House of Quinn

To Live | To Wear

HoQ: Sentimental Value

Julius ArthurComment

How important are your clothes to you? 

Clothing and fashion, before the times of Primark and H&M, were items that lasted. Clothing was looked after, mended, passed down, recycled. Clothing was more integrated into peoples lives and was more than just a statement of personal taste, status or trend. 

The value to clothing needs to be realised. Even in modern society, fast fashion is created by people striving to make a life for themselves. In some cases giving up their life just to make money to support another life. All because you want a cheap T-shirt. 

That T-shirt has its own sentimental story, but the sentiment attached is a sad one. 

We want to change that don't we? 

The idea of sentiment is being explored by Emily Spivack, a writer and fashion historian. She is the creator of the Smithsonian fashion blog Threaded. A blog devoted to Sartorial content, fashion history and cultural effects of fashion. 

Emily's recent project "Sentimental Value" is an archive of clothing that has been accumulated purely on its sentimental merit. 

Emily's interest in the story's behind clothing sparked when she came across a very detailed tale behind a dress that someone was selling on Ebay. An item of clothing that came with its own history and account of where it was worn and what happened while wearing it, quite literally added to the description of the items listing. 

The story in its self was more captivating than the actual garment. Emily delved deep into the world of ebay listings to uproot some of the most detailed, personal and emotional stories connected to an array of clothing. From evening wear to the running shoes. Mundane and every day items that suddenly had a completely different appeal to them. 

Authentic Whitney Houston Handmade Snakeskin Dress, worn by Whitney

PROVENANCE Lot 322 of Whitney Houston”s court-ordered debt auction on January 9, 2007, in Irvington, New Jersey

Own a piece of history with this authentic long-sleeve floor-length dress is of a casino online golden color with allover snakeskin print. High neck with zipper closure at back. No size or label present as it was custom tailored for Whitney. She had a 24″ waist 35″ Hips.

The collections and obsession with these stories began online, and Emily has put together the "Sentimental Value" online archive, that shows all the items she has come across on her exploration of the popular listings website. 

Emily moved on from digitally archiving these finds, to wondering what the outcome would be if she started physically collecting these items. She now owns around 70 pieces sourced directly from Ebay and similar sites. 

The Philadelphia Art Alliance  worked with Emily in 2013 to put together an exhibition of the collection. showcasing each individual story and the connections that every garment had with its old owners, and the interactions it now has with its new owner and the public viewing it. 

This cache of stockings was the first purchase Spivack made on the basis of its back-story. 

a lot of vintage stockings, supposedly hidden in a barn where they had been used in pornographic films.

“I was looking for vintage high heels, and I came upon this vintage Playboy bunny outfit from the ’60s with the puff-ball tail and stockings, and these beautiful black high heels. They had all the costume elements, and also the woman’s original ID card and a photo of her wearing street clothes, just looking totally normal and completely anonymous. To find this costume that’s so loaded and also see this person who would put it on in the expressionless photo, all these things just clicked for me.”
Emily Spivcak for Collectors weekly 

the collection of found objects is fascinating. Not only does it tell a million stories, it also demonstrates the power of sentiment and time. Longevity and practicality of clothing. 

The exhibition had a catalogue that ran along side it and can be found here