Denim cuts

While we are waiting for the first guest posts on the issue of industrial craft, a few items of interest.

Tullia Jack, a Masters Design student, conducted an experiment/performance where she asked 30 participants to wear a pair of jeans for 30 days, five days a week, without washing them. Responses from participants are used to demonstrate that entrenched cultural habits cause us to wash clothes more than necessary. It’s notable that denim jeans were chosen as the crucible of cultural values.

A 2009 Levi’s campaign ‘We are all workers’ evokes a nostalgia for manual labour. The link between denim and US nationalism is further strengthened in the ‘Go America’ campaign. This begs the question again of whether the current post-industrial craft revival is mere costume-dressing. Victor Lytvinenko’s article about the revival of the denim factory in North Carolina suggests what an authentic revival of industrial craft might be like.

Meanwhile, the symposium Craft in the New Economy has just closed in Toronto. Its aim was ‘to address the relationship between craft and issues of sustainable business practice, technology, DIY and social responsibility.’ The notion of craft practice in the 21st century seems to be broadening beyond the studio to include industry. Is this a trend in the arts generally, or specific to craft’s mission of social transformation? It promises much interesting writing for future issues of JMC.

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