Be the change you want to see in the world - Gandhi

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Meaningful Consumption: H&M x Maison Martin Margiela

H&M x MMM launched over a week ago now and yes, I did brave the launch day shopping frenzy but in a more casual afternoon shop. I have a complete refusal to stand in line and fight over H&M [designer] garments as I am fearful of the assault capabilities of the overly studded accessories I see everywhere lately. Never mind the 'crazy' that happens when you have frenzied fashion shoppers fighting over limited stock. However, this time around I feel like the 'fashion hype' is starting to calm down as the only piece that was sold out by the time I got there were the oversized jeans. A few people I know had braved the line and the 10 minute shopping limit in the morning. They noted the crowd was unusually small for a designer launch.

This is perhaps due to the low key nature of MMM. I have never seen a brand so vehemently oppose any sort of publicity or advertising. Margiela is the faceless designer who has yet to be seen taking the obligatory designer bow at the end of a runway show. Interviews are conducted through fax and the Maison Margiela only speaks in 'we' terms. The brand carries itself in a very understated manner (until this H&M collection perhaps?). The clothes, however, are everything but understated.

I have to say, compared to previous collaborations, this collection is by far the best. The collection consisted of undiluted re-edition pieces from the archives and the quality beats out all other H&M collaborations. Sweaters and blazers were made from 100% wools and cashmere. The faux fishnets were a nice thick spandex that did not stretch out to a sheer unsightly distorted mess. Quite frankly, I have given up on H&M awhile ago as the quality is so low and the super synthetic nature of many of the garments (materials & finishes) fuels fears of spontaneous combustion.

In terms of promoting meaningful sustainable 'conscious' consumption this is H&M's best effort, which I feel was not their intention. While the collection was not made from environmentally-friendly materials, they were high quality, 100% fibres and not blends and I do not fear the typical unravelling of  H&M apparel within a few wears/washes. Not to mention the [un]wearable nature of MMM designs. A lil' bit awkward. a lil' bit odd. not just boundary pushing but out of bounds amazing. MMM is not for the faint-hearted. Which is what makes these pieces life-timers. You don't buy Margiela and throw it out. You keep it for a very long long time.

High quality, well made, well designed clothing is sustainable. There is so much more to sustainability than environmentally-friendly materials. There is more gray when it comes to sustainable/ethical clothing than black & white right now.

This collaboration was perhaps a true shot at fashion democratization. A chance [democratization] for anybody really to own a MMM piece and not some watered down knock-off version. So while some might question exactly what we've bought into, for once I actually felt okay buying into this.

Some of my favorites from the collection.

I couldn't resist and bought this extra large cashmere sweater in both the cream and navy. 

My friend Sarah convinced me to actually wear one of my new purchases and let her take my photo -  can you feel my awkwardness....
No more photos!! but look at those amazing sleeves.
If only Tyra could see me - smizing eyes best (worst)!!

My MMM blazer - keeping the tailor's stich in for the meantime

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

re [by] cyle your wool: Imogen Hedges

Meet the un-knitting machine. Imogen Hedges, a London based furniture-product designer, created this pedal-powered un-knitter to recycle unwanted knitwear. After a discovery that charity shops spend countless hours unraveling knitwear by hand, an idea was born. Imogen says "they can make more money out of selling the wool than they can from the sweater". 

This contraption is built around an old bicycle, has a seat and allows for wool and other continuous fibre yarns to be un-spun  along the circumference of a wheel. The yarn passes through the steam of an electric kettle to remove kinks and winds up on a hand-cranked spindle. Clever. Ugly sweaters no more, a quick stint on the un-knitter yields balls of yarn ready for re-knitting. 

This machine does so much more than just unravel yarn. It restores a sense of value and meaning to consumer products by reconnecting the mode of production with the individual. It promotes the type of behaviour change needed to develop more sustainable consumption practices.

Thank you Imogen Hedges. 

The un-knitter will be on display at the National Centre for Craft and Design in Lincolnshire on the roof gallery from November 10 to January 6.

"My grandmother spent a lot of time knitting sweaters but my mum threw them all away once we'd outgrown them because she did't think anyone would want them. With my machine you'd be able to take them apart and knit something new." Imogen Hedges.

Imogen Hedges from Rachel Mc Closkey on Vimeo.