Archival Clothing - Made in USA

Archive for May, 2006

Buying Corduroy Abroad: John Ashfield

May 25th, 2006

Via internet I’ve been tracking on some international Filsonesque brands which look promising but probably measure up to be Euro equivalents of Abercrombie and Fitch or Forever 21. This type of garment stalking lends itself to austerity since mail order from Italy is pretty much out of the question (submit credit card info at your peril)(I should add that the “add to shopping cart” function on most of these sites never seems to operate).

I’m now mainly collecting stock footage from these sites for inclusion in my own forthcoming fictional mail order Archival Clothing catalogue. In the case of Ashfield, I’m intrigued by the vibrant corduroy and unique pocket configuration of the gentleman’s “Maremmana” game jacket.

"Settle for what you get": Tuffy Sponges

May 24th, 2006

Sing Fraulein Schneider’s lament from Kander and Ebb’s Cabaret the next time you’re walking down the grocery aisle:

For the sun will rise
And the moon will set
And you learn how to settle
For what you get.
It will all go on if we’re here or not
So who cares? So what?
So who cares? So what?

Since she brought home a replacement “Tuffy” sink sponge, Sara has been complaining about its low quality especially when compared to the one it replaced (now living under the sink in service as a floor scrubber). Sara has declared the Tuffy yet another consumer product whose quality has gone south (despite the amazing fact that it is still made in the U.S.A).

Of course, the Tuffy brings to mind a whole category of modern consumer goods which trigger an apocalyptic mindset of “so what…settle for what you get”. To the “so what” category, we add Rubbermaid dish drainers, Pyrex measuring cups, General Electric toasters, SUS teakettles, Levi 501s (they’re cutting back on rivets), Pendleton shirts, Bass Weejuns, Girl Scout cookies, Hamilton watches, Grandpa’s Pine Tar Soap, and on (add to the list as you like). Like the sponge, everything seems to be shoddier, smaller, flimsier, less vibrant, and housed in skimpier, less graphically arresting packaging (already ready for immediate disposal). Not sure how to resolve my woe here save for documenting the “who cares” and consoling myself with my own stockpile of durable wares.

Saudade: Spudnut Donuts

May 5th, 2006

In her show “Andrea sings Astaire,” cabaret diva Andrea Marcovicci first introduced me to the Portugese word “saudade” which, to quote web resource, is a “vague and constant desire for something that does not and probably cannot exist.” Marcovicci uses the term to characterize her encounters with the film story world of Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire–one which Marcovicci longs to inhabit, recreate, adorn, grasp and ultimately invoke through her own cabaret stylings.

Most of my own adult life is fevered by various strains of saudade–saudade for the gold rush outfits found in old Filson catalogues, saudade for Kurt Weill tunes sung by Lotte Lenya, saudade for my past life as a character in a John Ford cavalry film, saudade for French and Italian lugged steel bicycles which I vaguely remember seeing for sale in a local Schwinn shop thirty years ago and saudade for restaurants which have gone out of business and/or foods which I consumed as a child (cheesey, bready, sugary items for which a nostalgia cookbook contract will never be extended).

I’m in my hometown again this weekend occupying a strange sliver of experience–eating a spudnut donut which both undermines my saudade while reinforcing the time sensitivity of nostalgia. Although the spudnut (potato flour) donut remains available, and has been available since the late forties, it really only can exist in the real, in the mouth, for an instant, as ephemeral pith, before it hits the memory bank and bloodstream (in that order). In short, spudnuts must be consumed within a very specific unspecified time after their creation or else they will seize up and harden–transforming themselves into something loaflike and unmemorable.

Each time I’m in Richland, Washington, I time my visit to the Spudnut shop (fortunate that it remains in business) so that I may possibly experience the spudnut donut in its most perfect state of resting decay: here, insert perfect donut description to which I add the following adjectives: airy, lofty, golden hued, lightly glazed.