Wild Dress

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This book was recommended reading recently online. As I’ve already got ‘Fashion & Sustainability’ by the same author I thought I’d take a risk and bought it as I was intrigued by what she might have to say about what we wear and where we wear it. I was delighted to see that it is beautifully published by Uniformbooks in next-door Axminster. It is made up of a series of short readable essays some of which have stayed with me during my daily dog walks.

Country vs Outdoor Wear

When I videoed ‘Winter Walk‘ with my Trapper Basket collecting bits of nature during a local walk last January I decided to dress the part and wore a hand-me-down woven wool tweed checked jacket which resembled the sort of coat ‘country’ people wore when they were out hunting or ‘trapping’. I was astonished at how warm it was compared to a modern polyester all-weather jacket which soon loses its waterproofness. Kate Fletcher writes about this in chapter 3; the differences in clothes the landed gentry and farm workers wear vs the ‘outdoors types’ with their shiny bright polyester fleeces and synthetic thermals.

Read it for yourself because I can’t do justice to her writing, but what made me think is that wool can be repaired, repels water, maintains heat, and is intrinsically a nicer, kinder fabric to wear than synthetics which will last for hundreds of years in the ground when we’ve got bored of cycling/hiking/mountain walking, plus the washing of fleeces releases microfibres into the water table which ends up ultimately in our own food chain, which cannot be a good thing.

Object and Context

The next takeaway I found in chapter 5 on Birds. She references J.A. Baker’s 1967 account of following peregrine falcons in Kent, and how the understanding of an object comes about when it is related to its context. This is why I’ve wanted to make videos of my work; to try and explain the thinking and making behind an object or piece of jewellery, to bring it to life in a virtual world, to share my passion and love of touchable adornment and sculpture with a world that just can’t touch anything at the moment for fear of contamination.

There is some tender nature writing here as well as observations on clothing, both of which I am fascinated with, so I’m sure this little book will be reread again and again.

Fletcher, K. (2019) Wild Dress, clothing & the natural world. Axminster: Uniformbooks.

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