Thursday, October 6, 2016

Worth Mending

High-end Japanese fashion design is a reliable source of inspiration for the many daily choices I make about life support. Miyake's "Making Think, Making Things and Making Reality." is as good a design shorthand as any I have encountered. 

Azby Brown's history of the Edo period, Just Enough, illuminates the drastic economies generated by the culture's response to a near-terminal environmental crash. Brown's chapter on the home economy of samurai families shows how similar the values are to the sensible practices of navy housekeepers in the US. I find it particularly significant that samurai matrons used the same fabric in all the family garments.

Miyake is showing a version of the flannel shirt that is a witty and gently exhilarating take on the plaid cotton staple of our soggy woods. Japan has a patchwork tradition that joins straightforward rectangles of worn cloth. Miyake's printed shirt is a delight to observe.

Miyake's thinking appears to influence northern European fashion designers. The First Avenue boutique near the Market carries a couple of lines that have proved to be excellent value calculated at cost per use. Over the ten years I have experimented with shopping there, I have yet actually to wear anything out. Line drying is the key. 

I won't hesitate to invest the time and attention it will take to mend and patch one of these garments when it has become a weary friend. The sewing machine is long gone, but a needle threader, pat of beeswax, spools of cream colored and navy thread, ancestral English needles, German scissors, and an heirloom thimble remain.

Japanese design trickles down to the Great Big Hiking Co-op over four or five years. In my world, it's better value to pay three times as much on the front end when something turns up in the Market boutique. The garments are cut from such good fabric in such clean lines that they can be used for any occasion. The Christmas Miracle Department Store chain has a house label that echoes such thinking now and then. Think silhouette. The State of Maine mail-order catalogue is another source of good deals on classics of this school of thought -30-


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