The modernity of essential dressing
An original link is the one between fashion and nature:firstly, because the need to cover and protect our body is one of man's fundamental needs; secondly because nature itself offers us raw materials and a brain to create a cloak or a dress by hand using leather and fabrics obtained by weaving the yarns according to increasingly elaborate schemes.
Nature still plays a leading role because its infinite imagination is the generator of new ideas, it can ignite the spark of creativity in those who admire it with curiosity.
Just a month ago there was the fashion revolution week. It is a movement founded by Carry Somers and Orsola de Castro. It promotes transparent and sustainable fashion that is compatible with nature in the broadest sense and that deals with issues such as: respect for the environment, a non-inexhaustible source of raw materials (but also of energy and inspiration), the dignity of the worker and the responsibility that anyone who buys a garment must have. By "responsibility" I mean taking as much interest as possible in the quality and durability of the garment you buy and the material that garment is made with, as well as the place of production and the working conditions of those who sewed it. The buyer should also maintain it well and repair it or renew it when necessary.
The fibres that nature gives us are animal and vegetable fibres.
The first animal fibre to be used by primitive man is wool, sheep is the oldest domestic animal, this species is in fact more than 10,000 years old.
Wool is an excellent thermal insulator, it is an elastic fibre, it retains humidity and it is biodegradable. It is commonly used for suits and knitwear but also for early 1900s sportswear. Even today it is experiencing a moment of strong revaluation in this scope.
There are superior quality wools such as: cashmere wool, it is similar in properties but finer, softer and lighter; mohair, from which a very long, shiny and warm fibre is obtained: Yak, it is an alternative to cashmere obtained from a buffalo native of Tibet.
We also recall: camel fibre, discovered by nomadic peoples of desert areas which used it to protect themselves from temperature swings; Alpaca, a natural fibre from South America, which is light, fine and very warm, one of its characteristics is that it is present in nature in a wide range of browns and it is often woven in combination with silk to obtain luxury fabrics.
A similar but coarser fibre is the one obtained from the lama, also native to South America.
Another animal from which an excellent fibre can be obtained is the Angora, a rabbit with very long hair, present in nature in a great variety of colours. Garments made from Angora can look like real fur.
We close this overview of animal fibres with the silk (Topic that I explored in a previous article).
Concerning vegetable textile fibres, first of all I would mention linen, its use to make fabrics dates back to 8500 years ago. Linen is a very strong and resistant fibre, with a natural sheen, its colour range moves from ivory to light grey.
But the fibre that enjoys the greatest notoriety and diffusion today is cotton, it is cool and naturally antibacterial. Jute and hemp follow it.
Bamboo is a fibre originally from China, it is obtained from the pulp of bamboo which is a plant that renews itself very quickly, for this reason it is highly appreciated.
Finally, there are lesser-known vegetable fibres such as Ramie, a very resistant one similar to flax; Sisal, often used to make ropes; Abaca, obtained from a plant similar to the banana tree, and many others.
Even leather can be 100% made with vegetable base, this is the case of Mylo tm, an artificial material obtained from the mycelium of mushrooms.
Stella McCarty launched her first vegan leather garments in 2021, and for the current season, she has also used this material to make her iconic bags.
Although in many cases the natural fibres and the weaving techniques are the same used by the ancient people for an exclusively artisanal fabric production, there has been a very strong development and improvement of the industrial processes of spinning, weaving and finishing. There are finishing processes that can make yarns or fabrics flame retardant, waterproof, antibacterial and so on…
Modern civilizations, that live mostly in heated and cooled houses, rarely need clothing to protect themselves as our ancestors did.
A sedentary life and the fact that the shelter function is performed by houses and no longer by clothing has meant that clothing fabrics and garments began to respond to an aesthetic need instead of a functional one.
Thus, overwhelmed by the abundance that contemporary fashion industry offer, which goes hand in hand with a quality that frequently borderline embarrassing, I find myself reflecting on the fact that to find a little peace in the chaos of trends and in the fictitious needs powered by the continued exposure to poor images, a return to essentiality becomes necessary.
Since it is no longer possible to deal with the typical essentiality of the primary needs linked to our survival, I wonder what kind of essentiality it could be.
It makes me think that the essentiality concerning dressing should be traced back to a question of style and awareness of a self that is both body and soul.
This flow opens up in front of me the fascinating world of uniform dressing, that is the possibility of identifying with intelligence and personality the garments that better represent us and in which we fully feel ourselves. It is complex research, but very rewarding because we can find how to enhance our characteristics rather than trying to shape them to resemble some abstract model of beauty.
Everyone can put himself into an original style of dressing with personal shapes and colours, that gives justice to the uniqueness of each one and that gives value to the garment that can finally be free from the nightmare of the "out of fashion".
I encourage everyone to begin the adventure of discovering their own personal style by finding in their wardrobe any items that could match with themselves. What features do they have? do they sculpt or caress the body? What fabric are they made of? Where do they come from?
In conclusion, I would like to underline that choosing how to dress is a problem that concerns everyone equally and it is not a question of fashion addicted or image obsessed. On the contrary! It concerns everyone, as we are all a physical presence in the world with unrepeatable characteristics.
For examples, let’s think about the outfits of a genius like Steve Jobs or of those of tennis player like Andre Agassi at the dawn of his sports career. He expresses the concept of uniform dressing very well in his autobiography:
Dressing like me in 1988 means wearing denim shorts. They are my signature. They are synonymous with myself, mentioned in every article and profile. Strangely, I never chose to wear them. They chose me.
De Castro Orsola, I VESTITI CHE AMI VIVONO A LUNGO, Garzanti, Milano, 2021
Fashionary, TEXTILEPEDIA, Fashionary international Ltd, Hong Kong, 2021
Albers Anni, SUL DESIGN, Johan & Levi editore, Varese, 2023
Ceriotti Migliarese Mariolina, LA COPPIA IMPERFETTA, edizioni Ares, Milano, 2019
Agassi Andre, OPEN. La mia storia, Einaudi, Torino, 2011
Migliaccio Rossella, FORME, Vallardi, Milano, 2020
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