Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Clothing Is a Technology (whether it lights up or not)

Here is the gist of a speech i gave on the Cypress Stage at Maker Faire, at the conclusion of the Pandora's Trunk runway storytime show. It is a topic I feel very passionately about!

It occasionally seems a little funny, right, robots and steam engines and fire and machines all mixed together with knitting, and sewing, and clothes. Garments are a technology, though, turning flat sheets into close-fitting three-dimensional shapes with subtle engineering. This isn't just about design. Garments trap a small quantity of air near your body; their close fit allows this amount of air to be small enough that you can regulate it with your body heat. This innovation is what allowed mankind to leave Africa and settle the temperate zones - without clothing, even here in San Francisco, you would die from exposure. Energy expenditures necessary to heat buildings and public spaces enough for naked people would bankrupt us all. Sorry, nudists. When the wind blows, we need jackets.

This technology has become so ubiquitous that it's unremarkable, like some kind of black box magic that just always works.

This industry that is so basic to our survival, like all modern manufacturers,is now faced with problems of scale and accountability that need innovation to solve them.

We are the designers of Pandora's Trunk and we assert that all manufacturers should be accountable for their ecological footprint, and that communities function best by marshaling their resources locally whenever possible.

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