Thursday, 17 March 2011
Stories have often been told through textiles as they carry so many personal memories, and such rich cultural heritage. As part of my research I am investigating the stories of migration from South Asian laborers to
Manchester through textiles and connecting these to stories from textile craft artists across . Manchester
Monday, 14 March 2011
After having reviewed the research undertaken on this blog so far, I have realised that the craft of clothes production is really what I am interested in and how this operates both with people who have migrate to Manchester from South Asia and inhabitants of Manchester. I came to this conclusion shortly after the workshop where we constructed pieces out of recycled sari fabrics.
The idea that a lot of the work produced by craft artists has been created out of recycled clothing an this whole revival of sewing your own garments and customising old clothes to give them a modern twist really made a lot of sense to me and the project. It was staring at me in the face all the time. My grandfather’s textile factory which produced items of clothing is where my research began and I suppose this was always an underlying theme of my inerest in textiles.
South Asian textiles are an intrinsic part of Mancunian cultural identity – just look at the changing landscape...
This is an exert from a piece of research I conducted about the roles clothing plays in South Asian communities in Manchester...
4 Clothing and Plurality of Personal Relationships
Clothing plays important roles in expressing custom and conflict. There is much literature on clothing, gender and ethnicity relationships with widespread assumptions that these are determined by measures of modernity. In a number of Islamic societies modest dress is used to enhance the reputation of a woman’s father, brothers or husband because it can be seen that she is under the control of the men folk of her household and as part of a male strategy for achieving upward social mobility, Chapkis (1988) suggests that women’s bodies are often repository for ‘tradition’, when women wear traditional dress; it can be seen as an attempt to preserve or re-create a real or imagined past. In both Rusholme and Longsight, British Pakistani women adopt different types of traditional dress in order to display their cultural affiliation and the level to which their family is considered as ‘modern.’ The more western the attire the more ‘modern’ a family is considered, and the level of modesty an outfit displays, the more ‘religious’ a family is considered. In both these areas, the clothing worn by British Pakistani Muslim women is a conscious process and viewed as a marker of her family values and ideologies.
Ballard and Ballard (1977) and Saifullah Khan (1976) wrote that Sikh and Pakistani men who migrated to
in the 1950’s usually adopted western dress, but women who travelled to join their husbands in the 1990’s wore the same costume as in their homeland, making only minor modifications to allow for differences in climate. Britain (1985) believes that women who adhere to re-adopt ‘traditional’ dress can symbolise authenticity in the face of imperialism, but at the price of being excluded from modernity which is negotiated by men. Crawford (1984) believes that women who adopt western styles are attempting to find a definition of themselves in terms of the modern western world. Wilson
When reading the literature on dress in context of British Pakistani Muslim women, one sometimes gets the impression that they cannot win. If they wear concealing outfits or are veiled they are seen as views of tradition, if on the other hand they adopt western dress, they are described as trapped in an image of powerlessness. It is important to look not only at dress, but also at the meanings surrounding it and the environment in which it is worn.
The Pakistani National dress worn by women is Shalwar Kameez. This consists of a long tunic (Kameez) teamed with a wide legged trouser (Shalwar) that skims in at the bottom accompanied by a duppata, which is a less stringent alternative to the burqa. Modern versions of this National dress have evolved into less modest versions. Shalwar have become more low cut so that the hips are visible and are worn with a shorter length of Kameez which has high splits and may have a low-cut neckline and backline as well as being sleeveless or having cropped sleeves. British Pakistani Muslim women have adopted a more modern version of the Shalwar Kameez, but some prefer the more modest traditional version.
British Pakistani Muslim young women have also adopted the traditional styles of the Indian sub-continent ranging from saris, lenghas and ghararas. They display their heritage as not only deriving from Pakistan, but also South Asia defining themselves not only as Pakistani but South Asian British Pakistani women use dress as a marker of movement from one cultural world into the other. Second and third generation British Pakistani Muslim women split between western and traditional cultural clothing depending on the occasion, if the occasion is British they will wear British clothing and if the occasion is Pakistani or Islamic they will adopt traditional cultural clothing. Longsight and Rusholme provide occasions for British Pakistan Muslim women to wear cultural attire.
Islamic, national and South Asian dress play important roles as identity markers for British Pakistani Muslim women. Young women are trying to find a distinct identity, some are moving toward a display of Islamic identity adopting the hijaab (headscarf) and even the niqaab (face cover.) This has sparked controversy within the wider British society where it has been claimed that the wearing of Islamic dress is a move away from cultural assimilation and integration into British society which has created conflict between and within communities.
However, with the emergence of a second and third generation British Pakistani Muslim woman, cultural and traditional South Asian and Pakistani clothing have become modified as a marker of multiple identities and a way to integrate into western society. Expecting women to restrict themselves to specific ethnic dress is not realistic. Wardrobes usually contain both ‘western’ and ‘ethnic’ dress, allowing them to adapt with ease to communicate effectively with others and establish their desired image as any given situation demands. A new form of hybrid dress has been created by young women called ‘jeans-kameez.’ This is where a pair of jeans is worn with a kameez, and a more modest version of the outfit is worn with a duppata. Here is an example of a world fashion item (jeans) teamed with a form of national and cultural dress (kameez), creating a new identity that is recognizable in both western and non-western atmospheres so is able to be worn on any occasion. This style of dress was adapted as a means of creating an identity that would define women as South Asian, Muslim and western, as well as being perceived as an integrative style of dress.
With fast paced fashion it is so easy to get caught up in this whole culture of taking away people’s access to a fair life by buying into cheap garments produced at the cost of exploitation. Their has been a movement of reacting against this and I have found through my research people are becoming a lot more conscious about how they choose to buy thier clothes. This has led to many people taking up sewing classes and striving to customise their existing wardrobe in order to keep up with trends and develop new styles which do not follow mainstream fashion. I want to conduct a bit of research on this further as I have recently realised that their are sewing classes in Manchester which suit and reflect different parts of Manchester’s communities through the styles of clothing they look to produce in the classes and learn how to sew.
Manchester Metropolitan University.
Textile Design For FashionRE:Knit:Able - How will you wear yours?...How will I wear mine?
Using the concept of ‘slow' fashion, the aim of Zoe's collection is to create a whole new clothing experience that would entice the customer into keeping their garment for a long time.
By knitting an 'adjustable' garment that can be unbuttoned at various joins to create many different variations on a cardigan/waistcoat/purse/whatever they choose it to be. She created a number of different sleeve combinations and trims that can be attached in different ways to create completely unique outfits. The customer can then add different pieces to it, instead of buying a whole new garment. Alternatively, the different pieces could be turned into a more appropriate item for the day such as a bag or purse.
As previously examined their has been a decline in the textile trade in Manchester due to the cheaper labour and manufacturing costs in South Asia. These competitive prices have increased practices in unjust and unethical practices being carried out within textile industries in Manchester. With big companies offering clothing and textiles at very low prices people working in textile factories are having to feel the repercussions of throwaway fashion and are being exploited for our fashion retail consumption.
Image above: Factory workers in India working in unsuitable conditions