade.
Which leads to the other interesting thing I read this week. The NY Times reports that the Gap, synonymous with affordable chic casual clothing, is shuttering 175 stores and eliminating 250 corporate jobs. Now, there is a lot of competition in the mid-range clothing market, and the Gap leadership has identified all sorts of failings - like "a lack of optimism in the brand" - that has affected sales and chased away loyal customers. I love that kind of corporate speak.
It makes me wonder though, is the new attention paid to "cheap fashion" affecting the old stalwarts? It's hard to imagine a world without the Gap. When we worked in NYC one summer in the 90's, a Gap store could be found every time you turned a corner. But now I'm starting to question whether our newfound joy in making things for ourselves is starting to affect the clothing industry. If the Gap's target market is professional 20-30 somethings, and some of those women having taken up making their own clothes - not entirely - but curtailing their shopping to some degree, how is that affecting the market? What is the tipping point and who survives this industry shift?
When we organize classes, I always think about what students will walk away with. Sometimes, it's just a fun creative exercise with a finished product to take home - some Pinterest joy. Other classes will open doors to an entirely new creative outlet. My mom took the Kumihimo weaving class, went home and wove a necklace to hang one of the lucky stones she finds when traveling. We have a mother/daughter team who have taken all of the sewing classes we've offered. They started out not knowing how to operate their machine and moved quickly to garment making in Maya*Made's skirt class. I have a few friends who are now obsessively Zentangle drawing, posting lovely finished pieces on Facebook.
Making stuff makes you happy. I keep saying it because it's true. And half the fun of making stuff is the planning prior to execution - the consideration of possibilities. One thing that I've found invaluable in classes is that once you're there surrounded by other creative folks, you just have to jump in, you can't wait for a better idea to materialize. Once you've done that a few times, you get more comfortable with the process of getting started on your own.