Textile Society of America


Date of this Version



Published in The Social Fabric: Deep Local to Pan Global; Proceedings of the Textile Society of America 16th Biennial Symposium. Presented at Vancouver, BC, Canada; September 19 – 23, 2018. https://digitalcommons.unl.edu/tsaconf/

doi 10.32873/unl.dc.tsasp.0044


Copyright © 2018 by the author


In this presentation, I propose that worn-in garments are a shared aspect of the relationship between humans and textiles, while also being unique to the user. The relationship between natural, cultural, and material forms, resulting in wear on textiles, begins with the human body. The human body is the most universal local. It is the essential qualifier to be a part of the human species. Although it is a biological form, how the body behaves, and the shapes it is molded into, are influenced by culture. The textiles that enclose the body accrue signs of the interactions. Even if the wearer is not consciously making representational choices, clothing displays information about the wearer. It is a canvas for self-expression political preference, and sub-cultural affiliations, in addition to other alliances. The rips and tears in a garment suggest how a person acts in the social world. Even off the body, worm clothing is a peek into the life of the wearer, and reflects how they behave naturally and culturally. The increasing similarity in international fashion, resulting from globalization, means that these points of wear may be the only individual aspects of many garments across the world. The same standardization that allows wear to be perceived as something unique also results in garments that inherently clash with the human form. Patterns of wear are often isolated to the same areas of the body for individuals who share a similar biological structure, such as the wear on the inner thigh. Garments may wear out in the same areas-such as armholes and at neckline-regardless of body type or populations. It is these similarities and differences that reinforce that the body is a universal local, and point for which material objects, like clothing, are deeply personal and surprisingly global.