Rare Weaves was a special design project conceived by Hartley Goldstein, vintage and antique textile collector who, through his archive, discovered that the details in how a garment begins to fall apart are what also reveals its beauty. And so, he looked to his collection to find these historical confessions within the fabric and thread, in hopes of incorporating them into small batch productions of shirts, jackets, and pants. These mini collections and one-off stylings have become so celebrated within the fashion community because of the truly artistic perspective that Goldstein takes to mend together these textile antiquities. Because essentially, these pieces not only look into the nature of combining texture and colour but also look for insight into how we truly personalize our garments through everyday wear. Just as the number of scratches that dance around your front doors’ keyhole might reveal either your poor eyesight or late night drinking habits, the places in which your clothing experiences high traffic expression say something about you as well. Certainly, anyone who appreciates the outcomes of raw denim has experienced the satisfaction of seeing where your wallet sits, slowly expose itself into the warp and weft, or the wear that occurs at a cyclist's knees. It’s all part of the romantic and albeit anthropomorphic procedure of recording who we are.
The work of Rare Weaves naturally pulls lines of reference from Japanese Boro and Sashiko. Boro incorporates using fabrics from the 18th and 19th centuries as a patching technique and in some cases, using the decorative and strengthening stitching method known as Sashiko. Both were incorporated into daily life simply as a measure of necessity but soon, spirit, as it does, questioned if this basic function could not also be a form of expression. And so the invitation to involve the use of texture from different fabrics and the elemental designs from stitching was a way of personalizing workwear.
Image Source: Domaine de Boisbuchet
(An example of Boro, image from the exhibition ‘Boro: The Fabric of Life’ held at the Domaine de Boisbuchet Gallery) Considering contemporary mending techniques offers so many options for materials. Using antique or modern materials as a patching process is a beautiful option and the strengthening stitching could be taken anywhere from repetitive patterning to even resembling embroidery. Even looking at the Indigo x Copper Twist Selvedge jeans Naked & Famous created for their S/S 2015 collection, it was such clever incorporation of material and using copper could be such an interesting and bold mending material. Consideration into the repair of our clothing can be thought of almost in the same way as tattooing, to create patterns that we stitch in at moments of impression. This layering of patching and stitching that occurs over time only makes the fabric stronger and more intrinsic to the time spent. Looking at the work of Rare Weaves and thinking of these traditional techniques makes me consider how we mend our clothing now, and especially our denim. If raw denim is a declaration to the relationship we have with our clothes and how we live in them, the act of repairing has such a rich history to apply to the next reconstruction in your future.
Words by Kirsten Geekie