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 jacket I got about four years ago from a destruction site that I used to manage and we used to destroy stock that clothes manufacturers made that they didn’t want to end up on the high street. I liked the look of this jacket. So instead of putting it through the shredder I decided to take it home. And now I wear it all the time. And [my wife] wears it as well because in the morning she goes out to let the dog out… and its big and obviously she hasn’t got dressed properly…
So some of the clothes that we destroyed, you could tell that they were seconds. They maybe had mismade parts or missing buttons or broken zips or something but this one was fine. It was brand new. Hadn’t been worn. No sign of any problems with the manufacture at all. I guess it was given the wrong label, sent at the wrong time, an earlier model that wasn’t followed up on, I really don’t know. But it was a perfect item of clothing and we had boxes and boxes of them to destroy. So I thought, I’ll keep one for myself. I got used to destroying stuff… developed a thick skin about throwing stuff away… I consciously decided that I was going to disobey the contract that I’d signed.
London - December 2012
Photograph by Tim Mitchell