Wednesday, October 24, 2012

styling with Crow


As you may have noticed, my friend Crow has his own unique way of dressing - comfortable yet elegant - but he's not averse to examining new human fashion trends. He tells me that most clothing he sees in the modern west has been tending toward boring and ugly these past few decades and in hopes of encouraging me to dress with a little more panache, he produced this picture of himself posing happily with a couple of young women he met on the street in Tokyo a few years ago. I'm not quite sure I'm ready for this level of style, it was the fine workmanship and beautiful fabrics of 1930's garments that still inspire me, but I can see his point. The only problem is that it's next to impossible to find clothes that are stylish and well made these days and even spending lots of money just means you're likely to end up with a name brand hoodie.

Did you know:

In the past 50 years fiber consumption has gone from 10 million tons a year to 82 million tons.

Synthetic fibers account for 70% of all clothing.

The average shopper buys 64 items of clothing a year.

The average shopper throws away 70 pounds of clothing every year.

Charity shops only put up for sale about 20% of donated clothing. The rest is sent to what is euphemistically called recycling but is actually a dump or landfill.

Do you have problems finding good clothes these days? Did you ever or do you still sew? It seems to me a lot of fabric stores have gone the way of the dodo in recent years but there are still a few. Since most young people don't learn how to make or alter their own clothes anymore I was interested when Crow told me about a booming little business in Paris that's set up like an internet cafe. Called the Sweat Shop, it has ten sewing machines you can rent by the hour or the day as well as a giant work table and many of the accessories you'd need to make something unique of your own to wear. Naturally, since it's in Paris, there's food, drink and cool places to sit and chat - probably some skilled advisors around too. It seems like such a good idea should spread a lot further.

What do you think?

22 comments:

clairesgarden said...

having just lost a lot of weight I am now down to only a few outfits that fit. I have decided to try not buying any more till I have a 'home'. wash and wear, couple of changes of horsey wear, one reasonable out for a day pair of jeans and one good pair of jeans with a fancy top.
not much 'fashion' going on with me.... however i did buy myself a very cosy dressing-gown. wearing it now!

Life As I Know It Now said...

I love dressing up and Goodwill and second hand shops are the best places to find pieces to wear. Newer clothing is not as well made but if something doesn't fit quite right you can always alter it or have someone alter it for you. I never learned to sew.

I don't like some of the styles I see now-a-days which either means I'm getting too old and set in my ways or I just don't fancy being uncomfortable all that much. Clothes should fit well but it seems as if the very style itself is supposed to be ill fitting. I also don't like the fashion whereby grown women are supposed to pretend to be little girls. Ew, just ew!

marja-leena said...

I guess I'm not average for I don't buy much clothing, mostly because I can't find anything I like! Too much polyester, not enough cotton and a difficult to fit body. Too clingy for me or too "old" - I seem to be in a no-woman's land! I used to sew a lot but now find I'm so rusty that it takes too long. I do have quite a stash of fabrics bought in the heyday of numerous fabric stores, rare these days as you say. I know, I need to get back to sewing. That shop in Paris sounds great for those without a sewing machine.

I've always suspected that much of the used clothing I've donated did not reach a body in need, and you've now confirmed it.

Are you planning to see something lovely with some of your beautifully dyed silks, Susan?

jams o donnell said...

AH I can barely sew on a button

susan said...

General circumstances, including the fact that if I haven't felt like wearing a particular thing for years it's not worth keeping, have left me with fewer articles of clothing than probably any other time in my life. I'm okay with that. You're right that it's very important to have a nice dressing gown.

susan said...

There are a couple of nice vintage shops nearby that tempt me to buy but so far I've resisted the urge. One of these days I'm sure it will happen because they're about the only places left where you can find clothes that are well made. Nowadays just about everything is designed for very young women and you're right that older women look ridiculous in tights and tiny skirts. My mother used to describe it as mutton dressed like lamb :-)

susan said...

I don't buy much either and I certainly don't follow that norm I mentioned about buying 64 items and throwing away 70 pounds. I like clothes but I'm also in that no-woman's land when it comes to shopping now that even the formerly 'good' stores no longer are. You have to be very motivated to sew or it's usually just too much of a chore to contemplate. What I'm considering though, is remaking some older pieces - maybe even incorporating some of that silk you mentioned.

I'm sure someone with your excellent taste still has some very nice things to choose from.

susan said...

I'm sure your Shirl takes care of those jobs.

Randal Graves said...

Definitely a good idea, but I'm one to wear my collection of band t-shirts until they're nice and full of holes, so fashion is beyond me.

Don QuiScottie said...

Hello again. I used to visit here on occasion, when I was known as Andrew, but then I rather drifted away. Now, propmted by Jams' bloglist, I have had a look around again and am glad to see that you have lost none of your quirkiness (or do I mean quirkyness?). Either way, it was nice to see how you and the enigmatic crow are getting along (or are you crow?). Whatever, good wishes.

Francis Hunt said...

The human urge to decorate oneself is, fundamentally, a very beautiful thing. Brand fetishism is, on the other hand, sick. Companies like Adidas and Nike sell products which are a often the result of massive exploitation of people in developing countries with mark-ups of thousands of percent.

Gina Duarte said...

I've been entertaining the idea of buying a sewing machine, since the two that were here have grown legs and walked away with a couple of daughters.

I grew up with sewing, as my mother worked at home when I was very young sewing men's suits parts for a tailor to assemble. I love fabric and I miss the bit of sewing I used to do with my mother. When I was expecting Meredith, we made three loose dresses that turned out very well. My mother made my wedding dress and I remember staying up with her very late sewing on tiny pearls on the trim of it.

I love the idea of a sewing cafe! Leave it to the French to have such cool ideas. I hope the sewing cafe idea spreads to U.S. cities. I could easily see Boston being a perfect place for one.

susan said...

Yes, game t-shirts too. I live with someone whose sartorial habits are similar.

susan said...

I haven't forgotten and it's good to see you again, Andrew. There's still crow and Crow - occasionally I'm not quite sure which is which but we still enjoy our mutual quirkiness in good company.

susan said...

I wonder if those days of world-wide exploitation aren't coming to an end now that so many of the world's workers are showing signs of rebellion. It's still a major problem though with Wal-Mart being the worst offender.

susan said...

I still think sewing is a great thing but the time management problem is a difficult obstacle to overcome these days and too is the fact a lot of clothing in stores is cheaper than the cost of materials.

It's a great activity to share with someone else and I'm delighted to know you took to it the way you did. I bet you and your mother will always remember making your wedding dress.

Sewing cafes belong in a lot of cities - including this one.

gfid said...

I'm afraid i'm a bit spoiled since my daughter bought a ladies' shop - especially since i stopped working at the ReStore and must dress professionally for my new job. .... but i can't imagine buying so many clothes, and throwing away so much! i get attached to my clothes and like them to be well made so they last a long time. a few versatile things that mix'n match are what i aim for.... and there are well made things to be found. i have to say that i find today's clothes, especially knits (yes, made from synthetic fibers) very comfortable and flattering on my middle-aged lumpy body. gorgeous tunics and loose fitting tops and sweaters are easy to find, and comfy, and i love the tights and boots that are so popular... no need to wear a mini. leave that for the kids. and i LOVE that nothing needs to be ironed.

the sewing cafe sounds like a lot of fun. making time for regular sewing is on my wish list for the not-too-distant future. i have a long-treasured stash of gorgeous hemp/cotton/silk blend fabrics i can't wait to wear, and i love finding beautiful fabrics in second-hand stores and re-making things into something new.

Rob-bear said...

Must confess I'm not much at sewing. But with big paws like mine, holding a needle is darned hard, especially for darning. Or buttons.

But I'm with Crow. Some people are so dressed down, they're almost in their unmentionables, figuratively speaking. But you can tell Crow that I, at least, usually wear one of my vests, with my pocket watch, when I'm out and about. And I've received compliments about maintaining something of a dying art in fashion. (People can be nice to a Bear.)

Phantsy that, eh?

susan said...

Right at the moment I probably have fewer clothes than ever before. It's not that I don't like dressing nicely but I got rid of most of the professional work clothes once I realized I hadn't felt like wearing any of them these past few years. I've remade a few things for summer wear but if I really do need new things I think I'll follow your example. Comfort always comes first with style and flair as close seconds. I think I envy you having a daughter with a lady's shop.

What? Sewing clothes on top of all the rest? You are a paragon of creativity and an inspiration.

susan said...

I can see that button sewing would be most difficult for you under the circumstances.

It's wonderful to know you and Crow have such fine wardrobe habits in common. I think that dressing well is a sign of respect both for oneself and for the world at large. You set a good example and people appreciate your effort.

Yes, I do phantsy that.

Lisa Golden said...

As if I needed another reason to want to move to Paris.

Sophie wants a sewing machine for Hanukkah. Moving to Paris sounds like a much more practical idea.

susan said...

I like to provide a little encouragement. Actually, I'd prefer to be there too - how about we pool our resources? I remember a nice spot under the Pont Neuf.

I hope Sophie gets one or the other. Learning in fine company is the best.