Tuesday, May 17, 2011

William Gibson trousers

Strange how much my life is influenced by literature. This time reading William Gibson's Zero History influenced my choice of trousers. Because my old jeans were falling apart I needed new ones. And William Gibson showed me the way with his prose. I had never noticed fashion before - it had always been invisible to me - but now I was alert and awake.

“We advertised. On fashion fora, mainly. Eventually we found a dealer, in Amsterdam, and met his price. He ordinarily deals in unworn examples of anonymously designed mid-twentieth-century workwear.”

“How it feels, to the touch. Someone had suggested I talk to this couple in Nagoya. They had an atelier there, above a little warehouse on the outskirts of a place called Ichinomiya. I can tell you that because they’re no longer there.

They were making jeans there, in deadstock fabric from a mill in Okayama. Depending on the length of the roll, they might get three pairs of jeans, they might get twenty, and once the roll was gone, it was gone. I’d heard they’d also been buying canvas from that same mill, Sixties stuff. I wanted to see it and, if it was good, talk them into selling me a few rolls. They’d tried it for jeans, but it was too heavy.

They were lovely people. There were stacks of samples of their jeans. Old photographs of American men in workwear. All of their machines were vintage, except the one they used for riveting. They had a German Union Special chain-stitching machine. A 1920s belt-loop machine.” She smiled. “Designers become machine nerds. Machines define what you can do. That and finding the right operators for them.” 

“I saw that an American cotton shirt that had cost twenty cents in 1935 will often be better made than almost anything you can buy today. But if you re-create that shirt, and you might have to go to Japan to do that, you wind up with something that needs to retail for around three hundred dollars. I started bumping into people who remembered how to make things. And I knew that how I dressed had always attracted some attention. There were people who wanted what I wore. What I curated.”

I am very happy with my new anonymous and functional  trousers from the workwear store. The cloth feels stiff and heavy. The color is dark and unbleached. And they have an extra pocket, meant for a hammer, but very suitable for an mp3 player.

My only critique is that they are not really anonymous. They belong to a design-line of workwear. And although they are called Brams Paris they are really a Dutch brand. But it's a funny coincidence that they have a model called Gibson. Did they read the novel?


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