In this weeks readings, Marie Leskowich discussed the national dress of Vietnam, the Ao Dai, as possessing a “hybrid character” which allowed it to become both a cultural marker and international symbol of beauty. Influences of this attire came from both international and domestic locals, through gatekeepers as well as commoners. I found the topic of hybrid character particularly interesting because in our rapidly changing society, and more particularly our economic downturn, I wonder if people would be more willing to wear multipurpose, hybrid clothing.
In my quest to be greener through the compact challenge, I thought of hybrid clothing as not only possessing beauty and hybrid character, but also as having functional uses, or what I would like to call “common sense clothing.” After surfing the web I came upon an article about clothing that not only served the purpose of looking fashionable, but also functioned dually as usable items. I think this is the ultimate way to live a compact life. By wearing clothing, such as a jacket that turns into a tent or a bra that becomes a bag, we as consumers can compact our consuming by getting more out of each article of clothing.
Although having a bra that can be transformed into a bag for grocery shopping or quick runs to the corner store seem fairly impractical in terms of day-to-day use, it does provide extended useful options, for example if for any reason someone got tired of the bra, they could simply use it as a bag and vice versa. In addition, these multi-use, highly functional garments bring to attention the existence of clothing that can be changed into other types of clothing. When I was about 11 years-old, my mother bought me a pair of pants that had hidden zippers midway down the pant leg allowing me to unzip them and wear them as shorts on a hot day. Simple design alterations such as knee-high zippers or removable sleeves allows a person to create a greater variety of outfits and lowers spending: instead of buying a pair of pants and a pair of shorts, you get both in a single purchase, ultimately lowering your impact on the environment and living more compactly through the use of less material. If this trend can be successfully converted into high-end fashion, that is, recognized by the upper echelon of gatekeepers and fashion moguls, I feel it would have an enormous positive impact on the environment,
Jesse Blog Post #2
Leskowich, Ann Marie. Re-Orienting Fashion: “The Ao Dai Goes Global: How International Influences and Female Entrepreneurs Have Shaped Vietnam’s ‘National Costume.’” New York: Berg Press, 2003.