Tuesday 4 June 2019

new kimono pattern coming soon

Yesterday I read an interview published by PomPom magazine with Emily Ito. Last night I made a brief comment about it, here is the link again.

Now that a new day has started I have some more things to reflect on from that....

When I put my views out in the world, in a public forum like this blog I believe I have an obligation to explain why I think as I do. Above all, I try to keep an open mind and welcome debate. I welcome Ms Ito to publish anything she wants to on this blog as a counter argument to things I’ve said here (or any other person who wants to say something). There is no comments section for the PomPom article.

In an effort to keep myself educated with what she thinks I joined up to her Instagram but I wasn’t welcomed on it for more than 10 minutes. I read a number of things she said and saw the responses and then made a comment myself which was immediately deleted and then I was removed and blocked. See a blog post a few days ago to see what the offensive comment was that got that reaction.

Reading the PomPom item I was doing research again and following up on the various links given. So in this spirit of investigation and trying to understand what the supporters of using kimono is an unacceptable cultural appropriation are saying I joined the Instagram of Aja Barber. Ms Ito quotes her in the PomPom interview as a person with opinions she regards highly.  @ajabarber on Instagram. I think Ms Barber has a following of more than 20,000? So she is a prominent influencer in the world of social media. I can’t say here exactly how many followers she has because I’ve already been deleted and blocked. Can somebody let me know so I can keep my facts correct?

Joining Ms Barbers Instagram feed felt like walking into a pub brawl on Saturday night. For a person who worked hard to get to University (at age 35) and learn the challenging form of essay writing I felt visually assaulted by so many capital letters and explanation marks!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!. I spent at least an hour reading through various posts and following up on links. Ms Barbers Instagram was way too shouty and aggressive for me (I am old and Aspergers. I'm very sensitive to noise which over stimulates me. Being in situations like that I usually start dancing around, banging my head and singing the ning tong, ning tong diddlee iy oh song) so I was relieved to find she has published a lot of essays on Medium which give a good insight into what she stands for. These are well written and considered. I pretty substantially agree with all her positions on the exploitation of the fashion industry and the unsustainability of its business model.

However, in the manner I’m getting accustomed too, I was quickly declared a troll, deleted and blocked in a flurry of outraged shrieking. Apparently being open to diversity sounds a wondrously virtuous attitude to spout before your adoring audience…!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!....but god forbid some imperial white bitch pops up and says WTF!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Be prepared to be showered with cyber turd before they flush you down their toilet.

In the brief time since I stuck my head above the parapet to state my position on kimono I’ve come to learn that not listening is a significant strategy for so many of the people on these platforms. They are simply hypocrites because they do not practise inclusiveness and openness to diversity. They only feel safe and comfortable being in the echo chamber of their padded cell with the other inmates. They have shown no graciousness whatsoever towards me, in one of the brief comments I had time to make to Aja Barber I described trying to talk to her as being like approaching someone who is spitting mad and already set on beating you up. Actually it doesn't just "feel" like it, the reality is they are so locked into their identity politics that I only have to tick 2 boxes - white, educated - and they think that is everything they need to know about me. According to their jingoism it follows that I am privileged, an imperialist = a person of not deserving of any respect. The last thing Ms Barber said to me before banning me from her Instagram was a hissy spit "no one is listening to you"


A few weeks ago I decided to change the name of a new PDF pattern I’m working on from the Jorja Jacket to the Sencha Kimono. Then I decided against it. Well I have vacillated yet again and have decided the pattern will definitely be published as the Sencha Kimono. For a few days I thought I might even call it “Emily’s Kimono” in tribute to the fact that it would never have been called that if not for Emily Ito. However, I’m not really fond of that old English name Emily, it sounds so uptight and prissy to me. So Sencha Kimono it will be. I plan to write a page included in the pattern explaining why I’ve dedicated its naming to Emily along with links to the cultural appropriation issue.

I have no idea if I’ll get any feedback over this, let alone something as scary as a “backlash”. I have stood up to bullying in numerous workplaces in the past, more often than not to the detriment of both my mental health and continued employment. I’m not blasé to the possibility of serious attacks. By this political action I am putting my principles and income where my mouth is over this issue. I think my principles will remain undented but there is every possibility that my income might suffer. In the worst case scenario my whole pattern publishing enterprise might collapse.

So I’m not adopting the description kimono as a capitalistic strategy to make profit, as many of the activists assert  – in fact using it could result in losing sales and damaging my reputation.

3 independent designers changed the names of their patterns because they were attacked and publicly shamed over using the description kimono in a pattern name. Their reputations and income were being threatened and the easy way out of being controversial was to accede to the people who insisted they change.

My own pattern business is miniscule compared to the other designers who had significant assets they had built up. I don’t make anything close to a living income. After 5 years of near full time work publishing 22 PDF patterns I am comfortable disclosing my average income generated from that would be about $100 week. So it could be said I’m not putting much on the line to make a stand other than many years of my labour.

So, we’ll see how hardline these activists are if they come to attack me and dismantle my molehill corporation. I am virtually everything they spout believing in – a woman working entirely alone to support myself, there are no outworkers or outsourcing of production – about 80% of the textiles I use in my making are upcycled clothes and fabrics. I design the patterns, cut each individual garment by hand, I print, sew and make everything. So all those fad words they blather so virtuously – sustainable, ethical, slow made, hand made, yahhedy yah …yeah, that is me with bells on.

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