An international fashion research project exploring the 'craft of use'

Portraits and stories from New York are now up!

  • Kate and Katelyn | February 22, 2013

+ Click on the images for full size

We are so pleased to share some of the portraits and stories of garment use that were gathered in New York this January. Local Wisdom was hosted in the sunny gallery space at Parsons The New School for Design, just off of 5th Avenue in Manhattan.

Over the course of thirty plus interviews, we heard unique examples of how garments can be lived as a rich and resourceful process, 
ranging from a coat made out of quilts to outfits made in back allies to stories of individuals who seemingly will find inventive uses for absolutely everything in their life.

Thank you to everyone who helped  and participated in the project. You've helped us to trace the patterns of how 
visions, ideas, habits, skills and stories are being employed. And in doing so, helped in our aim to unearth ways in which we can design and produce clothing that encourages these processes, these actions that make up the ‘craft of use’. Your portraits and stories are now on online!

A few excerpts from the day:

"Then he took off his shirt and he gave it to me. And then I said, ‘can I give you money for it?’ but he said, ‘No, no, it’s fine’. And then I said ‘I want to give you some money for it’, because I could also see he was not a wealthy person."

"I go into prisons and teach basic computing skills. However I learned quickly that you have to create sort of a personality [through your dress] that’s authoritative… It was also important when I was putting different ensembles together, that I try to be as low metal as possible, or if the metal exists, pure metal, because it makes a lot less cumbersome when I am going through the metal detectors." 

"at one point I found just pointless to always to sort my socks. So what I decided was to ask my mother to give me for Christmas thirty pairs of the same socks. Then I threw away all of the others I had, and now I have thirty pairs of the same black boring socks. But no worry anymore to sort the socks and find the pairs in the morning or after washing or whatever. I really like that concept. Mimise effort…"

"One day when I first moved to New York and I was having a really hard day in New York, I put on the pink dress and I went to the Met and I took myself on a date to the Met wearing this pink dress and a pair of high heels and it made life a little bit better and the New York adjustment. They’ve been a special part of my life since…" 

"So, I have this amazing two-piece garment that I found at a thrift store. It was in dead-stock condition and it had no labels on it. So I had no idea what time period it came from or where it was from. But I really appreciated the construction of it… both pieces are worn like an apron so you can wear them over other pieces… together or separately… [one piece] has this big hood on it. They’re this heavy [fabric], a brushed cotton twill… it’s all about the… the durability of it and its versatility…" 

"I bought this leather bag when I finished my military service. So, as a South Korean, every man [has to] go to military service and we get paid a very small [salary], monthly. It is like, compared to normal job, it is basically nothing. For two years I kept all my money; normally people spend their money for, you know, buy some snacks, cigarettes and drinks; but I bought that bag. One bag. But that was kind of expensive, but, you know, a compensation."


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