It is no secret that the mass production of clothing operates through the continuing oppression of impoverished and marginalized garment workers. The clothing that we wear every day is a physical connection to these people, their hands touching each seam, adjusting each button. The complexity of global markets and the atomization of our connection to makers creates unfathomable distance between us and the value of our clothing. Through recontextualizing our textiles, it may be possible to create embodied connections to those far from us, and perhaps instill a sense of responsibility and obligation to the clothing we flippantly throw away in the name of fashion.
Clothing is tailored to fit the human form; it is intended to allow us to walk, wave, jump, turn, and kick freely and without physical interruption. Inspired by Madeline and Arakawa Gins concept of awareness through architectural disruptions, Disruptive Embodiment uses the construction of clothing to instead restrict our movements, holding our bodies in the position of a garment worker – sitting, head down, elbows up. Most garment workers work long hours in this position for meager pay. My intention with the rope suit is not as a performative piece, instead as a reflective and ritualistic functional object. In wearing the object, I lasted only one hour before the pain in my neck and back forced me to take it off.
The rope suit is made entirely from second-hand clothing that a large thrift store chain deemed unfit for sale and planned on throwing away. The mass disposal of functional clothing (many of the pieces only deemed unfit for sale due to a small stain or repairable tear) is another point for reflection on our relationship with clothing and garment workers.
To learn more about working conditions for garment workers, visit https://www.wiego.org/garment-workers