A child’s sweatshirt lies on a dusty pile of fabrics in an antiques shop in Pushkar. Printed across the front is the worn logo ‘Domingo’; a tobacco brand from Poland. What makes the little jumper stand out is not the fact that tobacco merchandise has been created in such a small size, or how this jumper has travelled so far from its origin, but the colourful hand embroidery that embellishes the shoulders and areas of the sleeves.
Vibrant chain stitches decorated with fragments of mirrors show the unique embroidery of the Rabari, a community from Gujarat known for their bright clothing. Displaced from its original context, this tiny artefact suggests something of its journey; mass produced, aged by wear, discarded, found and then poetically embellished for its second life, its afterlife.
An item of clothing may have multiple lives before finally reaching the rag pile. From first purchase in the UK, a garment may undergo several cultural and geographical shifts before becoming landfill or rag to be shredded for insulation. Multi-layered currents of second-hand clothing circulate around the world, from evolving trends in collectable vintage to the mountains of unwanted clothing generated by an accelerating fashion industry...
You can read this article in full in the newest issue of Selvedge, issue 83: Cotton.