An international team of scientists from Switzerland, China, and the United States have moved one step closer towards the goal of a bulletproof T-shirt by combining cotton with boron carbide—the third hardest material known on earth and the stuff used to armor battle tanks.
Boron carbide—the third hardest material on earth—has been built into the fabric of cotton T-shirts, dramatically increasing its toughness. The process is a novel way to make nanocomposites that are both strong and flexible, and is a step towards creating effective new materials for body armour.
Continue reading How to Make a Bulletproof T-Shirt
A century and a half ago Count Rumford suggested that the hygienic properties of clothing merited serious scientific study. Included in the aims of the Royal Institution was the instruction of the public in the proper practice of the domestic arts, particularly those relating to “the management of heat and the saving of fuel.” Among these the application of the laws of heat to clothing and fuel economy was specially mentioned.1 That these very subjects have now become the everyday practical concern of every citizen hardly needs emphasizing; and besides these topics there are in modern war, as Sir Leonard Hill has graphically described in his recent article,2 a considerable number of situations which call for the provision of highly specialized clothing.
Continue reading Physiology of Clothing
The 2013 Academy Awards were, as always, as much about making appearances as about making films, as red carpet watchers noted fashion trends and faux pas. Both Jessica Chastain and Naomi Watts wore Armani, although fortunately not the same dress. And Best Supporting Actress Anne Hathaway switched from Valentino to a controversial pale pink Prada at the last minute because her original dress looked too much like someone else’s. Of course, no actress would be caught dead wearing the same style 2 years in a row. A new study of ancient beaded jewelry from a South African cave finds that ancient humans were no different, avoiding outdated styles as early as 75,000 years ago.
Continue reading Human Ancestors Were Fashion Conscious
In the Colours of Nature dye house, Vijayakumar Varathan is busy prepping a vat of indigo. At 51, he looks frail, with a tanned body made mostly of bones, but he runs to and fro, setting up an open fire where he’ll brew cauldrons of natural colorants made from plants.
He’s worked here for 15 years. But until his early 30s, Varathan mixed chemicals in a conventional clothing factory in the same region of southern India. There he developed a disease that caused layers of his skin to peel off. Even today, it is discolored. “It was pretty bad,” he says, in his fragmented English. “But I didn’t have a choice.”
Continue reading The Dirty Secret About Our Clothes
Political dressing is fashionable right now, but is it fashion? Celebrities and stars turned up dressed in black at the 75th Golden Globes Award ceremony. Instantly the media was in frenzy over what they dubbed “political fashion statements on the red carpet.” This is just the most recent droplet of a rainy season of purportedly political fashion.
It all started with the pantsuit parties in solidarity with U.S. presidential candidate Hillary Clinton in 2016. It then progressed with white supremacists uniformed in polos and khaki during their infamous Charlottesville demonstrations last year.
Continue reading Fashion’s Potential to Influence Politics and Culture
In the West, for many centuries, shaving has identified a good man properly oriented to a higher order, whether divine or political. Defying this regulation meant being ostracised. But on occasion, a general reorganisation of masculine norms has interrupted the shaving-respectability regime.
Continue reading How Beards Put a Brave Face on Threatened Masculinity
The apparel industry has a big problem. At a time when the economy is growing, unemployment is low, wages are rebounding and consumers are eager to buy, Americans are spending less and less on clothing.
The woes of retailers are often blamed on Amazon.com Inc. and its vise grip on e-commerce shoppers. Consumers glued to their phones would rather browse online instead of venturing out to their local malls, and that’s crushed sales and hastened the bankruptcies of brick-and-mortar stalwarts from American Apparel to Wet Seal.
But that’s not the whole story. The apparel industry seems to have no solution to the dwindling dollars Americans devote to their closets. Many upstarts promising to revolutionize the industry drift away with barely a whimper. Who needs fashion these days when you can express yourself through social media? Why buy that pricey new dress when you could fund a weekend getaway instead?
Continue reading The Death of Clothing