The theme of sustainability and ethical consumption has now reached the #menswear magazine and blogging world. In brief, it manifests as a call to buy better and to buy local. This is laudable – it’s harder and harder to avoid shocking headlines like the one about the 15 largest ships in the world (all or almost all container ships that move the world’s merchandise around) emitting more nitrogen and sulfur than all of the world’s cars combined. However, as with so many other aspects of clothing, complications lurk under the surface
Catching up with an old colleague last week, I noticed that this intense, brilliant force of nature, who has dedicated years of her life unflinchingly working to combat some of humanity’s most sordid problems, was wearing novelty Christmas pants. That morning, her steely eye must have picked out in her closet the trousers with printed Christmas trees, candy canes, and wrapped presents, and her acetylene-acute mind would have deemed them good.
How do you remember something you never knew? The orphaned opening words of Arnys et moi, journalist Philippe Trétiack’s memoir of the late and legendary Paris shop Arnys, raise that question: “I never stepped in. I never bought anything there. And now, it’s too late.”
The Earth is six billion years old, but the oldest surface of the floor of its oceans – more than 70% of its area – is only two hundred million years old. At the boundaries between tectonic plates, rather like a geological conveyor belt, a process called subduction forces surfaces down, down, down below the Earth’s crust into its mantle. In such a way ancient surfaces are continuously, inexorably destroyed and renewed without any regard to human life, span or sanity.
Instead of a gentle close, summer weltered and sweltered on. Social media automatically reminded a friend that on that same date exactly a decade before, she’d written about the joys of a cooler season, the rituals of changing out summer clothes for sweaters and all the changes in clothing colors that accompanied those of the leaves around us. Now, temperatures continued to notch the 90s under skies where the sun pounded down.
The great writer Stendhal, author of The Red and the Black, once wrote that he was so overcome by the beauty and culture of Florence that he had heart palpitations and “walked with the fear of falling.” Two centuries on, dozens of other visitors to Florence have similarly experienced what doctors now call “Stendhal syndrome,” a general term for overwhelming emotional response to art.
A walk home after dinner at a favorite neighborhood restaurant. Heavy rain. Neighbors who had just fertilized their sizeable yard with manure, of all things in a city. The resulting unspeakable slurry that collected and eddied on our sidewalk easily overcame my dress boots, and pushed me to act on a longstanding temptation, even if it was like closing the barn door after the cow – unfortunately not metaphorical enough – had left.