Sunday, May 10, 2009

Checkin Out Whole Earth

Greetings! Perhaps a little known fact, as it became apparent this past week, UC Davis acts host to the Annual Whole Earth Festival. Whole Earth Festival celebrated its 40th anniversary, advocating conservation and preservation of the Earth. The festival's goal is to produce little or NO waste. Many materials including napkin, straw wrappers, various papers, food, and juices are thrown in the trashcan and sent to land fills. However at this event, these organic materials were separated to be composed, used for soil or vegatation.
In addition to the overall vibe of conservation, the Whole Earth Festival welcomes a variety of vendors looking to sell their wares. Primarily these vendors sells goods such as clothing, jewelry, cards. crafts, pottery, and other various goods. These vendors, however, are unlike your everyday run off the mill mall store. Many are independent companies unaffiliated with larger corporations. Some of the jewelry is custom made to fit your ankle while some is make it yourself. The jewelry is not that of which you see in magizines, where superstar basketball players are purchasing million dollar rings. Though some are made of silver, or a similar metal, many pieces of jewelry were made of wood and stone. This certainly looks to avoid the mainstream consumption culture.
As far as clothing is concerned, the prevailent material advertised is hemp. While cotton is the predominant fabric used for textiles production, it requires large quantities of pesticides, irrigated water. Hemp is advocated as a substitute as it requres less inputs to grow and reproduces at a much higher rate. I spoke with one of the vendors selling such goods, he said hemp is a popular material amongst the green community. He said he feels that many members of the green community would rather abstain from supporting the larger corporations and give their business to companies looking to promote a healthier, more sustainable industry.
And in truth, the price in clothing is not much different. Pants ranging between 15 and 30 dollars and shirts between 10 and 20. Considering how hot it was, I was hoping it would be a little cheaper.
What truly struck me as particularly interesting was a vendor selling a suit made of this hemp. This suit consists of a jacket and pants, both resembling the western traditional but As I asked him about the suit and it struck me particularly familiar as it mirrored the article "Korean Alterations: Nationalism, Social Consciousness, and Traditional Clothing". The Hanbok, a woman's traditional outfit consisting of a chest high skirt(Ch'ima) and a short jacket(cheogori) was recently redesigned to fit the modern era, the Kaeryang Hanbok. Here is is made as a statement of poliical and national identity; one newspaper article claimed the new hanbok were mostly worn by students, artists and the socially conscious.
As far as the quality of the suit, it pales in comparison to an Italian made power suit. The hemp is tougher, heavier and stiffer, but still very comfortable. But in all seriousness, the suit looked like something a wealthy person would wear as they lounge outside on their beachouse on a summer retreat. This suit certainly maintains the formailty of the traditional western suit and pants but definately maintains the statement about the importance of preserving the environment and its natural resources. It is more than a suit; its a suit and a purpose.
To my great surprise, this hemp suit is not limited to individual producers. Plots of land in Italy now grow hemp for fashion designer Giorgio Armani. Armani has now designed several suits composed of the eco material. Unlike the suit I saw at Whole Earth Festival, Armani's suit was just as formal as any other making it a perfectly plausible purchase for the office.

Hemp in Essex. Hemp for Victory. August 5 2006.

Rebecca N. Ruhlen. “Korean Alterations: Nationalism, Social Consciousness, and “Traditional” Clothing.” In Re-Orienting Fashion.

Evan Wong
Blog 2

No comments: