Guardarrr #30: Garments stuffed with memories

Esta es la versión inglesa de mi boletín, puedes encontrar el mismo texto en castellano aquí.


I have an old parka I’ve worn for a long time, now I’ve got a better replacement, so I should get rid of it. Straightforward, right?

I wish.

This is the basic info: I’ve had it since 2003, have worn it a lot, have patched it. It is not very beautiful or flattering, but it is very practical. It has served me well. Here is an additional post for the English readers I already wrote about the same piece of clothing four years ago: #100wears: Bik Bok parka.

I really need to let go of it. I don’t want to wear it. I now have a better garment that does exactly the same job and does it better. And yet.

This is a great opportunity to practice what I preach: conscience, mindfulness, minimal wardrobe and responsible discarding but that is not that easy with a garment that has been with me for 19 years now, serving as my primary winter garment for the first five of them. That’s a lot of wear.

And that much wear imbues the garment with ourselves, that is the simplest way I have to describe the feeling. By its mere presence, that parka forms a part in who I am, who I have become while it has been with me.

The old parka is full of meaning and memories, among others:

  • Of going to random hardcore concerts in the middle of nowhere where I had to get people off my cozy coat to go home, as they were using it for warmth.
  • Of my very rudimentary and few attempts at artsy street intervention. I know that a can of spray paint fits in this parka’s front pocket, and it has a bright red forever stain since then.
  • Of lots of long romantic winter walks and even longer freezing goodbyes with my first boyfriend.
  • Of being pointed out that this garment is not apt for snowboarding – as none of my clothes really were – that one winter when I made a couple of attempts at it.
  • Of the social mobility of my family since 2003 translated in coats: then it was a great deal that my mom could walk into a mall store and buy a 60 LVL coat (~85€, technically, though I’d estimate the value back then at around 100-120 current €).

But the lining is not that fluffy anymore, it has been fixed a couple of times, there is visible wear and tear, and it is stuffed with sentimental baggage.

The new one cost four times more than the old one, it is much lighter, waterproof, with better pockets, and has a more flattering shape. And yet.

There are no objective reasons to hold onto it. It is not something that next generations could want as an heirloom. Its economical and environmental cost has been long amortized. It is clean and wearable, and I trust that it would easily find a second home through a donation container (it is waaaay too heavy to bring to Barcelona just to introduce it in a swap and see if anybody wants it; also not for Barcelona climate). And yet I struggle.

It is the velveteen rabbit of garments, and here I am, the one usually telling people to divorce things from the feelings associated with them, unable to discard a worn out parka.

After 19 years of wearing it, January 2022.

Intercambio de ropa | 19 de marzo 11:00 – 14:00 en Ateneu Roig, c/ Torrent d’En Vidalet 32, Barcelona

Para todas que en la primavera de 2020 pensábamos que ésto lo iba a cambiar todo: No hemos entendido nada: La pandemia capitalista trae pandemias víricas, climáticas y despóticas.

Aunque, al no depender de nadie más, el discurso de la responsabilidad individual es el más atractivo y simple, ni es una solución real ni nos hace vivir mejor: Huir del problema con la conciencia tranquila.

Pan y circo, siempre: “A los poderes establecidos, a los poderes fácticos —Iglesia y monarquía incluidos—, les interesa que los españoles sigan estando drogados con la tauromaquia, no vaya a ser que se la quitemos y les dé por pensar, por vigilar a los gobernantes o, lo que ya sería catastrófico, por hacerse preguntas incómodas sobre religión o política.

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If you want a step-by-step breakdown on why industrial garment sizing is crap: How the Fit Industrial Complex Is Conspiring Against Us.

A reminder that the sustainable or more natural life would be also uncomfortable and, occasionally, emotionally painful (and that the actual price and externalities of doing certain activities in certain places are just not worth it): The Forever Ranch.

This is horrid and second-hand traumatizing, and has to be read: That’s How It Works When You’re a Woman on the Internet.

In the case of Un Armario Verde, it has happened: trying to reach my key demographic on Facebook, something that worked OK pre-pandemic, has become impossible – people have left the room: This Party Sucks, Why Haven’t We Left.

And that’s it for this week! I hope that you enjoyed reading and would be very happy to hear from you, regarding garments filled with memories or anything else… in the comments below, via Facebook or Instagram, or via e-mail at luize.ratniece [a] gmail .com

Guardarrr is a weekly bilingual newsletter dedicated to sustainability and mindfulness in fashion. It is written by Luīze Ratniece, a sociologist and textile activist based in Barcelona. Guardarrr is both a tool for reflection and a crowdfunding channel for the wardrobe tracking app that Luīze is building. If you read this newsletter and value it, please consider going to the paid version to fund this project for a monthly equivalent of a coffee + pastry. Each subscription warms my heart immensely and helps going on, thank you so much for being here with me!

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