Outfit Deconstruction: Part 1
A categorical "real" or "fake" is an impossible distinction when it comes to clothing. Forget what the design council of whatever says about copyright and intellectual property and ownership and loss of profits. Set those well-worn point/counterpoint crossfire-style argumentation strategies aside.
Consider instead: The silk worm whose purpose from birth to death is to feed on mulberry leaves and emit the raw material for luxury garments, the technology of digital printing, the forever nameless and faceless garment worker covering tiny buttons in fabric, the physical space of a pattern archive and of endless reference libraries and visits to vintage showrooms for "inspiration." Consider the limitations: shirt, dress, pant, shoe, the body. But from these constraints the Great and Notable Designers of All Times provide infinite beauty through creation and creativity.
It's no secret that one designer I consider worthy of the title is Dries Van Noten. So you can imagine my excitement to stumble across a blouse "by" Mr. Van Noten on humble Etsy.com.
The label sewn into the neck is akin to a signature, a form of authorship. At a vintage store, a dress might be labeled "handmade by [insert your grandma's name here]." This seems special to many of us. Likewise, a "designer" garment. We feel connected the the cult of the designer, her or his brand, often closely linked to a persona. But what of the garment itself? What makes it real?
This is a question I asked myself about this blouse.
|photo via etsy listing|
Scenario: A box arrives, taped in hot pink and filled with more than enough tissue paper, a handwritten thank you note. She opens the box, promptly tries on blouse, feels excitement over the intricacies of a print, unlike anything she's theretofore possessed. Marveling at its feather-like weight, she is content.
She inspects the inside of the blouse, out of habit. All seams are covered and finished, the construction a wonder for a shirt made out of fabric like a summer scarf. She checks the care tag. And there it is, the inscription, "Made in China." Further, a minor misspelling in the detailed message about not wearing jewelry so as not to snag the delicate fabric. And then the contradictory instruction to wash, rather than dry clean, the delicate silk blouse. She feels a sinking feeling.
China, where silk was perfected. China, where cheap clothes come from. China, a complication. I thought this was a Belgian designer?
Scenario: She now spends hours searching for more information. She is perfectly aware of the small likelihood that anyone would go through the trouble of creating a knockoff of an obscure designer's blouse line. And yet. Google is there with image searches and shopping search results, and she scans for those words, "Made in..." Where does Dries Van Noten manufacture clothing? Seems like Eastern Europe, sometimes Belgium, sometimes not Belgium. She knows enough to know that all the designers have things made in China. Why would her beloved be any different? And why, she wonders to herself DOES IT EVEN MATTER?
Real or fake? Keep or sell? How did I feel before? Maybe the fit is not so good around my hips. Do I want things because of who they are made by? Maybe I need to further reevaluate residual issues with class, ascendency, and ownership.
I decide: I have minor issues with the fit. It gathers on my hips where i wish it draped loose. This can be altered easily by adding vertical slits. I put on an outfit. Yet another pair of new pants. These make me happy. They are vintage, no tags. Selected solely for cut, fit, fabric, style. Easy.
|Vintage pants from Reliquary boutique in Hayes Valley, San Francisco|
Final Scenario: Etsy email exchange. She kindly asks for more information, no intention to leave negative feedback, no intention to return, no complaining whatsoever. Just a request for more background, if possible. Response: The blouse is from an estate sale in Colorado. It's been worn and dry cleaned. Seller never went this level of nutso over the details of information that will never be available, simply wore it and enjoyed it.
Searching for information about a thing to determine its realness is futile. The blouse is as real as the photo of it that I posted to the internet to show you that I bought a Dries Van Noten blouse. Tags or no tags, it's as real as the silk thread that gives it shape. There is a blouse. I typed a 16 digit code plus some personal identification information, and days later a package arrived and in it, something resembling some digital images upon which I based my transfer of Magic Money from a place that may not exist to a place where it can again be used in much the same way.
Deep Soul Search Results
I think that I just wanted my first time* to be more special. But isn't that how it always goes.
*buying Dries Van Noten
Outfit Deconstruction: Part 2