Thursday, April 11, 2013

Flax, terroir, homogeneity and globalisation

Someone who visited the Urban Weaver one evening, described a locally sourced fibre and dye sweater as having 'terroir'.

'Terroir', roughly translated and taken away from its use in describing wine, means 'of the place' or 'of the land'. She explained that she meant the mixture of localy sourced fibres, dyed using plants from Stanley Park made the garment uniquely 'of the land' where it came from and was being worn.

The availability of cheap oil and its evil spawn, globalisation, has meant the regionality that used to define our communities and places, no longer exists. It has made available to us the riches and rarities of the world's far flung places that were once only the priviledge of the wealthiest. How many suits did your great grandfather own? Unless he was rich, probably only one or two, because sourcing the fibre/fabric/labour to make them was expensive. Now we buy and throw away cheap cashmere sweaters with abandon, in willful ignorance of hard work and raw conditions it takes to raise, process and make that luxury fibre.

Now that we can have the things that were once only for the rich (*alert: We are the rich. According to the UN we are the 12th richest country out of 193 of the world. The country producing cashmere is 163rd, and the one processing it is 93rd) nothing is special anymore. We rich countries can source anything we want. Result? We all dress in the same stuff, and find ourselves very boring to look at.

We must find ourselves boring to look at because we waste even more oil travelling to poor countries to look at their regional dress. They take pride in wearing clothes that distinguish them from other countries, even from other villages. We on this continent just wear the same stuff that we all source from a handful of big box retailers. We  have no regional dress, no regional pride in our clothing. Our clothing has no terroir. We look uniformly boring.

You can reclaim that regionality and produce unique clothing by growing and processing local flax. The Urban Weaver has everything you need to do that for free. We have seed for you, will soon have the equipment for you to process it into flax, and will teach you to spin, weave and dye it. The oil use will be tiny, the carbon footprint (unless you drive to the field house) small, and no one will have been exploited in the production of your clothing.

There's still a few weeks to join in. Why not exert your uniqueness and regional pride - your terroir?


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