An international fashion research project exploring the 'craft of use'

Alternative Dress Codes

The choices we make about what we wear are influenced by life present, lives past and our ideas about our future selves. Expressions of values, aspirations, heritage, understanding and the physical shape of our bodies build a rationale for dress that transcend narrow commercial views about fashion. Instead they give us broader perspectives that honour our reality as well as our aspirations; and connect our psyche with our fibre and fashion choices.

Ready made identity

“I kind of think of my shirt as, like, dressing to fulfil as many roles in the society as possible with the least amount of energy and the least amount of capital expenditure and the most amount of up-cycling in a funny way. I don’t think of myself as fashion. I think of myself as dressing. I lost most of my clothing in a flood so and then I moved and had children, so I don’t spend much time shopping. If I could I s‘pose I’d go to thrift stores like I used to ‘cos that’s a pleasurable, kind of, prolonged experience of sorting through smells and textures and stuff and it’s usually better stuff than you can buy new.

So what do I do? I go to a place called Lands End Inlet. It’s not an outlet. It’s called an inlet and what they do there; it’s a place full of returns and this is the most convenient place in my remote part of New York State. I shop [there] because they have an unbelievably, seemingly endless, supply of shirts in my precise size but are monogrammed with different people’s names who didn’t like [them]. So I buy these monogrammed shirts and I either pull out the stitching if I have time or I wear them with the sleeves rolled up so no-one knows that I’m not JMC or ODM or whatever else it is.

It’s kind of funny, you know, my students they look at me like I’m a conservative guy or something or dressing for some bureaucratic function but and that’s the kind of funny thing, the kind of the image games that people play, anyway I guess in which we need to choose one of these identities - off the peg identities – right? Off the garment rack. Ready-made identities. They’re doing the same thing really but they think they’re expressing their individuality and I have no misconceptions that I’m neither looking too smart nor looking too creative.”

San Francisco - April 2011
Photograph by Paige Greene