Ethics of Use
Brands control upstream supply chains assiduously; but downstream, after a garment is sold, the user is in charge. A user’s actions can uphold a brand’s values, be incurious about them or subvert them in a range of direct or subtle ways. Defiance comes in many forms: the protestations of a blog, the cutting and reworking of scissors and thread, or the attitude with which a garment is worn, upending the worldview of the corporation that made it.
“This shirt says ‘Kansas Cattle Queen’ on it. Which I bought when I moved to America in a shop that I then knew nothing about called Urban Outfitters which later obviously discovered to be a massive chain. So I bought it in the first week when I moved there. I think it was five dollars. I just thought it was kind of a laugh. I think it’s a feminist shirt I suppose… making this obvious feminist point of women being treated like pieces of meat. I found that it had a very powerful effect on people when I was wearing it… particularly American women who took it very literally… one woman accused me on instructing people on how to saw up women! A professor in the gender studies department of the university where I was, spotted the shirt and launched a campaign against Urban Outfitters to withdraw the shirt - which they then did! …I find it kind of a useful item of clothing because it divides people before I speak to them into people that I’ll probably get on with and people that I won’t (laughter).”
Dublin - April 2012
Photograph by Des Moriarty
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