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WHEN I SHOWED MY HUSBAND the hard won treasures from my latest shopping trip, he enquired “just how many pairs of black linen trousers does a person need?” My wardrobe consists to a great extent of a self-imposed uniform, with a limited range of colours, fabrics and shapes. The ideas and theories that surround uniform are vast: in this issue Nicola Donovan explores their sex appeal, pg 28, while Jessica Hemmings examines artists preoccupied with their meaning, pg 34. Uniforms can be a source of pride but also an emblem of shame, an idea exemplified by 19th century orphan uniforms, pg 46.

The autumn is a busy time for everyone and to help you organise your diary we have a new essential section filled with not-to-be-missed shows, exhibitions and must-have new products from 100% Design, Chelsea Craft Fair and Signpost to a New Space, to the ETN Conference in Turkey. We linger in Istanbul and discover traditional and contemporary textiles in this ancient land. Nowhere are these two things brought together more beautifully than in the work of Gönül Paksoy, pg 20 We also look to the future with the long awaited publication of Sarah E. Braddock Clarke's and Marie O'Mahony's Techno Textiles 2, pg 78 and eavesdrop on a conversation between Catherine Harper, Lesley Millar and Reiko Sudo as they discuss 21/21 at the Surrey Institute.

Louis Vuitton, pg 12 elegantly demonstates the re-emergence of tailoring to the catwalk. The emphasis on cut and cloth this season means the quality of our clothes will be more visible than ever but will this slow demand for the £1.74 T shirt I saw advertised with pride by a major chain store? I can’t help but wonder – if the retailer, wholesaler, factory owner and farmer take their cut, how much is left for the weaver who weaves the cloth? Someone, somewhere must be missing out. This is a thought I want to leave you with: as Fashion Week approaches and the best of British lay out their stalls and have a price tag of thousands, just how much should we pay for our clothes?

Enjoy the – hopefully– mellow days of autumn and don’t forget to take advantage of our many subscriber offers. Perhaps I’ll see you at the shows.

Polly Leonard, Editor

This month’s contributors gave us their thoughts on uniforms.


Uniforms are an identity-shorthand, almost impossible to avoid. Determined never to wear one, I have, inevitably, worn one uniform after another – dufflecoats, dungarees, floaty frocks, biker boots, terry de haviland, the dreaded ‘curatorial black’…As Frank Zappa said, “Everyone in this room is wearing a uniform, and don't kid yourself!"


For most of us memories of uniform go back to our school days. Often, these tend to be rather negative as we recall harsh fabrics, boring hemlines, unforgiving silhouettes and prescriptive colour combinations. It can be good to have something to rebel against and uniforms, though sometimes unpopular, may help define our self expression through clothing.


Uniforms speak of an attempt to squash individuality and its inevitable failure. My favourite is the lounge suit, because far from stifling expression its restraint can, with thought, project a unique sense of style. The fabric, cut and details can produce infinite variety. Dress-down Friday represents a far greater level of sartorial restriction than the traditional business suit ever did.

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