Thursday, October 31, 2013

The Safety Pin

Photo courtesy Flickr

The design community sees the common safety pin as a great and innovative piece of work. When was the last time you had reason to use one? I carry one in my emergency kit, but usually see them only on people wearing red and black plaid.

A couple of years ago I read a history of punk fashion. The mists of time have obscured the title. The definitive profile for women, as I recall, was a knee length coat worn over trousers. A half-remembered chapter about Vivian Westwood yielded her surprise that the market picked up on wearing safety pins. She said the pin had been a joke. As I recall, one of the punk boutiques evolved from the Sixties’ “Granny Takes A Trip” after their inventory of Victorian vintage had been exhausted. The Beatle boot, by the way, was a line for line copy of the footgear of a Victorian dandy. The most appealing part of that history of punk fashion was the willingness of club-goers’ mums to whip out the sewing machine and produce a costume.

Sticky tape has replaced the pin’s basic sanitary functions, and it’s rare now for a garment to fail to the point of needing a pin to salvage one’s dignity. Clothing is so inexpensive it’s easier to find something for a few pennies than fiddle even with the minor repair using a pin requires.

Pin-wise, early straight pins were double-ended, like conifer needles.


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