unpicking a system

An even higher level of respect for garment makers as I take apart my corset. Most females around the world have one and may use it to materialise a point of view, an emotion or fantasy. It is almost hard to believe that these were once tools of subjugation and domination.

As an exercise in the fashions and embodiment studio at Goldsmiths, we were asked to bring  a personal piece of clothing with many seams to be taken apart and explored forensically. I chose a corset (I know what was I thinking, what a task!). Having had this item in my closet for over a decade, this moment seemed fitting for it and I to part ways.

The process was grueling and a lesson in itself of the value of clothing, buying things is one thing taking them apart piece by piece is another. With each stitch, a history unfolded to reveal its laborious journey to my closet. The subtle difference in thread thickness and texture. The distinctive parts that give this garment form, structure and shaping. All vital, all connoting to a bigger network. It wasn’t long before the dots were connected to the existence of complex micro and macro components that constitute the fashion system present in our everyday clothing.

The corset transformed from the item of clothing once worn to bring out a certain part of fashion culture; sexiness, femininity or rebellion etc, to network of stakeholders; makers, designers, media and corporations bringing together skills and technology through a bigger organ of manufacturing, trading, forecasting and moving.


Suddenly, this piece of clothing didn’t feel as light as before, it was a heaviness entwined in a system deeply entangled in globalisation and capitalism at the expense of the weak links in the chain to their detriment as well as the environment. A sort of paradoxical cycle that the same system with which the corset was created to fasten and bind bodies is in itself bound by the corset of it’s own creation; the mismanagement of power.

left me definitely questioning my role as a maker and designer.



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