Life as the textile expert at a regional history museum

Monday, June 30, 2014

What Becomes A Seattleite Most?

This week I got asked what I knew about fur in Seattle. The answer was a little, but I wish I knew more.

Fur is obviously a very controversial subject, but not one that I personally feel strongly about. There are lots of things that get me riled up (war, poverty, certain Supreme Court decisions today) but I just feel like animal rights is never at the top of the list.  I would be a terrible PETA spokesperson because if given the option of wearing fur or going naked, I would definitely pick fur. Not because I love fur, but because I love being clothed. But I don't own any fur because I don't feel particularly positive toward it either. It is beautiful and luxurious but still feels kind of…you know…dead.

Historically speaking though, fur is pretty exciting. The Seattle area was and still is a major fur center. The Seattle Fur Exchange was started during the Gold Rush in 1898 and quickly became one of the most important fur auction houses in the country. Then, it because one of the top players in the world.

Through a bunch of mergers and reorganizations the Seattle Fur Exchange is now American Legend Cooperative--which appears to be a pretty big deal. It oversees the American Legend brand, as well as Blackglama, famous for their celebrity-filled campaigns.

Obscure celebrities like Elizabeth Taylor

…and whoever this is

And their headquarters is still right here in Seattle! You can go visit! It is just down the street at…

P.O. Box 58308 

Yeah, so they're a little secretive about their current location. Maybe because if you google "Seattle Fur Exchange" a big portion of the hits are about protests and other actions against. 

What the American Legend website lacks in location mapping, it makes up for in pics from previous advertising campaigns. Sorry fur haters, some of them are FAB.

Do yourself a favor and click on the image and see the full view

THAT SKIRT. Or wait, is that a coat? What am I looking at here?
Can I order it in plush velvet instead of mink? K, thanks. 

Ooh! A little 60s vibe. 
This reminds me that there are not enough over-the-knee boots in my life.

But then things go awry…

Ew. No. What sense does this make?
Thinking about wearing something furry in a warm beachy situation 
makes me feel unpleasant and overheated

And from the same campaign…


My neck is actively uncomfortable right now 

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Clothing Systems and Storage Systems

I turned 30!!

So far I avoided doing any of this:

(Well, during my staycation I think about 30% of what I ate could be classified as dessert, but I was usually pretty happy about it)

Instead I've tried to adopt an attitude more like this:


Anyway, my staycation was great. I went shopping, hung out with my parents, had a bunch of friends over one evening, submitted an abstract for a conference, and organized my closet. 

I should say, organized my closet AND actually took bags of stuff out of the apartment. Much like deaccessioning in a museum, sometimes the hardest part can be the actual disposal of unwanted stuff.  This is especially difficult if you have read Overdressed and are racked with guilt about feeding into the used clothing trade. So in case you are interested, here is what I did:

-Took the nicest stuff to the consignment store up the street.  This keeps it local and I know that my stuff is going directly to someone who wants it.

-Gently used, in-season stuff that the consignment store didn't want went to Goodwill. There is no way to control where it ends up, but my hope was that it would be good enough to get sold in a store in Seattle. Or, at the very least, the clothing buyer in sub-Saharan Africa won't be totally insulted by it.

-Old running shoes went to the recycling bin at Niketown.

-Worn-out clothes went to H&M's new textile recycling program. I have no idea if this is any better or worse than giving crap clothes to Goodwill, but they make it sound all very nice on their website. They gave me a 15% off coupon for donating, which I tried to immediately lose, because buying fast fashion from H&M is how I had ended up with a surplus pile of crap clothes in the first place.

By the time my staycation was over, I was looking forward to being back at work. And that was BEFORE I knew that an amazing gift was awaiting me in the conservation lab.

While I was gone, Betsy and a couple of the interns had started making prototypes for a big shoe-rehousing project that I'm hoping to start soon. The results were so beautiful that I almost cried.

Just thinking about the day when every pair of shoes in the collection would have a mount like this...

Monday, June 9, 2014

Staycation GIF-O-RAMA

In celebration of my 30th Birthday, I am taking all of this week OFF. I'm not going anywhere, I'm just staying put and doing whatever I feel inspired to do. It will probably look something like this:

And at the end of the week:

Oh, I guess I didn't write that conference proposal, start that book, or organize my closet. But I DID make a meal of of chocolate pretzels. #YOLO.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Violet Tatum

For various reasons, I find myself at the end of the weekend without a thrilling concept for a blog post. Please content yourself with this beautiful ad for a Seattle store in the 1920s. 

I don't yet know anything about Violet Tatum, other than the fact that she could afford a full-page ad in the Society Blue Book, and according to the bit at the bottom, occupied the entire second floor of the Silverstone Building at Westlake and Pine. 

So I'll just leave her here as a promise of things to come...

Research frontiers still to cover...

Intriguing people waiting to be discovered...

Onward the march of Seattle fashion history!!

(Btw I turn 30 in 10 days and the milestone inspires me to make overly-dramatic statements about my life and the future. I apologize for any eye rolling that you may experience as a result.)