anna brones

writer + artist + producer

Posts Tagged ‘fashion

Amelia Bloomer

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“When you find a burden in belief or apparel, cast it off.”

Amelia Bloomer (1819-1894)

Born Amelia Jenks, Bloomer was a writer, editor, abolitionist, and active member of the women’s suffrage movement. Her progressive views helped to shift not only how American women viewed what they wore, but also themselves and their role in society.

After attending the Seneca Falls Women’s Rights Convention in 1848, Bloomer launched The Lily. The newspaper was entirely for women, and dedicated to covering the topics of the day. A publication by and for women was not only novel, but controversial. While it began as a temperance journal, it quickly evolved, and within its pages, Bloomer and her team not only advocated for women’s right to vote, but also to end slavery.

Bloomer later wrote, “The Lily was the first paper published devoted to the interests of woman and, so far as I know, the first one owned, edited and published by a woman. It was a novel thing for me to do in those days and I was little fitted for it, but the force of circumstances led me into it and strength was given me to carry it through. It was a needed instrumentality to spread abroad the truth of the new gospel to woman, and I could not withhold my hand to stay the work I had begun.”

But it was articles on fashion that would spike the interest in The Lily, as Bloomer advocated for dress reform. Long dresses of the day were heavy, impractical, and often, an impediment to health. As Lorraine Boissoneault writes for Smithsonian:

“… middle- and upper-class American women squeezed themselves into corsets and six to eight petticoats to fill out the shape of their skirts. The result weighed up to 15 pounds, placed enormous pressure on their hips, and made movement a struggle.

“Women complained of overheating and impaired breathing, sweeping along filthy streets and tripping over stairs, crushed organs from whalebone stays and laced corsets, and getting caught in factory machinery,” writes historian Annemarie Strassel.

Doctors worried the outfits might cause health problems for pregnant mothers, and the press regularly lampooned the style of the day, with cartoons showing assorted garbage getting caught in women’s sweeping skirts. But what could be done?”

Bloomer found an answer in a liberating new style of outfit: a short skirt with billowy pantaloons underneath. She published photos of herself wearing it, and advocated for the style change in the pages of The Lily.

This physical manifestation of women’s liberation of course caused an uproar, one that Bloomer hadn’t expected. “At the outset, I had no idea of fully adopting the style no thought of setting a fashion; no thought that my action would create an excitement throughout the civilized world, and give to the style my name and the credit due Mrs. [Elizabeth Smith] Miller. This was all the work of the press. I stood amazed at the furor I had unwittingly caused,” wrote Bloomer.

She hadn’t planned on starting a fashion revolution, but Bloomer became the outfit’s namesake, and in turn the face of the movement for dress reform. Women wrote to Bloomer asking about the dress, and if there were patterns available, and the interest was so great that The Lily‘s monthly circulation went from 500 to 4,000.

Imagine: a woman in pants! To the public of the day, the thought was not just unconventional, but unsightly. During the American Civil War, nurses were even banned from wearing them, but the freedom of movement that they allowed causes many nurses to ignore the ban and don them anyway.

Bloomer later went back to her full-length dress, and the suffragettes moved away from dress reform as one of their causes, but the connection between pants and women’s right’s remained—our wardrobes and our politics forever changed.

This papercut and profile are a part of the Women’s Wisdom Project, a project focused on showcasing the wisdom of inspiring, insightful women by making 100 papercut portraits.

Written by Anna Brones

October 17, 2019 at 10:57

Do You Think About Your Clothes Like You Think About Your Food?

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It has been five years since the Rana Plaza garment factory in Bangladesh collapsed. I made this papercut a couple of years ago, but the sentiment continues to hold true. Today is Fashion Revolution Day, the perfect time to challenge ourselves to ask brands #whomademyclothes.

It’s also a good time to reconsider our own fashion and consumption habits. Did you know that in the United States alone, we consume 4 times as much apparel as we did just two decades ago? Our habit of overconsumption is resulting in millions of tons of textile waste, inhumane working conditions for garment workers around the globe, and severe environmental consequences.

What can you do?

Start by checking out Fashion Revolution for more resources and join the movement calling for a fairer, safer, cleaner fashion industry.

Take time to consider your own fashion choices. Do you buy new clothes because you need them or because you want them? What’s in your closet: clothes you love or clothes you have bought on impulse? Is there something in your closet that could be mended and brought back to life? Can you reach out to brands and ask them where they are sourcing from? Can you buy secondhand to avoid buying something new? If you are shopping, are you looking for transparent brands with ethical sourcing and production?

Think about treating fashion the same way you treat your food. We all have a role to play in how we clothe and feed ourselves.

Interested in more topics related to food and fashion? Check out the Food and Fibers Project

 

Written by Anna Brones

April 24, 2018 at 12:03

Food, Fashion and Expiration Dates

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“Fashion is the deliberate inculcation of obsolescence.” -Paul Hawken

Some people might not think that food and fashion have much in common, but in our global consumer society that’s obsessed with cheaper and faster, they definitely do. I write about this topic over on the Brooklyn Fashion and Design Accelerator blog. My latest article is all about expiration dates.

Just like we used to put all of our food to use, and fix our appliances instead of buying a new one, if a go-to shirt got a hole in it, there was a time when we would sew it up. But the darning needles and sewing machines of our mother’s and grandmother’s generations have all but disappeared, because in the world of cheap fashion, you can just as easily buy something new.

Cheap fashion is just the same as cheap food; there’s no economic reason stopping us from tossing out the old stuff and buying something new, and that in turn, leads to waste of huge proportions. Consider in 2012, 35 million tons of food was thrown away in the U.S. In that same year, 14.3 million tons of textile waste was generated. But the difference with fashion is that it’s not just worn out clothing that gets us to bring a new item into our wardrobes. It’s a perceived expiration date.

Read the full article here.

Image: David Goehring

Written by Anna Brones

December 3, 2014 at 09:53

What Do Food and Fashion Have in Common?

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Fast Food and Fast Fashion

What do food and fashion have in common?

I have been thinking a lot about this question lately, and why we are becoming hyper aware about what we eat, and yet remain so unaware about what clothes we don.

How many times have you been asked “where do your [insert produce item here] come from?” with the expectation that you will have a response that involves a local farm or farmers market? More than a few I’m sure. But how many times has someone asked you “where is that pair of jeans from?” and implied that they want to know what country they were made in as opposed to what store you bought them in? Rarely, if ever.

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Written by Anna Brones

September 11, 2014 at 09:13

Are We Addicted to Fashion?

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Normally I write about food, bikes, or coffee. Or some combination of the three. But if there’s one thing that ties my writing together, it’s that I believe that we have to think differently about how we live. I want to get people to think about their daily behaviors, and hopefully, start challenging cultural norms and expectations.

One thing that clearly falls into that category is fashion, and while I am not a fashion writer, I am intrigued by the clear link between consumption and what we wear. There’s no denying that as a culture, we’re obsessed with shopping. But why? I got to explore that question in a piece titled “Breaking the Addictive Culture of Fashion Consumption” which was published this week.

Consider this: in 1930, the average American woman owned an average of nine outfits. That wasn’t a minimalist wardrobe; it was simply a wardrobe. Nowadays however, we’re far from that. The average American woman owns 19 pairs of shoes alone, and as Americans, we spend about $1,700 on apparel every year. We’re taking up space with things we never wear, and we’re paying to do it.

So why do we consume? That’s the ongoing question of psychologists and marketing professionals. It comes down to one thing: emotion.

“Necessities to sustain life and have basic comforts are physiologically driven. With very few exceptions, our society exists above this level. For most of us, it is the interaction of emotion with psychological motivation that is responsible for our behavior as consumers. These emotions range from simple pursuit of pleasure to more complex emotions like security, contentment, and (life) satisfaction,” says Peter Noel Murray, Ph.D, principal of a consumer psychology practice in New York City.

Are we addicted to fashion? I’d say yes. But there’s something we can do about it. Focus on experiences instead. Analyze why we’re consuming. Think about what really makes us happy. Because ultimately, the most valuable possessions that we have, aren’t possessions at all.

You can read the full article here.

Written by Anna Brones

July 11, 2014 at 13:31

You Can’t Buy Happiness… But You Can Buy a Bicycle

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Truth.

Now, I hope everyone gets out and rides a bike today.

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Written by Anna Brones

June 3, 2014 at 10:58

New Designs: Upcycled Bike Tube Earrings

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Excited about these new bike tube earring designs – you can snag a pair as one of the Culinary Cyclist Kickstarter rewards (my new book) before June 23, 2013!

Written by Anna Brones

June 20, 2013 at 07:07