Saturday, August 12, 2006

A modest proposal: the archives of men's tailoring

I've recently wondered about the rather haphazard legacy of bespoke garments (suits, shoes and the like) and the unfortunate manner of their disposal, often in auctions to the highest bidder. The garments live on in the private collections of aficionados but their power to inspire and enlighten remain hidden to the public eye.

Then a curious idea of preservation settled into my head. Why not create a public archive and museum of men's tailoring? We learn in economics of the principle of supply and demand. How is supply and demand satisfied here? By definition, bespoke is fitted for the owner in question and may often be unsuitable for direct bequesting to family members. Hence, I would imagine that owners of bespoke garments could select and donate at least one ensemble, provide documentation of provenance and a personalized story (or stories) of commissioning and wearing said ensemble.

It would be a fascinating collection I think. This goes to the demand question. There is much to learn about men's clothing but very few places of sartorial learning. There are several thousand members of men's clothing discussion fora. They would be the target market, as well as students, trade professionals and researchers.

Our tailoring archive would be modeled after public libraries, which emphasize easy access, and research archives, which cater to serious researchers in the field. We would offer books and written materials on the technical field of tailoring, history of men's clothing and, of course, notable commentaries and creative works (film, documentaries) on the subject.

Perhaps most distinctively, in lieu of a reading room, we would offer a "fitting room" where selected garments would be available for close inspection.

No comments: