Clothing the next generation with independence

PHOTO: Clint Budd, Flickr CC

My latest column for the Minnesota Reformer is out today. The piece is entitled “A homespun stitch in time could save us.” 

I like to blend personal stories with my commentary and often write about my family. I’ve written quite a lot about my dad and grandfathers, but today I get to highlight some of the really cool things I learned from my mom. Her sewing ability inspired this piece, but what I actually learned from her was how to care about other people while remaining independent and resilient yourself.

“It occurred to me in the fabric store last month that the kinds of things my mom would sew for us would now be cheaper to buy at the store than they would be to make. A yard of almost any fabric costs as much as a sale-price shirt at Wal-Mart. That’s only possible because the shirt was made overseas by workers who earn less than $8,000 in today’s money.

“I’m certainly not the first to notice. Shahidha Bari recently reviewed “Worn: A People’s History of Clothing” by Sofi Thanhauser for the London-based Literary Review.

“Bari cites Thanhauser’s research to say that, “Today it is more expensive to make your own clothes than to buy them. This is a relatively recent and shocking development in the history of human dress. How did such a situation come to pass? The answer to that question is globalisation and the devaluation of labour that it has unleashed.”

Clothing, like food, is one of the most culturally significant necessities of life. We are what we wear, not just in terms of fashion, but in terms of class, climate and economic impact.”

I hope you’ll like this one. Read the whole thing.




  1. There is a terrific small business in Minneapolis called Rethink Tailoring that is teaching us how to repair, up cycle, and make our own clothing. They have Zoom as well as in person classes.

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