Sep 102011
 

Welcome to Fashioning Circuits, a public Humanities project related to Fashion and Emerging Media.

Photo "electronic led light dress at the museum of science and industry in chicago" by Flickr user David Hilowitz

Photo “electronic led light dress at the museum of science and industry in chicago” by Flickr user David Hilowitz

Fashioning Circuits was launched in September 2011 as part of a series of independent studies in the graduate program in Emerging Media and Communication (EMAC) at the University of Texas, Dallas. The goal of the project is twofold: to explore the ways in which fashion and emerging media intersect and to work with community partners to introduce beginners to making and coding through wearable media. In Fashioning Circuits “fashion” functions not just as a noun to describe cultural trends, but also as a verb, “to fashion,” to indicate the experiential and problem based learning strategies of the project as well as the potential for a diverse range of students to fashion themselves as members of the publics and counterpublics of the future.

This blog is one of the ways in which the work of the project is articulated. The blog content includes

  • Coursework – resources from university courses, both independent study and formal classes.
  • Emerging Media – examples and analysis of blogs, social media, mobile applications, etc. as they pertain to fashion.
  • High Fashion – information and analysis of haute couture and runway iterations of wearable media.
  • History – historical impact of science, technology, and media on fashion.
  • Identity – analysis of the impact of fashion and emerging media on identity, including raced, classed, gendered, differently abled and sexualized bodies.
  • Project News – information about Fashioning Circuits activities and press coverage of the project
  • Representations – representations of fashion in media, including art, media, games, social avatars, etc.
  • Wearables – analysis of developments in wearable media, smart textiles, etc.
  • Workshop – descriptions of wearable media projects and detailed tutorials.

Aside from the blog archive, the editorial team is also active on Twitter. Search for the hashtag #fashioningcircuits to see all of the interesting resources we are finding and sharing.

If you would like to work with us on planning a community event, please contact kim.knight@utdallas.edu  If you would like to volunteer your time at one of our community events, please join our Facebook planning group at http://facebook.com/groups/fashioningcircuits

Share on FacebookShare on LinkedInPin on PinterestShare on RedditShare on StumbleUponEmail this to someoneShare on TumblrTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+
Dec 102014
 

by Christopher G. Lewis

The final results of creative projects often differ greatly from the original concepts. It’s certainly true for my EMAC 6372 final project, the “Carbon Monoxide Sensing Hat.”

noise hoodie

It only required forcing existing tech into a hoodie.

 

 

The first concept I tried to develop focused on noise pollution and frustrated me completely. It was a creative and technical non-starter with only one positive, NO ARDUINO CODING. I stubbornly persisted with it because my fearful dread of code outweighed the logistics of a proper concept I actually felt strongly about.

 

 

 

During the third week of November, still mentally bankrupt over my first idea, I realized the anniversary of the day I started smoking was Wednesday the 19th. Had it really been 20 years since Nov. 19, 1994? How many cigarettes is that? What do my lungs look like? How much money spent?

Let’s see… 1 – 2 packs per day at approximately $5 per pack ($1/pack in 1994, but as much as $10 in recent years) I’ll guess $7.50 per day spent for this calculation (about 1.5 packs/day).

$7.50 x 365 = $2,737.50, $2,737.50 x 20 years =

$54,750

I need to quit, but I’ve tried just about everything with limited to no success. I know cigarettes are bad. It says so right on the pack.

 

For health reasons, I typically only smoke the ones that complicate pregnancy

For health reasons, I typically only smoke the ones that complicate pregnancy

Then inspiration struck. I found my final project concept.

“The Black-Lung Canary CO Sensing Hat”

GasCap on a wire bust of myself I made years ago

GasCap on a wire bust of myself I made years ago

GasCap setting off CO alarm LEDs

GasCap setting off CO alarm LEDs

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The name “Black-Lung Canary” references the small birds miners once used to detect deadly gasses underground. The hat functions similarly to the bird, but hats don’t die. Among the thousands of other chemicals in cigarette smoke, carbon monoxide (CO) is a proven killer. It’s the same gas released from a car’s tailpipe.

Parallax, Inc. produces an Arduino compatible gas sensing kit. The board comes with two sensors, the MQ-7 (Carbon Monoxide) and the MQ-4 (Methane).

http://www.parallax.com/product/27983

http://www.parallax.com/product/27983

The gas sensor board functions by heating up the MQ-7 sensor to purge particulates and then runs a sensing cycle. It must be calibrated by adjusting the alarm trip level in conjunction with the sensitivity level. I set both to about .8V, sensitive enough for smoke, but not overly sensitive. That took quite a bit of time as I don’t smoke inside my house and cold temperatures will affect the reading.

gas-cap_13

Using a smartphone as a serial monitor

 

My source of CO for calibrating the sensor. cough.

My source of CO for calibrating the sensor. cough.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Once I figured out the residue left on my clothing from the cigarettes was tripping the sensor while indoors, I was able to better calibrate the board.

A multi-meter and a tiny screwdriver are needed for calbration

A multi-meter and a tiny screwdriver are needed for calibration.

Programming has been an Achilles’ Heel for me. I won’t say I mastered it, but I confronted it and won (mostly by making changes to existing code). The process still took days to complete.

the sketch code

the sketch code

The MQ-7 sensor requires a large power draw for purging, the steps down the current for sensing. At first, I connected the sensor board to an Arduino Leonardo with a separate power source for each.

Two 9V batteries, separate switches, powering the board and processor individually

Two 9V batteries, separate switches, powering the board and processor individually

This proved too much current for poor Leonardo, which ended its life with a smoky bang as opposed to a whimper. Of course, this happened on the Saturday before Monday’s due date.

rip leo

An emergency trip to Tanner Electronics produced an Arduino UNO. It handles current better than a Leonardo and is configured almost the same way. It required updating the drivers and coding software, but eventually it worked.

I couldn't get an LCD or buzzer to wrk with this configuration.

I couldn’t get an LCD or buzzer to wrk with this configuration.

This time powered by a single 9V, I added an additional LED for the alarm and to draw off a little more juice. With a micro to USB adaptor, this can be powered by a smartphone too.

Design Sketch 2

Design Sketch 2

Design sketch 1

Design sketch 1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

gas-cap_29

gas-cap_30

 

I normally wear either a “cadet” cap or “boonie” style hat. Unfortunately, neither of these could comfortably support the electronics.

 

 

This led me to selecting a faux leather “bucket” style hat:

bucket hat_large

Cheap and fake leather appearance, yet flexible and somewhat sturdy

I extended the wire for the 9V battery pack with the intention of it residing on a belt or in a pocket. I also dropped the idea for a LCD screen readout because of weight and complexity. A smartphone can power and read the hat’s serial output just as easily.

This is the app I installed on my Android phone.

This is the app I installed on my Android phone.

I made all electronic components removable so in order to wash the hat. After all, it’ll start stinking quickly from the cigarette smoke.

 

The wires all come with quick connect plugs.

The wires all come with quick connect plugs.

All wire connections are color coded for ease of use.

All wire connections are color coded for ease of use.

The sensor and LEDs in front connect to the controller in the back.

The sensor and LEDs in front connect to the controller in the back.

When the hat detects carbon monoxide, a red LED on the sensor board and a blue LED under the brim light up. The UNO board also prints the text:

 “Alarm. CO detected. CO kills. Stop smoking.”

This will be a constant reminder for smokers looking at their phone.

To watch the video, click here:

CO GasCap – Small

In the future, I would still like to incorporate a LCD for data readout so a smartphone isn’t needed. A smaller, better power supply than a 9V would be nice. Something like a rechargeable LiPo battery in phones would work.

I think more sensors should be integrated to detect other gasses in the smoke beside CO, and the data should be stored and charted. I could have made a wireless connection for the serial monitor, but Bluetooth is out of my price range currently. A buzzer or alarm tone should ring in addition to the LED light alarm as well.

Hopefully, a wearable tech garment like this could potential drop smoking rates even further. We all know it’s a bad habit, but sometimes in takes live-streaming “in-your-face” information to get the point across. If that doesn’t work, all the sudden activity the hat creates once smoke is detected just might. Currently, that activity is only lights and text, but imagine a hat that also beeped, vibrated, logged data for review and even tweeted (there are code sketches for auto Twitter postings). I think it would work better than gum.

Share on FacebookShare on LinkedInPin on PinterestShare on RedditShare on StumbleUponEmail this to someoneShare on TumblrTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+
Dec 082014
 

Guardians of the Galaxy: A thrilling tale of adventure, thievery, danger, romance, and incredible heroism in the face of great evil. The original Marvel comic book characters—dating as far back as 1969—have been changed several times over the years. New stories and new timelines have followed the first tales. But one thing has remained the same—except in short-lived alternate timelines, the leader of the Guardians has always been a man.

In today’s most recent iteration of the Guardians of the Galaxy—a fantastic film adaptation by Marvel Studios—Peter Quill of Earth, also known as Star Lord, steals a mysterious orb in the far reaches of outer space and thus becomes the main target of a manhunt led by the villain, Ronan the Accuser. To fight Ronan and his team and save the galaxy from his power, Quill bands together a team of misfit space anti-heroes who become known as the “Guardians of the Galaxy.”

Guardians of the Galaxy on IMDB

[image via IMDB.com]

Continue reading »

Share on FacebookShare on LinkedInPin on PinterestShare on RedditShare on StumbleUponEmail this to someoneShare on TumblrTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+
Dec 082014
 

By Amanda Sparling

A panic attack is a sudden surge of overwhelming anxiety and fear. Your heart pounds and you can’t breathe.

Relaxation techniques such as meditation, controlled breathing, and grounding can reduce anxiety and increase feelings of relaxation and emotional well-being. However, it is not always easy for a victim of a panic attack to be aware of what is physically happening to them at the onset of the attack and therefore they are unable to treat and calm themselves in the moment.

Additionally, panic attacks rarely happen in a controlled or private environment. Being exposed during a panic attack can heighten the overwhelming feelings of anxiety and fear and lead to complications if an attack occurs in an inopportune time such as during work or in a social setting.

Using sensors that measure specific physiological functions such as heart rate, biofeedback teaches an individual who suffers from Panic Attacks or Panic Disorder to recognize the body’s anxiety response and learn how to control them using relaxation and grounding techniques.

This project attempts to address the needs of a person who suffers from frequent panic attacks or panic disorder by allowing them to be aware of their physiological state in order to reduce the symptoms of a panic attack and aid in reducing the duration of a panic attack. Panic attacks are distinguished from other forms of anxiety by their intensity and their sudden, episodic nature. Through the Anxiety Cuff device a victim can take control of an attack and return to normal functionality as quickly as possible.

A person who is using the anxiety cuff will wear the Polar Heart Rate Transmitter which will measure their heart rate every second.

They will put the cuff on their arm, as pictured below, and go about their usual daily activities.

Screen Shot 2014-12-08 at 6.22.47 PM

While an individual’s heart rate remains constant, there will be no change in the device and some light to moderate movement and exercise will have no effect on the device as well. However, as the wearer begins to experience the symptoms of a panic attack their heart rate will begin to dramatically increase.

Once the Heart rate increases to an exceptionally high level, the Arduino triggers the vibe board to apply vibration to the pressure point at the underside of the wearer’s wrist.

This notifies the wearer that they are experiencing the physiological symptoms of a panic attack and allows them to begin integrating relaxation and grounding techniques to halt the attack at it’s onset.

Screen Shot 2014-12-08 at 6.22.26 PM

If the attack is acute, and continues to progress the vibrating motor will continue to apply pressure to the wearer’s wrist while the heart rate is elevated. What this continued pressure will do is to allow the wearer to focus on the vibration and the physical environment – grounding themselves and allowing them to begin the process of re-associating their internal and physical states to help the attack subside.

Once the heart rate had reduced the lilypad vibe board will turn off, and the wearer can resume their normal activites.

Screen Shot 2014-12-08 at 6.22.58 PM

There were some initial design challenges for the Anxiety Cuff. Most notably was the desire for this to be as minimally invasive and as socially acceptable as possible. The concern here was to make something that would be accepted as fashionable, without sacrificing the utility.

Screen Shot 2014-12-08 at 6.21.48 PM

The very problem we are attempting to solve is anxiety, and so I did not want to increase anxiety by building something that would be largely rejected as unfashionable. The project strived to embody many of the idea’s laid out by Luke Russel in TryHards, Fashion Victims and Effortless Cool. By allowing a victim of panic attacks to take control of the situation and self treat themselves as an attack is happening they are able to maintain the façade of being fashionable and effortlessly cool. This social acceptance is key to not increasing the symptoms and severity of anxiety the wearer is experiencing at the onset of a panic attack.

The final project is a bit larger than what I would have hoped for, however by integrating current fashion trends into the device the look and feel aids in it becoming socially acceptable.

Through the creation of this project, I was very aware of each individual component that this project leveraged and the help I received from the maker community to allow it to come to fruition. The HRMI, which was critical to the project was built and cooperatively designed by danjuliodesigns and SparkFun. Additionally, I tapped into a number of open source communities to understand how each component worked and the help and tutorials available from these communities were invaluable to the project.

The Concept Lab Theses on Making in the Digital Age by Michael Dieter and Geert Lovink, outlines this idea quite well. “The maker is always plural. We all know that we never make things alone, however, our experiences are not easily reconciled with current institutional models that rely so heavily on individual achievements.”

The maker community is alive and thriving, and I’m excited to continue to collaborate with others within this community.

Technical Details:

This project is comprised of 5 primary parts.

  • Polar Hear Rate Transmitter (T31 Coded)
  • Polart Heart Rate Monitor Interface (HRMI)
  • Arduino Uno
  • Arduino Lilypad Vibe Board
  • Power Supply (9Volt Battery Adapter built using Sparkfun’s tutorial here)

Screen Shot 2014-12-08 at 6.28.02 PM

The Code:

This code will take the info from the sensor band (average of 20 of the samples) and report that back in the Arduino’s serial terminal as BPM (beats per minute). If it doesn’t have a connection, or the band does not have a good connection to the skin, it will report a BPM of 0. The code continues to check the heart rate every second, and as the heart rate increases to above the identified threshold the vibe board is triggered and applies vibration to the pressure point at the underside of the wearers wrist.

You can review the full code used at this more detailed tutorial and project overview.

The code used for this project can be found in github.

Share on FacebookShare on LinkedInPin on PinterestShare on RedditShare on StumbleUponEmail this to someoneShare on TumblrTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+
Dec 082014
 

My project is a gamer shirt purchased in the boy’s section of a clothing store (since there were none in the girl’s section) in which I was to place an LED matrix that would display feminine images and print the word girl. That was the plan, at least. Then reality hit.I went through a process of researching, purchasing, assembling, and coding several LED matrixes, all with unsatisfactory results.  Finally, I switched to an LED cord on the outside of the shirt, rather than the inside, and I have had to use a 12-volt plug-in to make it work.

In her work, “Fashion and Sexual Identity”, Samantha Brennan states, “heterosexuality is a position that is so unremarkable among heterosexuals that it becomes invisible as a structure”. The same holds true in gamer fashion. Masculinity is the norm and femininity is the other, rendering the feminine invisible. Thus, bright flashing LED seems like a good way to become visible.

The amount of knowledge I have gained from the process is incredible. I began this semester with no experience in sewing, coding, or soldering. Now I feel like I have a beginner’s level skill in all three. I honestly enjoy making and maker culture. There is such a wide variety of ideas out there and so many things that can be done and created. I’m sure that I will continue to develop the skills that I have learned in this class and apply them to future endeavors.  It was the experience of making that taught me the most about maker culture and how to develop wearable technology. I was able to watch videos on soldering and apply those skills quickly. Ultimately, for my actual finished project, the sewing skills proved to be the most valuable, as hand stitching the LED wire into the shirt was required.

2014-12-08 17.26.48 2014-12-08 17.27.24

Share on FacebookShare on LinkedInPin on PinterestShare on RedditShare on StumbleUponEmail this to someoneShare on TumblrTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+
Dec 082014
 

In a world that is increasingly being made into capitalist societies operating on digital fronts, it is an increasing sense of anxiety towards the future of performing arts that has motivated me to attempt this project. By embedding technology onto an apparel that we, for the most part, only use when we go outdoors, I seek to redefine its purpose.

Continue reading »

Share on FacebookShare on LinkedInPin on PinterestShare on RedditShare on StumbleUponEmail this to someoneShare on TumblrTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+
Dec 082014
 
Ariana Berdy's circuits project. A felt strawberry cake

Photo by Ariana Berdy

As a busy college student I often forget or don’t have time to eat. Often times I have observed that society in general gets so wrapped up in the things that they are doing or need to get done that they place a minimal importance on eating. This food-comes-second lifestyle is unhealthy. Making a habit of skipping meals can lead to negative consequences such as physical fatigue; mental exhaustion; and , when you finally do eat, overeating and calorie loading (Skipping meals can have negative consequences).

In response to the “food comes second” way of life I have created a project that directly deals with a person’s relationship to their meals. My project idea is to create a “health bar” or “fuel indicator” for a person to wear. This indicator acts as a timer. The timer measures the time from their last meal or snack and counts down to when the wearer’s next meal should be. The health bar then visually represents the drain of energy as time passes between meals. Continue reading »

Share on FacebookShare on LinkedInPin on PinterestShare on RedditShare on StumbleUponEmail this to someoneShare on TumblrTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+
Dec 082014
 
Final hoodie image

Final hoodie image

By Amanda Swan

The Game Over Hoodie is based on the idea that people who play video often waste time playing when they could be doing other things. I’m personally guilty of this, and I know many of my friends who play games also fall prey to the distractions a good game presents, so I decided to make something that would us keep track of time easier than the disruptive use of checking the time on a cell phone or something similar. Games are, after all, usually meant to be immersive. Finding a way to communicate information without distracting
from gameplay was paramount, so I decided to use Adafruit’s Neopixel 12 LED ring and model it after a health bar. Usually, a health bar is an actual bar, like
Bioshock 2’s health bar, but they have also been round, like in Kingdom Hearts. Using a ring instead of a bar would make it easier to adjust the sleeves
to the length the wearer wants; it would be difficult to push up the sleeves away from your hands if there was a big bar in the way.

Health bar images

Kingdom Hearts health bar (top) and Bioshock 2 health bar.

Continue reading »

Share on FacebookShare on LinkedInPin on PinterestShare on RedditShare on StumbleUponEmail this to someoneShare on TumblrTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+
Dec 082014
 

By: Thomas Hall

The objective of my project, The Money Shirt, is to draw attention to the extreme disproportion of wealth across the world. Because of geographic and socioeconomic boundaries, it is difficult to conceptualize the vast disparity in spending power in other nations. The Money Shirt is designed to create a wearable, visual aid that does exactly that. Designed and ordered through Uberprints, the front text reads, “Today alone, I’ve spent more than the monthly minimum wage of:” and is followed by 6 countries in order of the average wage of unskilled laborers, bottommost being Uganda, and topmost being Mexico. Indonesia recently voted to raise its minimum wage to $206 dollars a month, besting Mexico’s $126, so the order will have to be viewed as more of a perception of the countries’ worth, instead of concrete order of incomes. Researching the minimum wages was a challenge in itself, as countries like Haiti fluctuate rapidly, and others like Uganda have such massive inflation rates that one US dollar is almost 3,000 Ugandan shillings. Beside each country is an LED connected to an Arduino Lilypad and a button. With each press of the button, the next LED lights up in order from bottom to top. While it would be impractical to manually activate the LEDs every time the wearer actually met the subsequent minimum wage, the existing design is effective at starting conversation about wealth inequality.

The finished Money Shirt, front.

The finished Money Shirt, front.

After receiving the shirt, I laid out the Arduino Lilypad, button, and LEDs, and drew prospective lines on the interfacing with pencil where the conductive thread would run. My first issue arose when I realized that the interfacing I had bought, which was labeled “non-fusible” was actually very fusible indeed. It was also far too thin not to tear. I bought some thicker material, and it has worked well. Next, I discovered that one of my LEDs was failing to light. I switched LEDs, and still had the same problem. After venting on Twitter and testing two separate “pedals” on the Arduino, I looked closer at my code and discovered that while doing preliminary testing, I had deleted the 6th LEDs “int” setup indicator. Replacing this line of code fixed the issue immediately, and I was able to light all LEDs using alligator clips.

The working circuit. Battery to the right, button at the top.

The working circuit. Battery to the right, button at the top.

The code functions to turn each LED on in sequence, using each numbered press up to 6, then turns them all off on the 7th press. I used the lithium-ion battery included in the Lilypad kit. It provides plenty of power for the 6 LEDs. After successfully testing the LEDs, I hand-sewed them through the interfacing using conductive thread. The Arduino and LEDs are sandwiched between the interfacing and the shirt, so that they do not come in contact with skin. Contact had the possibility of causing a short. When using a sewing machine to stitch the interfacing to the shirt, I made sure to leave a section of the interfacing free so that I may reach in and turn the Arduino on and off, as well as swap out the battery. Overall, the hand-stitching was time consuming, and the conductive thread was prone to tangles and breaks, but I found it effective when secured evenly and tightly to the nodes of the LEDs and Arduino. My previous project had the issue of crossed threads, due to the confined spaces, but my drawn paths ensured that each connection led away from any others.

Almost done

The interfacing about to be sewn into the shirt.

Of all the pieces that we studied this semester, Sindelokë’s blog post, “Of Dogs and Lizards: A Parable of Privilege,” was one of the most relevant to my project. The post states that “Having privilege isn’t something you can usually change, but that’s okay, because it’s not something you should be ashamed of, or feel bad about” (Sindelokë). The Money Shirt isn’t meant to shame the wearer or those around her or him, but instead to bring as much attention as possible to the hardships and differences of groups that we may not typically consider. There is already something ironic about having a shirt custom designed and printed, ordering electronics, and using sewing machinery and a laptop to make a product based on exposing monetary privilege. This irony was not lost on me, but in a way it serves to further accentuate the mission statement of the Money Shirt. The piece “Sweatshops and Cynicism” acknowledges that “clothes can express one’s position of social power, and that ability is one driver behind the desire for new trends” (Pierlott). This drive can be seen in the evolution of athletic wear from performance-based garments to everyday attire, often with predominant logos indicating high price tags. The Money Shirt can hopefully symbolize a similar drive centered around mindfulness of financial independence.

Another article that we reviewed in class, “SXSW Where High-Tech Meets High-Fashion,” asserts that for wearables to succeed, they have to be as much about fashion as about functionality. The driving quote that made me create an aesthetically pleasing shirt states, “if we are going to be making these wearable devices and gadgets and we’re asking people to wear them, they need to look good” (Silverman). While the project is about bringing monetary privilege to light, it is also an experiment in wearable technology, and therefore should, in my opinion, push the boundaries of subtlety while still incorporating technological aspects.

 

Below is monetary information, as well as sources:

Uganda

Less Than $1 (http://goo.gl/3RwRfj)

Cuba

$8.49 (http://goo.gl/dMneB9)

DR Congo

$65 (http://goo.gl/KBf4Om)

Indonesia

$206 (Last year saw minimum wage gains of 44 percent in Jakarta, leading employers to cut 200,000 jobs) (http://goo.gl/tezsv1)

Haiti

$90 (http://goo.gl/K0QrCP)

Mexico

$126 (After a 2015 increase of 23%) (http://goo.gl/tqc6BL)

 

 

Silverman, Lauren. “SXSW Where High-Tech Meets High-Fashion.” Art + Seek. March 13, 2013. http://goo.gl/q4qsPe

Sindelókë. “Of Dogs and Lizards: A Parable of Privilege.” January 13, 2010. http://goo.gl/uV7TMn

Pierlott, Matthew F. “Sweatshops and Cynicism.” Fashion – Philosophy for Everyone: Thinking with Style. Ch. 11. 1st ed. Blackwell Publishing Ltd. 2011. http://goo.gl/uvXwBr

Share on FacebookShare on LinkedInPin on PinterestShare on RedditShare on StumbleUponEmail this to someoneShare on TumblrTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+
Dec 082014
 

IMG_0406My project in essence was to make a wearable fashion technology that addressed the issue of gender identity by attempting to break gender roles. I believe the project was successful in doing this and raised a number of issues

Barnard says that fashion is not fashion until it can be placed within the context of a social structure [Barnard 19]. Ultimately, this allows people to attach value to what becomes fashion.

Barnard says that fashion is a means for a cultural group to shape its identity. Furthermore, fashion can function at the level of the individual or the level of society [Barnard 21]. Throughout some of the readings there arises the white male identity. There comes the question of if I am one of these that suffer from the tunnel vision associated with white male privilege. The most important issue this raises is that fashion results in assumptions or generalizations that are attributed to people.

Russell describes a social needIMG_0411 to conform to a group mentality where society is broken down based on social status. It goes on to describe fashion as a means of fulfilling this need. It follows then that fashion must be understood as cultural artifacts [Russell 38]. I think it would not be possible to approach the topic of gender isolated from other issues such as social status. However, the idea of a group mentality or collective is interesting to my wearable. I think it is important to think of ourselves in terms of group psychology. My project addresses this issue as well as the idea of being othered, the antithesis of conforming to a prescribed gender role. Carrying on with this idea, I think it also has the effect of thinking about rejecting gender binarism. It questions the standard of being heterosexual and masculine.

Barnard describes a social need present in people to individualize themselves and set themselves apart from society. Thus, fashion is dependent on the conditions set by society [Barnard 12]. I think that there is no singular logic then that defines cultures and therefore this wearable project could be repeated in the context of a different culture.

This implies that fashion is therefore an inescapable part of any given culture. Fashion is therefore relativized by a given culture so that fashion cannot be understood without this social context [Russell 38]. This was the single most significant factor during the experience of my project. If we take the assumption that I am privileged in the sense of being a white male, this would help describe any anxiety that came about during the project. This is because I perceive that I am committing a taboo and there is a response.

Barnard describes how society seeks to de-individualize people and in response to this people promote the expression of the individual [Barnard 13]. I think that this somehow plays into the group mentality phenomenon that I have described. In this way the anxiety that I have described about the process can be borne out of a fear to individualize myself to an excessive degree.

Barnard would describe it as being tied to the inclusion of an individual into specific societal subgroups and at the same time being individualized [Barnard 12]. This might have something to do with the term ‘cool’ that is used by Russell that relates to a person being easy in both dimensions of people identifying with groups and the individual.

Barnard describes clothing and fashion as the means to which social relations between peoples occur [Barnard 9]. As a consequence of this I think that the social relations that might exist between different peoples or cultures can be applied here. The anxiety I felt towards the project could be borne out of a fear for consequences stemming from breaking gender roles. This reveals something about the social structure to which I am a part of. It begs the question of what the consequences are in the case of this wearable.

Another question that is raised by Barnard is why would there be reluctance by a male in Western societies to wear an item of clothing that is labeled feminine. Barnard adequately describes a fear of being branded as being effeminate or a homosexual [Barnard 25]. I think there is the idea of taboo that might be used to describe this phenomenon. This is of course the essential issue of my wearable project involving the idea of breaking gender roles.

When Entwistle describes the way in which people identify gender as being arbitrary this again goes back to the idea that fashion is a relative term and there is no objective standard on the term [Entwistle 141]. When an individual challenges these gender associations, they are then challenging the culture to which the gender associations are attributed to.

Entwistle describes how self-consciousness in appearance can be caused by not fitting in with prescribed cultural forms which are the cause for preconceptions and limitations in society [Entwistle 150]. A question arises of how my wearable relates to existing preconceptions and if it lies outside of these. I mentioned before the anxiety I felt which I attribute to fear of committing social taboo.

In my project, I seemed to have the self-consciousness about labels, and I think in the process was able to confront my privilege as a white male. I confronted the reality of the actual world and the preconceptions. Identity in the actual world is heavily scrutinized by society. This is to be expected and it can be related to the topic in class of online environments and the absence of these limitations that society has built for itself.

Entwistle says that androgyny in fashion is not to be confused with an absence of gender differentiation but merely tests the boundaries [Entwistle 171]. I would agree with the position that androgyny is in short supply, at least in the culture I live in. I suspect that in this culture there is a significant polarizing effect that in general seeks to clearly define gender. This can be a difficult endeavor as the relativistic nature of gender would imply.

One of my concerns in my project was that it would be considered androgynous. I think ultimately that there is a very fine line that encompasses androgyny. Merely labeling something as a women’s clothing has the potential to push it over that line.

Ultimately, I think fashion is dependent on existing social conditions and these existing conditions are necessary when considering gender in relation to fashion.

 

References:

Barnard, Malcolm. “Etymologies and Definitions of Fashion and Clothing” in Fashion as Communication 8 – 26 (17 pps)

Entwistle, Joanne. “Fashion and Gender” in The Fashioned Body 140 – 180 (41 pps)

Russell, Luke. “Tryhards, Fashion Victims, and Effortless Cool” in Fashion: Philosophy for Everyone 37 – 50 (14 pps)

 

 

Share on FacebookShare on LinkedInPin on PinterestShare on RedditShare on StumbleUponEmail this to someoneShare on TumblrTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+