Soaring heaps of clothes in our landfills and overcrowded sweatshops show unmistakably the economic, social and environmental unsustainability of the so-called Fast Fashion model. As fashion seasons shorten, we welcome increasingly poorer quality apparel, with lower resale value, in larger and larger quantities. We seem to be stuck in a vicious cycle.
Narrative Exoskeleton is a research project that aims to re-stage the relevance of emotional and narrative value of clothing.
Textile and clothes have a incredibly rich tradition as carriers of narratives:
In the Netherlands, for example, people would once produce an Herinneringslap: a piece of cloth onto which important events of a community or family would be embroidered and displayed in the house as celebratory item.
In a similar way, in small rural traditions in Sardinia, girls would spin and saw the one dress that they’ll wear for the rest of their lives and that they would modify to mark meaningful episodes like marriage or the loss of a child.
In such instances textile becomes autobiographical; it assumes meaning and gains narrative and emotional value with every passing year.
When looking at Fast Fashion, we see a model which thrives on the opposite concept: clothes have to be depleted of all values in the shortest time possible in order to keep desire and sales up. It’s a model that promotes detachment.
In his project, Baraldi asks the question “How can we invert this depreciation process and extend clothes’ lives? How could we re-insert emotional and narrative values in today’s clothes-making formula?”
Inspired by the folding of paper and tattoo traditions, Baraldi produced a small collection in which the clothes are presented as a multi-layered logbook.
Starting as a blank page, the garments slowly evolve with the owner, who can pin down meaningful events through embroideries and give a celebratory stage to accidents such as damage to the fabric.
By opening, folding, turning the garments’ fabric, informations can be revealed or hidden within various layers of privacy.
Baraldi developed a unique language able to capture memories in an atmospheric way through a system of symbols.
The owner essentially turns the garment into a map of life events: a narrative exoskeleton.
By inciting an active involvement of the wearer with the garment, Baraldi hopes to find an antidote to fast-fashion’s established system which brings about social, economic and environmental injustice.