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Fashion, textiles, and gender in Asia in the long twentieth century

Threads of globalization: fashion, textiles, and gender in Asia in the long twentieth century represents the first collection of its kind devoted to imbrications of gender, textiles/fashion, labor, and heritage across Asia (India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, the Philippines, China, Taiwan, Japan, the diaspora) during the long twentieth century. This richly illustrated interdisciplinary volume situates the production of fashion (specific garments, motifs, materials, and methods of production) at the nexus between modernity, tradition, and identity, bringing these factors into Pan-Asian dialogue. Exploring the impact of textiles and garments on both national and local cultural identity, as well as gender identity and personal expression, Threads of globalization also investigates how garment and textile production has influenced the creative agency of women. The final section examines examples of ‘artivism’ (art + activism) that critique the often-gendered structural violence and environmental impacts of the global fashion industry. Threads of Globalization’s uniquely interdisciplinary contributors – scholars of art history, history, fashion, anthropology, and curators working across Asia – provide a fresh and timely inquiry into these intersectional topics from the late nineteenth century to today.

Ruby Chishti’s sartorial interventions
Saleema Waraich

Human choices are devastating the planet at every stage of production, distribution, consumption, and disposal. Of all the types of waste buried in the upper sedimentary layers of our landfills, especially confounding are the tons of cheap, disposable clothing worn less than a handful of times (if at all), purchased mainly by Western consumers but made by laborers in countries like China, Bangladesh, and Turkey in unsafe, toxic factories for unlivable wages. Our consumption of fast fashion – and its

in Threads of globalization
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How Swedish entrepreneurial culture and social values created fashion for everyone
Ingrid Giertz-Mårtenson

The evolution of international fashion has consisted of different phases. These have lasted for longer or shorter periods, but have also taken the form of different expressions and played out in different arenas. The rise of fast fashion, that is, rapidly changing, easily accessible fashion, has been an integral part of the international scene since the late twentieth century. Consumers have become accustomed to constant style shifts, but at the same time also to affordable pricing, all in line with the global trends that dominate at the moment. The Swedish

in European fashion
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Stitching together gender, textile and garment labor, and heritage in Asia
Melia Belli Bose

with unprecedented swift turnover. Fast fashion debuted in American high street retail clothing chains in the early 1990s. As the social activist Naomi Klein first brought to light through her path-breaking bestselling exposé, No Logo: Taking Aim at the Brand Bullies , first published in 1999, the key to the industry’s roaring success is simple: the abundance of cheap labor in the global south (particularly Asia) allows companies to sell their products at lower prices. 6 The profusion of unskilled workers, favorable

in Threads of globalization
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Activism and design in Italy

Precarious objects is a book about activism and design. The context is the changes in work and employment from permanent to precarious arrangements in the twenty-first century in Italy. The book presents design interventions that address precarity as a defuturing force affecting political, social and material conditions. Precarious objects shows how design objects, called here ‘orientation devices’, recode political communication and reorient how things are imagined, produced and circulated. It also shows how design as a practice can reconfigure material conditions and prefigure ways to repair some of the effects of precarity on everyday life. Three microhistories illustrate activist repertoires that bring into play design, and design practices that are grounded in activism. While the vitality, experimental nature and traffic between theory and praxis of social movements in Italy have consistently attracted the interest of activists, students and researchers in diverse fields, there exists little in the area of design research. This is a study of design activism at the intersection of design theory and cultural research for researchers and students interested in design studies, cultural studies, social movements and Italian studies.

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Infrastructure, financial extraction and the global South

No struggle for social justice that lacks a grounded understanding of how wealth is accumulated within society, and by whom, is ever likely to make more than a marginal dent in the status quo. Much work has been done over the years by academics and activists to illuminate the broad processes of wealth extraction. But a constantly watchful eye is essential if new forms of financial extraction are to be blocked, short-circuited, deflected or unsettled. So when the World Bank and other well-known enablers of wealth extraction start to organise to promote greater private-sector involvement in ‘infrastructure’, for example through Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs), alarm bells should start to ring. How are roads, bridges, hospitals, ports and railways being eyed up by finance? What bevels and polishes the lens through which they are viewed? How is infrastructure being transformed into an ‘asset class’ that will yield the returns now demanded by investors? Why now? What does the reconfiguration of infrastructure tell us about the vulnerabilities of capital? The challenge is not only to understand the mechanisms through which infrastructure is being reconfigured to extract wealth: equally important is to think through how activists might best respond. What oppositional strategies genuinely unsettle elite power instead of making it stronger?

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The way forward
Regina Lee Blaszczyk

‘Terribly Tasty Tweed.’ 11 A century of tradition translated into happy tweed fans. Provenance, sustainability and the future of wool Abraham Moon and Sons has combined design, technology, heritage and customer service into a successful strategy for the twenty-first century. The focus on provenance and design-led sales, along with the Walsh family’s commitment to the company, has enabled the mill to overcome some tough challenges: the avalanche of synthetics and knitwear, the backlash against classic styling and the rise of fast fashion, and the

in Fashionability
Regina Lee Blaszczyk
Véronique Pouillard

early version of ‘fast fashion’ to teenagers in Mod London, more and more consumers had access to clothing that was created to be worn for a season or two and then discarded. 10 One unintended consequence of the ramping up of the fashion cycle was the emergence of the used clothing trade and the recycling business, mainly but not exclusively in developing countries. Consumers in the city of Ndola on the Copperbelt of Zambia in Africa rummaged through second-hand clothing stores that stocked discarded Western clothing, while industrial workers in Italy shredded

in European fashion
Shiona Chillas
Melinda Grewar
, and
Barbara Townley

authenticity in product and production, including a romantic view of Scottish heritage that yields dividends in a market zeitgeist that values authenticity and provenance, thus challenging the notion of fast fashion. Tweed and tartan – indigenous textiles The word ‘tweed’ is used generally to describe many woven, woollen cloths, but specifically, to refer to a woollen textile known for its twilled, or diagonally ribbed, texture, and its variety of colour mixtures and patterns. Tweed’s name originated with its weave method: the word came from ‘tweel’ in Scots, or twill

in European fashion
Tereza Kuldova

, especially given that ethical fashion tends to be priced much higher than fast fashion and is thus far less affordable. Moreover, in India, even the knowledge about the existence of Fair Trade is limited to the upper segments of society; according to one analysis, only seven per cent of urban Indians are familiar with the concept. Fairtrade India, an advocacy organization that supports small-scale farmers and organic agricultural growers, itself first came into existence in 2013. 9 While ethical fashion remains an elitist pastime, we must also consider that business

in European fashion