October 2

Tax The Rich Fashion Provocation That Changed History

Tax The Rich Fashion Provocation That Changed History

Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, a Democratic congresswoman, has cause controversy and celebration after she wore a fashion gown to the Met Gala that was emblazon with red graffiti text and the statement Tax The Rich.

The left-wing politician, Aurora James, was invite to the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s annual fund raising event. She wore a Brother Vellies custom dress and brought with her the label founder, the young Black designer, activist, Aurora James. Fashion has been use as a tool for social change since the beginning. This includes wearing these clothes in places of influence.

The 19th century Suffragettes, who marched the streets wearing heels, ultra-feminine dresses, and large picture hats to disprove claims they were unwomanly in their dress, to patriot textiles during the second world war to Indigenous Australian street clothes and accessories by Dizzy Couture today, have all worn dress to convey political messages and create looks for future generations of change agents. These are five provocations using clothing that have changed the course of history.

George Washington’s Suit Fashion

The founding fathers of the American Revolution wanted to end the codes of European aristocracy. Many parts of the world still had sumptuary law which regulate the types, quantities, and colours of cloth, jewellery, and accessories that were allow to different social groups.

North America was actively resisting the formal dress codes of the old regime. Men were not expect to wear expensive, colourful embroidered silks worn to European courts. Import fabrics thought to detrimental for local economies and their elite air was against the notion that all men might now (relatively speaking) equal.

Houdon sculpted President elect George Washington in the late 18th Century with a missing button from his waistcoat. It was an intentional gesture to demonstrate that his actions were more important then his appearance. For his inauguration, he wore plain, American woollen cloth made from American woollen cloth rather than the usual silk or velvet. This was a strong demonstration of North American independence, and possibly the first American business casual.

The Abolitionist Handbag Fashion

A variety of objects, from printed dishes to jewellery, have been produced since the late 18th-century to criticize the Slave Trade. British Quakers had argued for Abolition starting in 1783. The Female Society for Birmingham, formerly the Ladies Society for the Relief of Negro Slaves (originally the Ladies Society for the Relief of Slaves), mobilized their anti-slavery supporters with handbags printed in images and slogans to support the Abolitionist movement.

These silk drawstring bags were made by women from sewing circles and presented to George IV and Princess Victoria. These bags included newspaper articles and tracts supporting Abolition. Ten years later, the Slavery Abolition Act was passed, 1833. This Act provided for the immediate abolition or slavery in the majority of British Empire. Only in 1865 was a similar Act ratified by the USA.

No Feather Hats Fashion

In the 19th century, the ostrich and exotic bird industries were huge: women wore entire bodies of birds as accessories such as hummingbird earrings. South Africa was the centre of the double fluff ostrich plume industry. The feathers were more valuable than gold. These feathers were then exported to New York and London where they were dyed by exhausted young women.

The raw material was almost worthless after a huge feather fall in 1914. Young women became interested in conservation and the national parks. They stopped wearing the style and started an anti-plumage movement worldwide.

The Massachusetts Audubon Society’s women members were so successful in lobbying for federal conservation legislation, The Lacey Act (1900). The use of taxidermied birds, feather boas, and birds as earrings was largely outmoded and rarely found again in women’s fashion.

The ACT UP T-Shirt

In the 1980s and 1990s, the AIDS crisis saw the mobilization of a unique. Mix of activism from the 1970s gay, Hispanic, Black, and women’s movements. ACT UP New York concluded that anger and civil disobedience were the only. Ways for government and big pharma to focus their attention on the dire situation of gay men.

A series of unusual zaps, or site-specific protests that were often theatrically staged, were created. ACT UP’s members included designers and advertising professionals who created unified, stylish banners, posters, and T-shirts. They were professional looking and looked like advertising.

Sarah Schulman’s 20-year history of ACT UP shows that bold T-shirts have created maximum impact for ACT UP protests on TV news. They also gave birth to a new pro gay identity. ACT UP created the image of gay urban men by establishing the look for a generation. The public protests forced large drug companies and government agencies to adopt better health. Messaging and conduct more equitable and well-funded drug trials. They also sold cheaper retro virals.

Katharine And Maggie’s First Meeting

Katharine Hamnett, a designer, wore a T-shirt with the message 58% DONT WANTED PERSHING (a reference nuclear missiles) to an important fashion event attended by Margaret Thatcher, a conservative prime minister. Hamnett had made her T-shirt last night and concealed it under her coat when she entered the house. Its graphic design owes a debt both to 1970s Punk as well as ACT UP. Later, she recalled the well-photographed encounter with Thatcher.

She looked at her and said, You seem like you are wearing a rather powerful message on your T shirt. Then she bent down and read it, and let out a loud squawk, almost like a chicken. Visual forms are essential for social change. Fashion is one example. Fashion is an amazing communicator of innovative ideas. We are reading about AOC’s controversy with her clothing. This shows that she understands fashion’s power.

October 2

Life And Death Of An Indigo Cloth Undying

Life And Death Of An Indigo Cloth Undying

The Nantongese Granny was furious. She thought her grandson was coming to see her indigo dyed fabrics with a potential bride and not a group research team. Her daughters and sons laid out 100-year-old handloom-woven Calico fabric, two Nantong indigo dyed aprons and a pair traditional Chinese cloth shoes. I struck by the worn indigo colour and the shoe’s age and I ask her grandson for their history.

Slowly, the story emerged from translations back and forth between English and Mandarin Chinese. The Granny’s mother-in-law dye a piece of cloth that was use to make the shoes. The Granny made shoes from pieces of cloth that had worn out during daily use to preserve the memory of her mother-in-law, who taught her how to dye indigo cloth.

Granny’s indigo-colored cloth shoes were the theme of the Living Blue Project team. This was in keeping with our two-years of research in India and China on natural indigo dyeing, sponsored by the Wenner-Gren Foundation. Indigo dyed objects capture the life and death social values, relationships and structures in India, China.

The History and Theory of Design Anthropology class that I taught at Swinburne University explores the life history model for artefact analysis, which was create in 1976 by Michael Schiffer, a behavioural archaeologist. It argues that everything goes through the processes of production, use, cultural disposition (disposal), decay and reclamation. This model can help you understand the indigo dyeing process and Chinese society, as told by Nantongese Granny.

Procurement Indigo

In the Nantong area, the procurement process for herbal indigo-dye cloth has lost. The Granny’s grandson, her friends, and others unable to recover it because it lost in the 1930s when Guomingdang, the Chinese Nationalist Party (Guomingdang), confiscate land for rice and cotton production. This land was need for the army’s battle against the Japanese and Communists. As a reminder of China’s past, finish cloth, indigo vats and plants were destroy.

Because she is no longer able to remember the exact ingredients to make the indigo dark-blue colour, her granddaughter cannot help her grandson or his friends.

Indigo Manufacture

Although many of the old weaving machines are now in disrepair, the manufacturing process for indigo dyed cloth remains intact. The majority of indigo-dyed products in Nantong are manufacture in factories, not at home. Even though the cloth not made by hand, the industrial vats require that indigo cloth dye manually.

Indigo Use

Indigo-dyed cloth is becoming more popular. Indigo cloth was traditionally use in Nantong to make wedding blankets, other bedding, curtains, room dividers, and aprons. It also made clothes (pants and tops, jackets, and shoes). Because Nantong was once a place for fishing, agriculture and salt production, the apron had a special cultural significance.

Scarves are the main use of Nantong’s indigo-dyed cloth today. They can be use instead of wedding blankets for aprons, purses, bags, and even purses. Cloth shoes still have a market in China. I was able buy a pair of modern Chinese cloth shoes in Beijing with the Nantong cloth patterns.

Disposal Indigo

Indigo-dyed cloths can be dispose of at any time. This is a sign of the changing values of societies and cultures. Indigo, especially cotton cloth, is well-known for its ability increase the fabric’s durability. People have shared with us the beauty of indigo dyed cloth through interviews. They love how it changes colour over time and how it softens in texture.

A cloth is usually thrown away when it’s no longer usable, whether as a diaper or house rag. The cloth is discarded as it is, but may be composted to grow plants. Professor He Yang, Director of the Chinese National Folk Costume Museum and one of the project’s research partner, said that the difficulty in finding textiles older than 80-100 year old in China is due to the prolonged use of cloth.

Cloths with high artistic value but low sentimental value are sold to collectors. Collectors will pay a premium for cloths with high artistry. The family must be open to the possibility of the cloth being sold with low sentimental value.

Low sentimental value is often due to the younger generation not seeing the cloth as modern or fitting into their lives. They don’t feel attached to the cloth or the person who made it. Sometimes, people will have to sell high-strung cloth to support their daily needs.

At disposal is the point at which indigo cloth ceases to be useful. This is when people declare that it has lost its cultural or social value and are unable to find economic value for it.


A family’s disposal can be another person’s reclamation. We often see high-quality cloths with low sentimental value but high artistic merit being dispose of in museums. It is not clear if the indigo cloth dieth when it is display or stored in museums.

Indigo dyeing, for example, has many supernatural attributes. It is consider a living dye, whose essence changes over time in colour, sheen and smell. Museums often take the cloth out of circulation to stop its decaying process, which is the living changes it experiences.

In the Granny’s case, however, it is her grandson who undertakes reclamation. He attempts to replicate the indigo dyeing process, sometimes with or without her help.

Reuse And Recycling

Reuse and recycling differ in the extent to which elements of the indigos cloth have broken down and reconstitute. A cloth can be reuse if it has not been use for its original purpose. A faded wedding blanket could used as a dust cover to protect a storage container.

If the cloth has been remanufacture in a certain fashion (ex. It can be consider recycle if it has cut and re-sewn into another form. Recycling is evident in Granny’s transformation of an old indigos apron into a pair cloth shoes.

Feeling First

My passion lies in stories about the disposal and reclamation, and re-use of indigo-dyed herbal products and services. What social values make an object lose its sentimental worth for the next generation of people? It is possible to increase it, so that objects and practices don’t need to go extinct.

Next Un-Design post will discuss indigos dying in India and China. It will also examine some of the people’s efforts to increase the sentimental value of indigo dyeing and its objects.

October 1

Dust It All Come From Where

Dust It All Come From Where

Dust collects in every part of our homes. What exactly is this dust? It is not clear where it came from. And why does it keep returning? Is it coming from the outside? Are they fibres in our clothing and skin cells? It’s true, but it’s much more than that.

All over Australia, people have been sending their dust and dirt to Macquarie University’s Dust Safe Program. Instead of dumping the vacuum cleaner in a bin, they pack it up and send it to us for analysis. We are now able to discover the secrets behind your dust! This program is currently available in 35 countries. Here are some of the things we know so far.

Dusts Is Everywhere

Dust is everywhere. Settles on everything in the natural environment and inside our homes and buildings, where we spend approximately 90% of our time. This is even before COVID. Some dust comes from rocks, soils, and even space. The Dust Safe program reveals that dust from Australian houses can contain nasties like:

  • Trace metals
  • radioactive elements
  • Antibiotic resistant genes are bacteria that is resistant to antibiotics.
  • Microplastics

Perfluorinate chemicals (PFAS), found in fire-fighting foams and stain and/or water protection for fabrics and carpets

Dust Can Remove From Your Home

One third of the trace element contaminants found in household dust are believe to originate inside the home. The rest, however, may migrate from the outside via clothing, pets, and shoes. Your pets and you are continuously contributing skin cells and hairs to dust. Decomposing insects, soil, bits of plastic, food and soil make up the dust.

One might assume that pets bringing a range of organic contaminants into your home, including faeces, is gross. There is evidence to suggest that some filth may be beneficial for your immune system and decrease allergy risk. Smoking indoors, open fireplaces, and cooking can add very fine dust to your house.

There are many chemicals in dust, including those on the UN’s Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organ Pollutants. These chemicals can cause cancer, birth defects, dysfunctional immune systems and reproductive system damage, as well as increased susceptibility to diseases and nerve injury. Pesticides, as well as chemicals used in furniture and clothing, can also be found in dust in our homes. Many household products, including children’s pyjamas, contain toxic flame retardants that can get into dust.

Microplastics can also be found in dust from clothing, packaging, carpeting, and furniture. These microplastics can be inhaled or ingested easily, especially by children who frequently put their hands in their mouths. Pefluorinate chemicals, or PFAS, are used in many domestic products such as cosmetics and non-stick surfaces. These chemicals can also be found in house dust.

Dusts From Outside Your House

Two-thirds (or more) of household dust is found outdoors. You can get road and garden soil on your shoes, or blow in on windy days. Your pets’ hair can be contaminated by outdoor dusts particles. Exhaust dusts from vehicles also gets in. Recent dust storms have brought topsoil from desert areas and farming lands to our city homes.

Bushfires can produce fine particulate atmospheric dirt, which may contain toxic elements from past pollution. Children can be expose to dust from nearby industries and mines. Bad air quality and damp homes can lead to disease and death. As you can see, dusts could also cause adverse health outcomes. Some types of dusts can be particularly harmful; tradespeople are being expose to silicosis dusts, while home renovations expose homeowners to asbestos dusts.

The increased prevalence of antibiotic-resistant genes has been link to excessive use of disinfectants and antibacterial drugs, as we can see in our dusts. Nearly one fifth of Australians suffer from allergic rhinitis hay fever, which is cause by allergens like pollen, dusts mites and pet dander.

Get Involve In The Fight Against Dust!

House dusts is a part of everyday life. Even in closed-up houses, dusts can still settle from the indoor environment and leak from ceiling cornices or attic spaces. It can also seep into living areas through cracks around doors and windows. Dusts made up of any particles of dirt, smoke or fibres that inhale into the atmosphere. There are many things you can do.

You can stop dusts from getting in. You can use doormats to keep dusts out and your shoes indoors. Towel down mud-covered pets or children at the door, and you should take off any dusty work clothes upon entry. It is possible to make informed choices about the chemicals that we allow in our homes and how they will be use.

Reduced use of pesticides, plastics, and water proofers can help reduce chemical loads. Stop using antibacterial products. To clean a surface, a damp cloth with soap or detergent is equally effective. Regular vacuuming helps enormously. Vacuum cleaners with fine particle filters (such as HEPA filters) are better at eliminating allergen-causing dust.

You can dusts with a feather duster or dry cloth, but it is more likely to circulate the dusts into the air. Use a damp cloth instead. Wet mopping hard floor surfaces removes dusts that has left behind from vacuuming or sweeping. Send a dust sample to Dusts Safe to learn more about your dusts.