Upcycling. Is it a new form of bmx racing? Newly discovered process for nuclear fusion? Plastic surgery involving round laser beams? No. It’s taking a dodgy, hilariously dated, ugly garment that is made of quality material, and turning it into a new piece of clothing that is gorgeous, amazing and spectacular. Like this:
Upcycled evening gown by Laurel Schaffer for Georgi and Willow.
Photo By Courtesy of Institute for Global Labour and Human Rights
Editor’s Note: Think Tank is periodic column written by industry leaders and other critical thinkers. Today’s column is written by Charles Kernaghan, director of The Institute for Global Labour and Human Rights.
It wasn’t always like this.
The turning point in the United States was the Triangle Shirtwaist factory fire in New York City on March 25, 1911, when 146 garment workers — mostly women seamstresses — were burned to death when an exit gate was purposely locked. One hundred thousand New Yorkers marched in the funeral procession as 400,000 people lined the streets. Their call was “Who will protect the working girl?” For the first time, laws were enacted almost overnight to require sprinkler systems, fire exits that opened outward and could not be locked, and fire safety inspections became the norm — all of which was opposed by Wall Street.
With legislation to protect worker rights, the labor movement emerged, and by the Forties sweatshops were wiped out in the United States. The middle class was built and living standards rose.
San Francisco Ballet in Wayne McGregor’s “Borderlands”. Photo: Erik Tomasson.
At long last, San Francisco Ballet has their very own piece by choreographer extraordinaire Wayne McGregor. ”Borderlands” opened the Ballet’s 80th Season this week, and I wouldn’t have missed it for anything.
I geek out over textiles like nobody’s business. Wool, silk, cotton – knit, woven, pressed- rugs, drapes, bedding- clothes, shoes, hats- I love it all. Certainly I am one of those vaguely suspect people who wander through shops touching, feeling, sniffing and fondling everything I see. But what are textiles for after all- pure tactile enjoyment.
Thus you may understand the paroxysms of joy I went through when this showed up on my doorstep: