Anti-Surveillance Clothing

The use of facial recognition software for commercial purposes is becoming more common, but, as Amazon scans faces in its physical shop and Facebook searches photos of users to add tags to, those concerned about their privacy are fighting back.

Berlin-based artist and technologist Adam Harvey aims to overwhelm and confuse these systems by presenting them with thousands of false hits so they can’t tell which faces are real.

The Hyperface project involves printing patterns on to clothing or textiles, which then appear to have eyes, mouths and other features that a computer can interpret as a face.

Read more: Anti-surveillance clothing aims to hide wearers from facial recognition

Clothing Insulation with Different Drapes of Sari Ensembles

The word “sari” means a strip of cloth. Historic literature points towards the use of this garment even during the Indus Valley civilization in circa 3000 BC. India has a very long and rich textile tradition. The saris vary in style, material and embellishment across the regions and cultures. A recent large-scale yearlong field study in 28 Indian offices has shown that 99% of Indian women are dressed in Indian ensembles. However, knowledge on the sari’s clothing insulation is very limited in the current codes. ASHRAE standards carry the clo values of many western-style ensembles only.

The sari in its modern day avatar is a single rectangular piece of unstitched cloth: 1.15 – 1.25 m wide and 5 to 8.1 m long. The draping style of sari varies with geographical area and the activity of the female, while there are more than a hundred known styles of draping. A unique feature of sari is that it changes the insulation level significantly just by adjusting the drapes, and there are many ways to drape the upper body and lower body. The drape of the ensemble depends on several factors including weather, occassion, and activity of the person and it alters the microclimate around various body parts.

sari clothing insulation

The steps of sari draping in “nivi” style. Source: Saris: An Illustrated Guide to the Indian Art of Draping (PDF), C. Boulanger, 1997.

For this study we used the most popular “nivi” style of draping along with its four subvariations using two 5.75 m long saris. We draped a female manikin in two different saris. These are (1) a heavy weight poly-cotton handloom sari, and (2) a lightweight pure silk sari made in the Indian states of Karnataka and Tamilnadu respectively. All together, we tested nine combinations of ensemble/drapes commonly observed in office buildings in both winter and summer.

Unlike the western outfits, the sari was found to be a unique ensemble offering a range of clothing insulation, rather than a single value for a given set of garments of the ensemble depending on the drape. We noted the clothing insulation varying by about 35% due to the changes in drape on the upper body alone. The winter ensembles had a clothing insulation of 1.11 to 1.39 clo, while the summer and monsoon ensembles provided 0.62 to 0.96 clo as clothing insulation.

Quoted from: Versatile Indian sari: Clothing insulation with different drapes of typical sari ensembles, Madhavi Indraganti et al, Proceedings of 8th Windsor Conference: Counting the Cost of Comfort in a Changing World, Cumberland Lodge, Windsor, UK, 10-13 April 2014. London: Network for Comfort and Energy Use in Buildings. Many thanks to Elizabeth Shove.

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Furoshiki: Zero-Waste Shopping in Japan

In a time when cloth-making was one of the most advanced technologies, a piece of square cloth was all that a man needed to carry goods around. Japanese call it ‘Furoshiki’, a square cloth that with different wrapping techniques can basically transport anything. With its name meaning ‘bath spread’, Furoshiki is a traditional kind of wrapping cloth made of natural materials like silk and cotton. It is believed to date back to the 8th century. What was at first used to wrap up noblemen’s clothes in bathhouses gradually transported goods and gifts.

Furoshiki zero waste shopping in japan

Click to enlarge. More pictures here.

Modern bags might have outshone Furoshiki, but recent years have seen its comeback as a green alternative to shopping bags, thanks to the ‘Mottainai Furoshiki’ initiative by Yuriko Koike, Japan’s Minister of the Environment, in 2006. “It’s a shame for something to go to waste without having made use of its potential in full,” said Koike. Like what beauty label LUSH has followed to produce, the modern Furoshiki Koike upheld was made of recycled PET bottles that, as the Minister put it, “can wrap almost anything in it regardless of size or shape with a little ingenuity by simply folding it in a right way.”

The above graph demonstrating different wrapping techniques went viral on the internet. A wave of shops emerged to sell fancy furoshiki. The Minister’s statement holds some truism because a furoshiki does wrap up almost anything of all shapes and fragility – from vegetables to bottles, from wine glasses to eggs, from a baby to a dog. Besides its diversity, Furoshiki is a great alternative to adopt also because of its portability, leaving almost no room for excuses like ‘I forgot to bring my own bag’. Most of the time very decorative because Japanese treat it as an artistic craft, a furoshiki makes a great scarf, headband or pocket square.

ren wanLight and small, it comfortably fits in your pocket or day bag, whilst some furoshiki clothes are big enough to a bag whose form you can change every other day. A personal experiment proves that it helps encourage shoppers to opt for less- or un-packaged options. To avoid unnecessary packaging I visit local grocery stores for unpackaged tomatoes and to the plastic bag addicts’ surprise, it is very easy and light to transport. Just think about how one piece of cloth has the potential to replace all shopping bags. Does it not make it one of the smartest solution to shopping bags and excessive packaging?

This is a guest post by Ren Wan, a writer and sustainability advocate who is based in Hong Kong. She runs JupYeah, an online swapping platform, is a managing editor for WestEast Magazine, and blogs at Loccomama.

Caribou Skin Clothing Beats High-Tech Expedition Clothing

caribou skin clothing“Inuit elders continually stress the importance of wearing caribou skin clothing whenever travelling out on the land in the fall, winter, or spring. They believe caribou skin clothing provides protection from extremely cold weather that is superior to fabric ensembles recommended for the Arctic by some manufacturers. Inuit have used caribou skin clothing since pre-historic times. The purpose of this research was to collect laboratory and ethnographic data on the thermal comfort of Inuit-made caribou skin clothing, and expedition clothing produced for arctic travellers.”

“There were no significant differences in changes over time between the military and expedition clothing ensembles with either the perception of comfort data or the skin temperature data; therefore, these data are grouped together. Findings indicate that the overall skin temperature, as well as the cheek, thigh, toe, and torso temperatures, remained significantly higher when wearing the caribou skin ensemble compared to changes observed when wearing the military or expedition clothing ensembles.”

Comparison of traditional and manufactured cold weather ensembles (PDF), Jill Oakes, in Climate Research, February 23, 1995. The paper might be a bit outdated, but it is interesting to read. Picture: Inuit woman’s winter suit, pre-1927 at Liverpool Museums. More about caribou skin clothing at Gates of the Arctic. Thanks to Jon Freise.

Related: Insulation: first the body, then the home.

Pedal Powered Un-Knitting Machine

pedal powered un-knitting machine

“A highly unusual bicycle, designed to help recycle unwanted woollen clothes, unravels any clothing item back into its pre-knitted form. It has been selected as one of the best student design projects of 2012 by the British National Centre for Craft and Design.”

“The un-knitting machine is based on pedal power and built around an old bicycle frame. The un-knitter sits on a chair pedalling and wool passes through steam coming out of a kettle before being collected on a spindle. The machine was designed by Imogen Hedges, a student at Kingston University.” Read more. Via Treehugger.


Locally Farmed Clothing: The Fibershed Project

“In 1965, 95% of the clothing in a typical American’s closet was made in America. Today less than 5% of our clothes are made here. Unfortunately, this huge movement of the industry was not prompted by a desire for higher standards of production, economic equity for laborers, or tight environmental regulation. It was done to circumvent the policies, unions, and costs associated with doing business on shore. We have off-shored the effects of our consumption, which has led to a great disconnect of the actual environmental and social costs of our clothing.”

Fibershed 5“A bioregional supply chain known as a Fibershed aims to bring a thriving local alternative to conventional textile manufacturing systems and to support communities in reviving, sustaining, and networking their raw material base with skilled design and artisanal textile talent.”

“The Fibershed project began in 2010 with a one-year challenge to create an experimental wardrobe from fibers, dye plants, and local labor all sourced from within 150 miles of the project headquarters. As the wardrobe was constructed over the one-year period, so, too, was the network of artisans and farmers responsible for its creation.”

“The garments were primarily hand-constructed. The rural region proved to be rich in raw materials: word-class alpaca, the finest merino wools, color-grown cottons, and the softest angora. The design talent from the urban sector was abundant in skills, experience, and passion. Many of the essential elements necessary to engage a bioregional supply were in place: the animals, plants and people. However, the necessary machinery to produce conventional clothing was nowhere to be found. The group relied on time-honored skills that artisans throughout time have relied upon to make cloth: spinning wheels, knitting needles, and floor looms.”

“We at Fibershed hope our model can serve as a guide for other communities interested in increasing their resiliency and self-sufficiency. We also hope it offers inspiration that sustainable, local solutions for almost any product or service can be successfully developed by those willing to dream big and put in the sweat work to make it a reality.”

Read more: Fibershed – local fibers, local dyes, local labor. Via Energy Bulletin.