Tuesday, August 30, 2011
Monday, August 29, 2011
Published in 1916, The Men's Factory-Made Clothing Industry is a report on the cost of producing men's clothing produced by the U.S. Department of Commerce, and can be found on Google Books.
Buried within a lot of dry financial statistics is an interesting history of ready-to-wear clothing in the U.S., as well as some very interesting descriptions of the manufacturing process, some of the machines already in use at that time, and some startling passages such as the following:
"The imports of clothing into the United States are almost negligible and are generally English overcoats, novelty garments like the Balmacaan, and golfing and motoring clothes. No sack suits are imported.
English ready-made clothing is not comparable with the American. The English hand tailoring is poor, except in the finest custom work. Very conservative styles of men's clothing are worn in England; the models do not change from one season to another as they do in this country. High-salaried designers [ahem] are employed by the larger clothing factories in the United States, who are constantly introducing attractive styles.
American people believe not only that the styles of clothing for men that are originated in the United States are superior to those that come from other countries, but also that the workmanship of the domestic product is superior to the workmanship on ready-made clothing produced in foreign countries. This belief accounts, in a measure, for the tremendous increase in the production of factory-made clothing in the United States during the last 20 years.
While the manufacture of ready-made clothing is one of the large industries in the United States, this industry is of comparatively small importance in other countries. The completeness of the factory equipment, the thoroughness of the factory organization, and the efficiency of the working force, which are noticeable in many establishments for making men's clothing in this country, are not even approached in other countries. Nearly all the ready-made clothing manufactured in Europe is of low-grade, cheap varieties, and is almost invariably manufactured in small factories, in shops, or in the homes of the workers."
I knew that the method of manufacturing by breaking down the process into minute operations had originated in the U.S. and had been exported to Europe, but was a bit startled by the assertions about the level of quality, mainly because the reverse is often true today. In retrospect, however, it makes perfect sense. But taking it into a larger context, we can trace the progression of the source of quality goods from the U.S., then to Italy who has held the crown since Brioni started to push the "Made in Italy" brand back in the fifties, and now it's moving to China. Many people still associate Chinese-made product with inferior quality, just as Japanese electronics were once considered junk, but those of us who have actually visited facilities in China know that they are not far off from the potential of eclipsing Italy in terms of production of quality garments.
I hope I'm still around in 50 years so I can witness for myself how the manufacturing landscape will have evolved.
Can't make the underlined thing go away & don't have time to figure it out...annoying.
Monday, August 22, 2011
The venerable House of Hardy Amies has a new designer, Claire Malcolm. We caught up with her to talk menswear, Mr Amies and, er, Kanye West.
“Kanye West one of the most inspiring people I have ever worked with,” says Hardy Amies’ new Creative Director, Claire Malcolm. “He’s a really hard worker, always up first in a morning saying; ‘Right, what are we going to do today?’” A job travelling the world with Kanye West is not perhaps the first thing you would expect on the CV of a designer at the helm of British label Hardy Amies – a label founded way back in 1946 that boasts the royal seal of approval – but Ms Malcolm is full of surprises.
“I was happy I didn’t know a lot about the brand before I started,” admits the cropped-haired 29 year old. “Having such a heritage to look back to is great, but what inspires me most about the brand is Hardy Amies the man. There is so much that people need to know about him. He was a bright young thing in the 1920s; a contemporary of Cecil Beaton. He was the social climber of the day, a professional snob but also a very clever guy. He spoke six languages and was in the secret service in the Second World War sorting out who was or wasn’t involved in espionage. He was the original James Bond. He even called all his missions fashion names like ‘Operation Corset,’” says Claire with a laugh. “In the late Sixties he designed the costumes for Stanley Kubrick’s, ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’. He did so many amazing things.”
For her first off-the-peg collection for Hardy Amies, Malcolm was inspired by the artfully posed photos of the young Hardy Amies himself. “Even in pictures of him as a child, he knew how to drape himself,” says Claire. “I didn’t want to reference a particular era, though I was drawn to the 1930′s and Art Deco, when people were travelling more and starting to discover things, so I looked to images of Hardy around that time,” she says. “Menswear was so much more glamorous back then and I wanted to capture some of that glamour in a way that was relevant to what men wear now. Of all the houses on Savile Row we’ve got the best excuse to do something more fashion, to nip in the shoulders, give men a more hourglass silhouette, add a lighter touch to the tailoring.”
The results have all the refinement you would expect from the Savile Row house – but with a certain elegant swagger and a raised eyebrow that Amies himself would have loved: navy and black, together on a tuxedo, a deep fur collar on a pea coat, flashy contrast collar shirts, classic ‘birdseye’ weave suits, electric bright knits and natty ‘Sausage dog’ print pocket squares and ties.
“Menswear has always been what I wanted to design,” says Malcolm who studied menswear at Middlesex University, graduating in 2005. After a spell in Osaka, Japan, she returned home to work with cool British menswear star Kim Jones on his own label – often collaborating with Savile Row tailors such as Norton & Sons for special pieces. She then joined Kanye West for a crazy year travelling the world when the fashion obsessed singer was planning to launch his own label, before landing a job as the designer at E Tauz, working with Creative Director Patrick Grant for almost two years. Just over a year ago she was poached to head up Hardy Amies.
Now with a critically acclaimed debut London runway show and a great selling first collection under her belt, Malcolm shows no signs of sitting back and taking it easy. A women’s line is in the offing, “When I feel the time is right,” says Malcolm. And Hardy Amies has been asked to headline the prestigious menswear show Pitti Immagine in Florence next year – no small achievement for a British brand, let alone one that has only just re-launched.
“Hardy Amies wrote a book of rules on menswear, but fashion is all about breaking rules,“ says Claire of Amies’ ‘ABC of Menswear,’ a tome which is still in print to this day. ”He says things like; ‘Men should never wear shorts,’ but we found a picture of him in shorts in the archives which we are using for the invite to the summer 2012 show in September. You see, Hardy broke his own rules all the time.”
Sunday, August 21, 2011
- In Deed. A study of artists deeds.
- Mathematical Objects. Just as with 3-d architectural models, there are 3-d mathematical ones. Some of them are amazing.
- Crowd Dynamics. A look at crowd management, causes of crowds, case studies include Mecca, Wars & a Freddy Mercury concert at Wembley.
- Inventory / A Pedantry of Nouns. A study of the weird hybrids of the English language throughout history, told with great humour.
- Raymond Bullard postcard. He's their mail man, they love him. (plus pull-out bookmark).
Saturday, August 20, 2011
James Hyman began his career at MTV in 1988 when Acid House was dominating the UK scene. From here he was involved in all aspects of the running and programming of MTV Europe, he also began collecting cultural magazines and by 2000 he had amassed over 1 million magazines.
James has decided its time for the world to see the biggest personal collection of cultural magazines on the planet.