BrownTown invites Hannah Linsky, vintage stylist, seller, educator, and liver and breather of all things fashion to unpack the politics of dress. The friends use their experiences with clothing and fashion growing up to dissect the often overlooked yet important cultural artifact. As an everyday window into individual and collective beliefs and values, the limitless expression of how we adorn our bodies is a site for discussion around gender and patriarchy; sustainability, labor, and capitalism; and much more. The politics of dress communicate praxis of power and hierarchy yet offer an opportunity for resistance and decolonization. Listen to Episode 89, Part 2!
BrownTown invites Hannah Linsky (she/her), vintage stylist, seller, educator, and liver and breather of all things fashion to unpack the politics of dress. The friends use their experiences with clothing and fashion growing up to dissect the often overlooked yet important cultural artifact. As an everyday window into individual and collective beliefs and values, the limitless expression of how we adorn our bodies is a site for discussion around gender and patriarchy; sustainability, labor, and capitalism; and much more. The politics of dress communicate praxis of power and hierarchy yet offer an opportunity for resistance and decolonization. Listen to Episode 89, Part 2!
Full Transcription Here!
Hannah Linsky is a vintage stylist, seller, occasional model and avid collector. She lives and breathes fashion and loves playing dress up almost as much as she loves talking fashion. She is a recent graduate of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where she earned her Master’s in Art Education. Her work Revolutionary Dress centers around examining historical movements through the lens of dress.
Rev Dress (site, Instagram) looks at the ways dress has been used as a strategic tool of resistance and revolution, across countries, cultures, and communities from the past and today. Dress is an important and often overlooked cultural artifact, a window into so many aspects of human life and behavior. Studying what people wore can help us understand their daily experiences, beliefs, values, social structures and so much more. We can use what we’ve learned about past people and movements to inform our choices today, and better recognize how our dress can be one tool amongst many in our collective, ongoing fight toward liberation.
Mentioned in episode:
Hannah's recs on accounts and people to follow:
CREDITS: Intro soundbite from Alokvmenon and outro music Wu Wear: The Garment Renaissance by the RZA ft. Method Man & Cappadonna. Audio engineered by Kiera Battles. Episode photo by Hannah Linsky.
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BrownTown invites Hannah Linsky, vintage stylist, seller, educator, and liver and breather of all things fashion to unpack the politics of dress. The friends use their experiences with clothing and fashion growing up to dissect the often overlooked yet important cultural artifact. As an everyday window into individual and collective beliefs and values, the limitless expression of how we adorn our bodies is a site for discussion around gender and patriarchy; sustainability, labor, and capitalism; and much more. The politics of dress communicate praxis of power and hierarchy yet offer an opportunity for resistance and decolonization. Stay tuned for Part 2!
(clip from Alokvmenon)
[00:00:51] ALOK: From a young age we have been misled to believe that random and arbitrary articles of cloth, textiles, colors, scent, have a gender. They do not. They become gendered as part of a political project of making the Western gender binary. Because of this, we repress our own creative expression, limit our aesthetic imagination, and confine our potential beauty. Some of us don't wear skirts or lipstick because we've been told that they are feminine, and that to be feminine is to not be masculine. Some of us do not wear ties because we've been told that they're masculine. And to be masculine is to not be feminine. We rehash contrived and monolithic images of masculinity and femininity which, at this point, have become so flat it's like soda that's been in the fridge for centuries. And that's not fashion, darling. It's a farce. Every article of clothing should be for anyone who wants to wear it regardless of their gender.
BODY OF EPISODE
[00:01:49] David: I wanna welcome everyone to another installment of Bourbon 'n BrownTown. I am your co-host, David.
Starting it off, we just wanna shout out to the Let Us Breathe Collective. Shout out to The Breathing Room. For the first time ever, we're recording out of the Malik Alim studio. Which is incredibly exciting. We're incredibly honored. As always, I'm here with my boy, Caullen. Caullen, how you doing today, bro?
[00:02:12] Caullen: I'm feeling real silly, I'm not gonna lie. Feeling just... in a silly mood. It's been a long day here with the homies. Drinking a little bit. Things are vibing. So I'm feeling good. I'm feeling decent. How are you?
[00:02:25] David: You know what, we're feeling better than the day originally started. And that's usually how these Bourbon 'n BrownTown recordings go for us- or go for David. You know, I think it's always a.... what's the word I'm looking for.... it's like, I'm so happy to sometimes just do this shit. I get to do this shit for fun, but it's also part of my job. So it's like, it's a little bit of that. Mix and match. But, once again, I think I'm just incredibly grateful for this space. We've been recording in a few different spaces. We were primarily virtual, but once again, just wanna shout out to the space. Caullen, do you actually wanna give a little context for folks to let them know where we're at?
[00:03:02] Caullen: Yeah! For those who don't know, especially who aren't from Chicago or moved into Chicago- the Let Us Breathe Collective make programs and operate out of the Breathing Room Space, which is an arts and healing organizing headquarters and platform of liberatory and cultural work in Chicago through an abolitionist lens about the abolition of the PIC. They started in 2014 as kind of a Chicago response to the murder of Michael Brown in Ferguson. Artists, educators, activators, activists, lots of different folks in the community started this space at Freedom Square in 2016 a couple years later. And it's really grown to a physical manifestation that has been an organizing hub and has been really just a beautiful beacon of abolitionist theory and practice, and healing, and all the things that encompass abolition. Both the tearing down of violent structures and the PIC, but also building up of healing spaces, and challenging moments and restorative justice and transformative justice, and all the things. It has really been, for me being in Chicago, really a good space. And the folks who operate it and I've been communicating with the past couple years, I, as in Caullen, as Soapbox's entity, I'm just very, very grateful for that learning and that type of thing.
Transplants like me, especially, in this space and in the movement, especially in Chicago. And as I've learned and sharpened my politics in this city, and as Soapbox has grown in this city, it's been awesome. It's been dope.
And shout out to AirGo, the homies, Daniel and Dame for letting us in their specific space in the Malik Alim Studios. Shout out and rest in power, Malik Alim. And yeah, it's really cool to be here.
[00:04:49] David: Yeah, especially in this setting, cause you know- I don't know, it's always so exciting when we're able to do our shit. And so here we are with another episode. And today, specifically before we introduce our guest, we're looking at the ways dress- so clothing, the shit you hang from your body has been used as a strategic tool for both resistance and revolution. We're gonna get into the nitty gritty of it, but we're really looking at dress as an important cultural artifact and a window into aspects of human life and behavior.
[00:05:22] Caullen: For y'all that don't motherfucking know, Hannah is a vintage stylist, seller, occasional model and avid collector. She lives and breathes fashion and loves playing dress up almost as much as she loves talking fashion. She's a recent graduate of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, shout out, where she earned her Master's in Art Education. Her work centers around examining historical movements through the lens of dress. Hannah, what's goody?
[00:05:50] Hannah: Hey guys, nice to be here. Glad to be here.
[00:05:53] David: Hey! How you doing today?
[00:05:55] Hannah: I'm doing good. I was telling David as I walked in, I've been listening to your pod since 2019, so it's very surreal to be here recording an episode. Behind the scenes, seeing how it all goes down.
[00:06:07] Caullen: Very, very messy.
[00:06:08] David: There's not a lot of magic.
[00:06:12] Caullen: And he goes back with me and it's a whole thing.
[00:06:14] Hannah: Very humble.
[00:06:15] Caullen: Me mumble through stuff, and try it again and it sounds the exact same, but in my mind it's better. It's a whole thing.
[00:06:20] David: But we're so excited to have you here with us. Here for this in-person recording. I think I'd love for us to come in with a check-in. As we are talking about fashion, it is October, we've been blessed with some beautiful days... however, let's share what some of our favorite fall fits are. Y'all got any in mind off the dome?
[00:06:42] Caullen: I started this check-in, so I definitely do. I like fall for a lot of reasons, but I think I have- I'm most equipped clothing-wise to stun these motherfuckers. (laughing)
So, I feel like my favorite, but also most practical fall fit is: some bigger shoes, like right now I got some bigger shoes, they're tall Forces that look almost like army boots, which are like, oohewww, collar-pull. But I like them, right? And with skinny, tight pants, but with a hoodie. A cool color hoodie. Probably fabletics, I'm not gonna lie. Or No Cop Academy hoodie, but with a jean jacket over it. Cause the layers matter, you know what I'm saying? It never gets too hot, but also if it gets cold, it's fine too.
[00:07:36] David: And what kind of jean though? Like a washed out jean? Or like a dark?
[00:07:39] Caullen: It's kinda a washed out jean. Because I wanna be able to wear dark jeans on my jean pants, and not look like a Canadian tuxedo.
Shout out to Canadian tuxedos. Those are fine! It's not necessarily my vibe. So it's like, dark pants that are not- Yeah, dark pants. Big shoes or boots of some sort. Cool looking hoodie, get the jean jacket over it. And then the secret is a chain underneath the hoodie. With the t-shirt. Graphic tee.
[00:08:04] David: They just see it from behind you, cause the chain pops out.
[00:08:06] Caullen: Exactly! Just give them a little somethin.
[00:08:09] Hannah: You gave a good formula. I'll give a good fall outfit formula also.
[00:08:14] Caullen: Give it to me.
[00:08:15] Hannah: I love a long tall boot, with a short skirt, and then a long jacket. Which is also a song.
(plays Short Skirt/Long Jacket by CAKE)
Love playing with proportions- similar to you, you know, like something short, something long over the top of it. Top doesn't matter as much. We're layering also. And I love a tall boot. Fall is Tall Boot Season.
[00:08:47] Caullen: Tall Boot Gang. TBG mothafuckaaaaa.
[00:08:51] David: Wild. And see, for David, I think with regards to fall, I think about going to school, so I'm like placing myself in that position. And so I'm all about like what gets me from point A to point B. So I was definitely, I haven't done it as much now because luckily-
[00:09:09] Caullen: you didn't graduate. It's okay.
[00:09:11] David: Yeah, we've been driving. But I was a huge fan of Converse, you know, flatfooted shoes, my skateboard, shorts specifically when it's like, because the whole thing is like, I want to use my shorts as much as I can before it's too cold to wear shorts.
[00:09:25] Caullen: Oh, big facts.
[00:09:26] David: So, and I was actually, with regards to hoodies, I would wear like, I don't know what they're called, but it's like, it's not actually a hoodie. It's more like a long sleeve with a hoodie on it. Like, I don't know if that changes...
[00:09:38] Caullen: I know what you're talking about. I know what you're... that's, let's go crazy.
[00:09:41] David: But I'm specifically about those because it's like, if I'm skating, I'm gonna get hot. But it's also the weather where it's like, it's a little cold, so I kind of want that breeze. So that was really my get up: Converse, shorts, and the long sleeve with a hoodie on.
[00:09:54] Hannah: So like, thinner than a hoodie, but still has a hoodie?
[00:09:56] David: Fact. And then specifically my senior year of high school, I felt myself, you know. I started-I could do simple tricks on a, you know, when I was getting from point A to point B on my skateboard and shit.
And so I would do the dago with like, it was a yellow pin- is it called pin stripes? It's like, the little gray lines with the gray hoodie. So it was like a yellow long sleeve- it was basically like a dress shirt. It was a yellow and gray striped dress shirt that I would put over my dago. I felt so bad ass. So that's gonna be my fall fit.
[00:10:29] Caullen: Isn't "dago" a racial slur for Italians?
[00:10:31] David: Is that??
[00:10:32] Caullen: I think it's that, and also it means the shirt.
[00:10:35] David: I thought that was, I thought that was like, I thought that was...
[00:10:37] Caullen: I'm sure there's many-a racial slurs for Italians. I mean, they weren't white at one point in time, can you imagine?
[00:10:44] David: *laughing* that's another conversation. But-
[00:10:47] Caullen: See episode: Inventing Race.
[00:10:48] David: Oof. But we digress, but that's my fall fit. And I think, you know, to me, having lived in Chicago my entire life, I think it was using as much of your summer clothes as you can until you get into the winter.
Cause I'm definitely, for the wintertime- I know that's not our question- but I'm definitely all about layers. I'mma type a motherfucker who have like three layers, four layers, five layers. And I don't care.
[00:11:10] Hannah: You have to in this weather.
[00:11:13] David: And that's where we get into it. And so, Hannah, thank you so much for joining us. I know we- I think I met you- to your point, I think our first experience was like, Hey, I know you. And I was like, really, you do? It's like, yeah, you've listened to me speak hours. And I was like, here's the first person who I'm sitting with- granted we were in a vehicle so we couldn't like leave the conversation.
[00:11:35] Hannah: We had like four hours, five hours together immediately.
[00:11:38] Caullen: I was asleep in the back.
[00:11:39] David: But I think it was so wonderful to be able to hear, and I think you really helped fuel a lot of those early, early David hosting conversations. Cause like, we're still relatively new to it, you know, in regards to like, I hated, at that moment in life I know for a fact, I hated hearing myself, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. But, you know, I think it's just so beautiful to bring it into today where we are, and have you in here talking your shit. Right? And so we really do appreciate that. And so, on that note, let's dive into fashion, right?
[00:12:10] Caullen: Pose. Pose. Pose. I'm voguing, y'all can't see me though.
[00:12:16] David: But I would love to hear, you know, for folks who are tuning in, give us a little bit about your background and how you kind of came into this world as fashion taking over your life type thing.
[00:12:27] Caullen: Or did you take over fashion's life?
[00:12:28] David: Ooh
[00:12:28] Caullen: we ask the big questions on BnB!
[00:12:31] David: Let's go.
[00:12:33] Hannah: I mean it's cliche, but I've always loved fashion. I grew up, it was definitely a big part of me forming my own identity, was how I got to dress. And I think through that, through different jobs, ending up working in like secondhand retail spaces, kind of seeing just the sheer amount of waste fashion can create.
And also being able to form my own style through secondhand versus through kind of like fast fashion or like popular fashion outlets. Kind of just made me feel really passionate about being able to do that, and being around a lot of other people who were, and who were really knowledgeable about the history of where garments were coming from.
And because of that, I started diving into that more on my own and seeing sort of like the behind the scenes of the, you know, fashion industry is just rife with injustice and exploitation in so many different facets. And so as someone who loves fashion, I think taking that and holding fashion accountable because I love it and because I want to be able to love all parts of it and not just the creative artistic parts of it, but also like where things are coming from. And right now it's hard to do that.
And so from there also going into grad school and being in education spaces, having these really amazing political conversations with young people, with my peers and my mind is immediately going to the ways that fashion intersects with that. And bringing that up with other people and receiving blank stares a lot of times proving like, "I never thought about that."
[00:14:11] Caullen: Neoliberalism, what?
[00:14:14] Hannah: And not that they didn't receive it well, but just that, like, it was something not a lot of people were considering. And for me it was where my mind was going immediately. And so kind of realizing like, oh, this is a really like untapped conversation. This is something that's, you know, I'm never gonna say I'm the first one, there's a lot of other people having these conversations, but in so many spaces where it's relevant it's not coming up. And so how do we take that intersection of fashion and politics- cause they intersect in so many different ways- and how do we just bring those together more often?
And because my degree is in Education specifically, how do we bring those up in classroom spaces and other educational spaces? Where we're talking about history or art already fashion feeds into all of those things because we wear it and it's a part of our lives every day.
[00:15:05] Caullen: Every day, bro. Which is like all the time.
I mean we've had, not as many as I'd like, but conversations around this and around your work and stuff, which I always really appreciated. And I appreciate it because of what it is and because of like, I think clothes are cool and like I've had my own relationship with clothes and fashion and dress with my identity growing up- which we'll probably get into.
But I think also I just appreciate when we unpack and discuss things that are "not political", which to me is always laughable. Cause everything literally is. But other things more than others, but either like low-brow pop culture or like, I don't know, drill music or fashion or all these pieces of entertainment or self-expression. It's like, how can this not be political in like very, very high stakes ways of movements? Things that you've, I know the work that you do has dug into, but also does like everyday things. Like they all encode our values, and all the -isms and everything all at once. And I think it's just- it's how do we not unpack and look at that critically and all the things and look through history and nuance and, and yeah.
I don't know. I'm always appreciated that on that basis level, but also just the work and the care you bring into it. Not only with revolutionary dress, not only with like, thrifting and doing that sustainably and equitably and all that, but all the things I didn't even think about before as far as like supply chain, all that. I'm like, the shirt's $5 though, and it looks good. You're like, no, but it's, you know, who made them? I'm like, I don't know, I just want a shirt that looks fly. And wear a chain with it that'd be good. Where'd that chain come from? Were they blood diamonds? I don't know! So it's all layered, right?
And so I'm just, kudos and giving you flowers for the work you've done and how I've learned through your work, and your Instagram, and having conversations with you and stuff. So I just appreciate you being here for all the things. So I just wanna name that.
[00:17:00] David: Yeah. And I do think it's interesting because I feel that I'm part of a group of folks who was like,
[00:17:07] Caullen: the problem
[00:17:08] David: it doesn't matter what you wear. No. Like, to the thing is like, I, growing up, I think there was a period in my life where like I didn't get to choose what I wore, right?
And so like, I have that, and then it gets to a point where like, economically, my parents aren't in a position where I can like, get shit. And so, you know, we have to rely on things that as a child, you know, you get bullied on. cause I got Shaqs on instead of Jordan's.
[00:17:36] Caullen: Capital, bro. That's social capital, bro!
[00:17:37] David: But, and I think it's interesting because as an adult, when I was a shorty, I remember just being fucking angry. And not angry at my parents because I understood the situation and like how it was at home.
But to me it was all like, it was me asking these questions of like, why can't my parents or why is it the way it is? Versus me as adult now understanding and wishing I had the mentality of a 30 year old so I could treat these motherfuckers trying to flame me for my fucking whatever I was wearing.
But I think, so that's where I come into this. And I think to me, something that I've been really inspired by as we are politicizing ourselves, as we're becoming revolutionaries in our own ways, it's like really looking at every medium and mode for us to be able to challenge that.
And so when I was reading that- and I do wanna dive a little bit more into how you came about in your thesis- I think it's so wonderful to even think about that with what we're wearing on our shoulders is like, does that. And I think my first instance is when we were starting getting like, organizing swag, you know, what do we call it?
I feel like there was a term I was using. But swag was like, you know, like ways in which than what we're wearing on our body. Shout out TRAP House, who was also something earlier on for me was like, it creates dialogue, it creates questions, or if nothing else, someone else sees that shit and they're like, oh, well what do you mean by that?
TRAP House, as an example, is a streetwear clothing brand. Shout out to Mashaun. That focuses predominantly on transformative and restorative just practices. And so through their streetwear they bring about dialogue, questions, and conversations around, for example, who crime pays, right? Like who crime actually pays.
And so on physical clothing, whether that's sweaters, shirts, hats, et cetera, these things are put out into the open, right? Much like brandings and other things are. And so that's a little bit about TRAP House. Shout out to them for the work they've been doing over the last few years here in Chicago.
But kind of leaning a little bit back to you, Hannah, so I hear that you kind of grew into this and kind of having these conversations, where did then your thesis then take you with regards to revolutionary dress?
[00:20:02] Hannah: Well, I'm glad you brought up your childhood memories of what dress meant to you and kind of getting bullied for that and sort of that first experience and maybe not having like, the language for it.
Because I think coming from an education space and not like a fashion history degree or anything like that, my work was really centered around like, this is dress is so pervasive, it's such a big part of our lives, it's so intimately ingrained in our lived experiences, why aren't we mentioning that in schools at any point? Why aren't we having those conversations with youth, with young people? There's studies that show as early as middle school, sometimes even earlier, young people are recognizing that clothing has value, that it can relate to status or relate to, you know, like how you can exist in this world or in a certain spaces, especially.
But that's never actually discussed mostly, right? Especially in formal education settings, maybe with parents, maybe with other guardians, but it's not worked into curriculum. And so, often what we learn about dress is unspoken. It's like survival or it's you know, sort of the things we're observing, but it's not ever said aloud a lot of times.
And so, how do we work those conversations into classroom discussions around topics that we're already talking about? It's relevant to so many historical discussions that classroom spaces are having. And it would fall in line, and be able to help students bring topics from history into today, into their own lives. Talking about school dress codes, things like that. Talking about what you experienced also. That's so real. But it's something we learn on our own. It's not necessarily something that's ever discussed outwardly in those spaces. And so how do we bring those conversations up? Because they're important.
And they're also something that we can then use once we can name and once we have the language for, but we often don't get that language until later. Or maybe not at all.
[00:22:15] David: And so then, where is the intersection then with your thesis and these conversations or this dialogue?
[00:22:22] Hannah: I think I wanted to find historical movements where dress was a tool used by the organizers in that movement and examine that movement from the lens of dress. The way you might examine something from like music or literature or something like that, we can do that with dress also. And then also again, kind of use that as a segway into like current issues of dress, current understandings of what we wear, current movements and what they're wearing, if that matters and things like that.
So how do we take the historical context and unpack that and think about what they were wearing? Because it's also an engaging way to look at those movements. And it's also very relatable because a lot of those artifacts, things like leather jackets, things like, you know, distressed denim are things that we're still wearing today, but we might not understand the context or the symbolism behind what they used to mean, or sort of the radical act of wearing them at a specific time because now they're so pervasive and common.
And so how do we understand the context of that and then project that into our lived experiences now, or the ways that we engage with dress? Because our various identities allow us to engage with dress very differently.
[00:23:44] Caullen: The thing I've always loved about this conversation is the latitude it gives and the latitude of intentionality. Anything we wear at any point in time codes our values and or the -isms that affect us, we uphold or what have you, and all these things all at the same time.
So it's, again, it's always political. And at other times, it's obviously intentionally political, right? We do this for a reason, but no matter what it is, it's always encoded in these things which I think is important.
I think back to our episode with Matthew Manning and Courtney Phillips about Gumbo Media and Black media and cultural media, and media that really leans into the ethnic identity specifically. And like Gumbo Media is very much Black-owned and uplifts Black stories and all that, but also like all media's cultural media. Which the media we consider are "mainstream", "normal", is harmful or it's normally white, it's normally CIS, it's normally all the normative behaviors, and the identities that we know. But when we invisibilize that it gives it so much power.
And not that we shouldn't lean into our ethnic identities and what have you when we make media or other things, but I just, you know, fashion's always political, media's always political. It's always leaning into culture. It just might not be yours, or you might have been normalized first so long you don't see it. Even on a political spectrum. And so I wanna name that before we dig into other things that are highly intentionally and politically, even things like we may wear or what have you. So I want to just table set that before we move too, too far away from it.
[00:25:18] Hannah: Yeah. I think it's important to understand that fashion is both a really powerful tool of capitalism. I'm blanking on who said this, but there's this quote...a historian is quoted saying "fashion is capitalism's favorite child."
[00:25:38] Caullen: Ooohh whewwhew! Go crazy.
[00:25:41] Hannah: It is such a powerful tool of capitalism and it's also a powerful tool for state control. And the ways that we see the world and the ways that we interact with each other do rely on on how we perceive others as being dressed, as how we present ourselves. And it's so ingrained in us that I think it's like you're saying, it's not something we always name.
And so yeah, kind of going into this conversation, understanding that it's a powerful tool in so many ways, and we can use that and let it control us, or it can be like a way to subvert that control and that power.
[00:26:15] Caullen: I remember, I keep wanting to shout out to folks I don't care about. But I remember during the 2016 primaries for president in America, in the US, what's his name? Andrew Yang went to the debate and didn't wear a tie. And then the next debate he was like talking about all the think pieces about how he's not wearing a tie and what that means. And he was like, what y'all?? Y'all are trash. We're just- this is not important. And like,
[00:26:46] David: Did you listen to my talking points?
[00:26:47] Caullen: We can talk about Andrew Yang on a different episode, but it was like, you're actually right, this is all kind of bullshit. This is dumb. Like why are we talking about you not wearing a tie or not? And then how would that be covered if he wasn't, the only- the most notariable Asian candidates, or only the Asian candidate, or at least Asian-presenting candidate.
And so that whole dialogue ,and I was like, I don't agree with you on everything, but like, this is kind of weird. So when I hear you talking about state control and that, I think about for me as a man who's told, if it's a business casual event, and you need to wear a suit, right? And for someone who has never had to wear a suit for a job or like that. You know, I like dressing up for an event or something or I like putting on a suit or whenever those few times are. But I always think back, I'm like, why is this something I look forward to? Or why is it something I give value to?
What is this suit? How does that come from generations ago? From British military to like really the embodiment of like imperialism, white supremacy globally and historically. That's what it's like derived from, right? So it's like this thing that we give value to today. And for instance, if you have an expensive suit on, or a suit on at all, that means you're dressing for the job you want or the job you have. And all these things we've kind of learned growing up, especially as men to dress up and that's what that means.
Whereas if we peel back the generations and where it's actually comes from, it's actually a suit of a soldier. Like what does that mean as far as masculinity and violence and what have you, and how it's like, you know. And you know, when we're 17 and get our first suit or whatever, we're not thinking about all those things.
But you see how it manifests? You see how it manifests and you see how in the business world and when you have to wear these things, like these are the environments that you're carrying out those same -isms in very different ways.
[00:28:36] David: And sometimes without wanting to though. Like I'll speak to like the first time I wore a suit, it was like, so if you're Catholic, it's when it's your communion or whatever it's called. Like that's where I got my first suit for. It's basically for that. It's like I was being presented in front of the church and my dad's like, you need a suit. And I was like, are you serious? He was like, yeah. And I was always very anti, right? As an Aquarius or whatever. I'm like, fuck the standard of whatever the fuck. I mean, that's the blame I'm putting it in, right?
But like to that point I think it is just so interesting because like for dress code as an example, also like I was a motherfucker my junior year of high school, also life was burning up, but my junior year of high school, I probably spent like at least like 40 days in in-school suspension because I had colored Converse on. Now I had like 16 pair of different-
[00:29:20] Caullen: Uhh, Converses of color!
[00:29:22] David: Conver- Ooh.
[00:29:23] Caullen: It's 2022...
[00:29:25] David: But it's interesting cause like what do we put our focus on? And so to me it was like Converse. And to me it was like the different colors, because it mattered. And so I purposely would wear colored Converse to fuck with people cause like that was the dress code. It was like, fuck it's so stupid.
I was also mad at my family, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. But how we put our things into a space. But to me it still sits, right? Because that year, because I was in in-school suspension so much, I started creating these relationships with the homies who were in in-school suspension all the time. So, you know what I'm saying?
[00:30:00] Caullen: The other hooligans.
[00:30:02] David: Not even, like they were motherfuckers who would actually get into in-school suspension for like slapping a motherfucker in class or like, putting a bad word on the wall or whatever. And it's like, to me that was the instances where I was able to- or another very popular thing in my school was if girls had their skirt above their wrist length or how do we call that? Please help me out here. Like if they're above your fingers as you put them on your sides or whatever. Whatever, rule regulation, that's be the majority of the girls who are in the in-school suspension. And I'd be like, why are you here? It's like, cause apparently my skirts... but they would also fight about it like, my skirt's not too small, what the fuck, blah, blah, I'm not changing. And so I just think it's interesting as young folk on how we're conditioned, right?
Because also, another thing I'll name before we move forward, is my freshman year we come into this school and we didn't have a dress code. However, we were the largest freshman class in recorded history at that time. And also we had a large demographic of what you refer to as gang members. And so- with regarding color and shit. No, but that was the whole thing. There was so many fights my freshman year, that sophomore year they tried to instill a flat out dress code along the board.
And it's interesting because, so my freshman class is probably like, you know, in the 900's my graduating class was about like 620. And there was a large demographic of folks who I would see in in-school suspension who are simply there for breaking the dress code rules. And so I think this is just an example of the way in which they want to condition us into being submissive into policies and expectations from dress, to conduct, to the way in which your hair is.
I remember a big thing back then is like, you can't dye your hair. So mean you can't dye your hair? Dead ass. Like no, if it's not your real hair color, you can't do it. Says who? And so, I don't know, naming that as a way to table a lot of probably our experiences as well as a lot of our listeners who come into this game- and that's not to speak to the folks who were in private schools. I was in a public school, so the way those things change for the "reasons" that they do it. I'm using quotes because I'm thinking of like religious institutions, right? I'm like, why? Like, oh, it's cause Jesus wants- like the excuse of like, This is why-
[00:32:29] Caullen: motherfucker didn't wear draws.
[00:32:30] David: I'm so deadass. This leads us into thinking- and to your point, Hannah, of like, it's an important conversation to have even when we don't have language for it, right? Because it's something that will continuously be in our life. And it's like now, as an adult, I'm cool with it, but I really wish-
[00:32:49] Caullen: You're cool with what?
[00:32:51] David: Cool with using fashion in a way to like, do what I need it to.
[00:32:55] Caullen: But you're cool with it, but you're able to do it in the places you traverse. I think it's different.
[00:32:59] David: That's what I'm saying. No, no. Ohh, definitely. And I think I definitely, no, no, no. So like, oh, I was gonna take it in another way, but like No, no, you're definitely right in that. And I think, but that also speaks to the decisions that I made. I didn't want to do a stuffy job if it made me wear a tie.
And so I'd purposely not do jobs that like, made me wear a tie because like I didn't wanna. And so as humans we make these decisions and the way in which we want to identify, but also...what we don't wanna look like, as an example. So I don’t know where I was trying to take that.
[00:33:36] Hannah: No, I'm glad you're bringing that up. I actually, like, later on, I have the question written, When do you remember realizing that what you wore mattered? And I feel like you are answering that a lot and I love that. Because it just shows how pivotal that was to you as an adolescent growing up, and how that shaped what you wanted to be, or the spaces you wanted to be in.
But rarely are there adults or especially the educators in those spaces helping you through that. All you're hearing is like, you don't deserve to be in this classroom. You don't deserve an education today because of what you have on. Why is that something that is still happening now? You know, there are still dress codes.
[00:34:22] David: I'll pose that same question to you, Hannah. When did you realize the power of fashion, I guess?
[00:34:29] Hannah: I think for me it was very much a conversation of like how what I wore was gendered. I, growing up, dressed like I shopped in, you know, what is "the boys section" of stores as a child. I had my hair cut very short. And I felt very beautiful doing that. And I felt very feminine doing that, even if I didn't have the language to say that actually in the moment. But then when I got to middle school and high school I was mistaken for a boy a lot and that was- it didn't feel insulting, but it just messed with my perception of what womanhood was. Cause I felt very much like a woman in those moments, but I was being mistaken for something else. And so it was just kind of that first moment of like, oh, there's a larger acceptance of what beautiful or what femininity is. And as a white woman, I align with a lot of like what society says, like beauty and femininity is. For sure.
But in those moments, I was not dressing or aligning with it in certain ways that was having people mistake who I was. And so then, you know, there was a lot of overcorrection of like, okay, how do I perform femininity in a way that allows people to address me as how I wanna be addressed?
And that is, you know, and like a very minute example of what gender non-conforming people experience all the time to a much larger degree when there's gender dysphoria and things of that nature, especially at an adolescent age. But just as someone who was like, you know, I'm very much a woman, but I wanna dress this way and I feel feminine doing it, but like, society's telling me that's not feminine.
And I was like, whoa, that's...like, yeah. As a kid, having no one really say that to me, but having internalized it for a very long time, I think it affected for a long time how I presented myself. It was very much not how I felt comfortable, but how I thought like, if I want people to address me this way, I need to wear this.
[00:36:41] Caullen: And what I'm hearing too is the desire to be addressed a certain way, more than that feeling was more important. Whereas like now, I feel like your desire for your own feeling is more important than how people address you, right?
[00:36:58] Hannah: Oh, totally.
[00:36:59] Caullen: But like, you know, as a child, as a young person, as we all know, that's your social capital that's like you ain't got money, that's your cash or currency, right? So like, more important. I think it's important to note, if it's your first time listening to BnB, hopefully it's not, but David's a Chicano man, Hannah's a white woman, I'm a Black man. All those things, and we're all CIS, right? All those things matter in this conversation. Thank you for sharing that. And I think I was really interested about that too, cause I've never really asked you that. I mean, I haven't talked about that as far as growing up and all those things. So it's interesting hearing these things where, you know, "gendered" as like, boy or male or whatever, that made you feel a certain way. But the world tells you otherwise, right? The male gaze...it's a hell of a drug. It's a hell of a drug.
[00:37:54] Hannah: I'm interested, Caullen, if you have anything kind of like what David and I are talking about?
[00:37:59] Caullen: I mean, I’ll try to be short because I've mentioned this before on the podcast- as I just mentioned I'm a Black man, grew up with class privilege for sure. And I feel like there's certain instances where I'm like, oh shit, like I'm different from my Black friends- this is interesting.
And so I think growing up and like middle school was that age where clothing matters, right? And it has felt cool. I liked wearing baggier stuff. I legitimately felt good and enjoyed that. And up until then it's like my parents went out and bought clothes and it was whatever. I remember I went to the mall with my friend Taylor, shout out on labor episode. I don't know what episode it is, what number it is, but check it out.
We went to the mall. I like bought a nice little fit. I think I had either a summer job at the time or maybe I had allowance, which is another class privilege we can get into.. But I had some kind of funds, and so I bought like this tan...they were like sweatpants, with a tanned shirt. And I had some... They weren't Timberland's, they were like off-brand Timberland's essentially. So I was like matching.
[00:38:58] David: But they were krispy.
[00:38:59] Caullen: I was krispy. I was fresh. At the time I was! Right now I'd be like, what the hell are you doing, bro?
And so I showed my parents when I got home, and my parents were like, you know, go crazy, but you as Caullen, as a Black male student in middle school who has friends across the board, different socioeconomic statuses, and different races, whatever, your teachers are largely white teacher-base who knows you as a good student, whatever. You're gonna have to reestablish yourself as the good student because you're now wearing clothes that they identify with, like the bad Black kids, right? My parents didn't say that exactly, they were kind of like, "go crazy! But you gonna learn. You're gonna have to reestablish yourself."
And they were right. You know what I'm saying? And so that was, and I still wore those clothes. I liked them. And during that time I was learning even the status level of different "hiphop clothes" at the time. Like South Pole was cheap. But like, Ecko and Rockaway was a little more.
[00:40:00] David: FUBU bro.
[00:40:00] Caullen: And- FUBU was like cheap. FUBU was like, we weren't on FUBU.
[00:40:05] David: What about Phat Farm?
[00:40:07] Caullen: I had some Phat farm shoes at one point, yeah. But they were like- Phat Farm was weird cause it was like you could afford it, and also it was like, all right, we see you.
[00:40:13] David: I was into the skater rocker shit.
[00:40:14] Caullen: So yeah. So it was important. I liked that. I liked stuntin, you know what I'm saying? I liked all that. And I found a way to like... and just t-shirts were- just plain t-shirts were cool at the time too. I wasn't a big jersey guy. But I was also I was coming of age when, not only wearing jerseys of sports figures, largely Black sports figures, wearing them backwards was a thing so when you talk to someone, they see the name up front, not in the back. They see up front. So showing the name was important. Who was it? Was it Iverson or was a Kobe? Kobe's also a brilliant player. Iverson's good, but Iverson's hood! Iverson's from the hood. I could get into a whole episode about Iverson.
[00:40:55] David: "Practice?!"
[00:40:56] Caullen: Talking about practice? His friend was killed, fuck you mean?! Anyway, so, but that means something. Who are you wearing? And then that translates to Gucci and other bigger fashion brands that like, especially in the early '00s that hip hoppers, rappers and stuff wore and stuff. Seeing the name up front was important. That was currency in the Black community, as far as Black masculinity especially, clothing mattered.
And it's interesting cause I had, again I've always had friends across the board, and so like for some of my white friends, they didn't really care about that as much. We get to high school, junior high, you know, Abercrombie, all that stuff became more popular and that was kind of a thing. But clothing didn't matter that much cause their parents were District Attorney, prosecutors, and shit. They were good.
Like literally, my good friend Max was a class clown, white dude. His dad was a prosecutor. I didn't know how bad that was at the time. But now I know. So it's just funny looking back at childhood, and to both your guys' stories about how, for me, race and class and like gender for sure, I didn't think about it as much, was so ingrained and all that. But I knew what made me feel good. I legitimately was not trying to perform Blackness cause I didn't.. I felt away from it by any means. That wasn't the case, I just liked wearing a double XL Ecko shirt, my small middle school self. You know what I'm saying? And then you fast forward, you know, 20-some-odd-years, I'm like, gimme that medium son, you know what I mean?
[00:42:30] Hannah: Those tight pants.
[00:42:31] David: I'm gonna cut it and make it smaller.
[00:42:32] Caullen: No, it's funny. Cause l would wear, seriously, I would wear those like large shirts, whatever cause that made me feel good. My brother who's seven years older than I was, he was maybe in high school when he got to college, he would wear- Black man, obviously, he would wear tight Abercrombie shirts with like smaller pants that rips up, the rips and cuts and stuff and everything. And we were totally different from what we wore. Same household, same education, you know, all that, but totally different.
I remember one time we went to Dallas to visit my grandma and my family and stuff. And my brother had a super fucking wrinkled Abercrombie dress shirt. We were going to a Black church, and my grandma's like, "you want me to iron that for you, baby?" And my brother's like, "no, that's how it's supposed to be, grandma."
And I'm like, no you need to iron that shit. That shit is dusty! Iron that motherfucker. But my shit was like two sizes too big. But that's what I felt good in, that's what he felt good in. It's just fascinating to me how much just all the development things and the -isms that we encode and the status that we encode and things that both of you guys mentioned just make us feel good. And yet are we unconsciously unpacking all those in the world? Are we socialized? Absolutely. But like, end of the day, what makes you feel good? As a young person, as a early twenties, now. I love this conversation cause it shows our values.
And in junior high when I was being kind of politicized as I mentioned a bunch of times in this podcast series, I started making my own shirts. I started making t-shirts with movies on them; like Pulp Fiction, and Crash from 2005 or whatever. And then I started also making ones with like, Malcolm X and political figures. I would have the iron on and shit, and I got good at it. I started selling shirts sometimes. I had a little hustle, you know what I'm saying? So I started making my shirts. I'm like, oh, I want people to know what this means. I want people to know this is what I feel. And I'll stop in a moment, I swear.
But I try to mention this on these episodes all the time about how language has power and it matters. There was a time, I think it was sophomore year in high school, I think a lot of rap I was listening to, rappers keep saying, "ya dig?" "Oh, blah, whatever ya dig? Oh, you dig?" And you know, that term "ya dig" I just think of sixties, seventies, eighties Black power movement coming about. That's how people talk and stuff. And that meant something. That, to me, it connotes a time. And so I put "ya dig" on a fucking, like double XL white tee, a quality- them cotton shits, bro. And the "i" in "dig" had a Black power fist.
The term something, the Black power fist meant something, the big ass shirt on my tiny sophomore year high school body meant something. And like I knew it, I was intentional, right? I made that, I was aware of it, but not as aware of how much that actually, the power that held. And how that identified where I was in my political conscience at the time. I still wanted to wear shit that made me feel good at the same time.
[00:45:40] Hannah: I love, I feel like we could spend the whole episode talking about this, but I love asking people this question because of these conversations. It can create conversation for hours. Clearly that's like memories that are ingrained in us, is like how we present because it's still affects how we present now, whether we've unpacked it or not.
And so I think, what if we had had more adults in those moments talking us through those conversations, giving us language, giving us context also, right? That's where the history of this comes in, is like, you are not the first person to struggle through that. You are not going to be the last person. This is in the context of like so many social constructions that we have based on gender, race, class, et cetera. You are not alone in feeling that way. If someone had told me that in that moment, maybe it wouldn't have taken me, you know, however many years to be like, oh, I'm not dressing for me, I'm dressing for men, for what people think I should be. Maybe I would've enjoyed dressing a lot more sooner. And that's like a very innocent example, but there's like real survival aspects of that too, that other people are experiencing. And if they had been able to unpack that sooner where would we be?
[00:46:58] Caullen: And survival for you as a woman, even as a young person. And me- they're both real in very different ways. Like for you it's getting home. For me it's getting jonesed on by my friends, right? And flame sessions were real. Were real. You get a scuff on your shoe? Oh boy, you're not making it home without getting talked about, to your face! And they're gonna be creative too. Very creative.
[00:47:27] David: Didn't give a fuck. And I think something to sit with is like if we had had folks to be able to give us language and dialogue about things, I think a big thing for myself when I was a shorty was I always wanted to grow my hair out. And so if you see me here in 2022, like long hair, don't care. I also always wanted to get piercings. I was like, all these things that you see within me now. But when I was a young person, it was constantly referred to as like, nah, that makes you look feminine. That makes you look like a girl. This, that, the fifth. That's why I keep mentioning the fact that some folks have this ability to choose what they wear.
There's a large demographic of folks who like, are forced to, or are told to that this is where that comes from. And so to me it's constantly being, you know, the oldest of my fam or whatever, I had these expectations and accountability to dress a way or not dress a certain way; which I was constantly like, no, I want a piercing, what the fuck's the thing? No, but only women have piercings. Why would you need piercings? This Is that the fifth? I want long hair. Oh. So you can look like my girl. Even most recently, my dad had like, not most recently, but like the most recent thing where my dad before I like continued to check him, I started growing my hair out, and I got my piercings in a couple years ago and I got home and my dad's like, oh look, the daughter I always wanted, you know what I'm saying?
So these are things that like, and I'm naming him, and my dad knows what's up. Because he'll say that he's aware of where this comes from, but he's not, you feel what I'm saying? And that's where like now I've had an opportunity. he sees me like, I'll even have like, what is this called? This is called a specific thing.
[00:48:56] Hannah: It's a hair claw.
[00:48:57] David: A hair claw. The first time I put a hair claw on my hair, my dad was like, where'd you get that from? dead ass.
[00:49:02] Caullen: The store, bro?
[00:49:03] David: No. I grabbed it from my partner at that time. And I was like, this is blahblah’s, he said, well why are you wearing that? And I was like, cause my hair's a little long? I was growing it. So as we know when we are growing hair, this at the fifth, yada yada . But I had like, you feel what I'm saying? I'm getting checked on these type of things from my dad because of a fear, to me that I think, that he has about his offspring.
And it's, I believe it's internalized homophobia first and foremost. But then it goes into these level things like, oh, because people think you are a woman, you'll be less than what you are… this, that, and the fifth. And granted, hairstyle and jewelry are not clothing, but they definitely do fall into how we choose to identify and how we choose to portray ourselves as individuals.
I think it's so interesting, Hannah, that you mentioned sometimes it just takes these conversations… cause low key, if when I was 16 someone would've given me the green light, I would've got my ears pierced, grow my hair out, got tatted up. Everything I have now on my body coming to be a 30 year old, I would've had when I was 18. But I felt like, no, I can't let my dad down. I can't come in and be like, like motherfucker, you get. Like these real world- you're saying flaming sessions, you know what I'm saying? I didn't wear tight pants and I still don't really wear tight pants cause like, who is this guy right here? I just think of the flame sessions that are just, you know...
[00:50:36] Caullen: You have nightmares of flame sessions.
[00:50:37] David: We're rated R here at Bourbon 'n BrownTown, but I can't even quote my boys what they were saying cause I'm sure it was illegal in some countries.
I think it's just so wonderful to hear, and that we hope that these conversations. Cause I do think something that I have seen, and I see it in my younger brother. My brother's nine years old, my younger brother, and I see the way in which he chooses how he wants to identify himself. And that's largely based on what is on his chest- to your point, right?
I think one of the things… so we went to, I don't know where the fuck we were at, but he lives in Mexico and he's like, yo, I want something Chicago. And I was like, what does that mean? But he's like, no, like so I can wear it. And I'm like, well, do you want the Bulls? And he didn't understand really what that meant. So we talked a little about the Bulls. I showed him a couple Michael Jordan videos. He's like, yeah, let me take a sweater for the Bulls. And then all of a sudden became this icon of a bull, association to a city, association to a team, association to a person, associated to a type of person.
And so it's like he was happy as fuck that he went in Mexico and he rocks it all the time. Cause he's on a basketball team in Mexico and shit, so he’s doing his thing. But when he wears his Bulls shirt, he feels a different type of person. It takes him to a different type of pace.
And I do think it's wonderful because my brother has the opportunity to have me and my brother to kind of guide his ass. Cause he's also told me, he's like, I wanna grow my hair out. I was like, grow it! He's like, my dad doesn't let me. I was like, fuck what he said. He's like, no, but that's dad. I was like, no, no, fuck him. You wanna grow it out? Tell us? He's like, yeah, but you have really pretty hair. Like my brother would tell me, I'd be like, okay, cool.
[00:52:12] Caullen: One, thank you.
[00:52:13] David: He's like, but I don't want it that long. And so it's like, it's still like, how do I? And I love that you're coming in cause you can speak to education, which I'm referring to as academics. When we come from an academia background, these three syllable words aren't relatable to a nine year old.
[00:52:28] Hannah: Definitely.
[00:52:29] Caullen: “Neoliberalism!”
[00:52:32] David: It's a four syllable world, but I hear you. But you feel what I'm saying? So, I'm interested to hear, and as we move this conversation on how it is that the fashion industry has been moving to? And where people like yourselves who are ingrained in the day-in day-out of this hope to see it moving to? And where we can take fashion outside of its current borders and parameters?
And so I don't really know if that's a question necessarily for folks. But I think, you know, outside of we're understanding personal history in fashion, we're understanding where we understand or where we see this connection to this higher source. What happens then when we understand that, and how do we play into it?
How do we either feed Shein? I think that’s the most recently the thing I've seen. People like, oh my God, they have like blah, blah. I'm like, you know, I don't assume… the shirt is 3.99! What the fuck! But I think that's an important thing. And I’d love to hear your insight from having studied this to the way the world has been developing for the last three years in regards to that. Or what have been some of your experiences when talking to folks about fashion as revolutionary, but also fashion as like, what did you say? The daughter of capitalism? or no no no, you said?
[00:53:52] Hannah: Favorite child.
[00:53:53] David: Favorite child of capitalism.
[00:53:54] Caullen: Gender neutral. Capitalism respects the gender identity.
[00:53:58] Hannah: I don't know if it does, but…
[00:54:00] Caullen: Yeah, it definitely doesn't.
[00:54:02] Hannah: But okay, you've said so many juicy things that I wanna respond to.
[00:54:05] David: Whatever you want. Respond to all of them. Go ahead.
[00:54:08] Hannah: I wanna respond to a couple things you've said and then we can get into your question. But one, it's interesting, I think that- it's very normal- like it's common, it's not normal, but it's common that people are gendering things that don't have a gender, right? Your hair claw is a practical thing to get hair out of your face.
[00:54:26] David: Lovely. It also doesn't pull my hair out. Gets in my head longer.
[00:54:28] Hannah: Yeah, it's not creating tension, but it's keeping hair out of your face. Why have we gendered that inanimate object?
[00:54:36] David: Caullen taught me that, low key. I would start telling my dad, dad, that shirt doesn't have a gender. I love my dad, by the way.
[00:54:42] Hannah:. So my brother too, right? So many things I say go over his head, but then- or in one ear out the other maybe is a better way to say it.
[00:54:52] David: Cause he clearly hears, right?
[00:54:52] Hannah: Love him, he would agree with that. But one thing that he'll say randomly to my dad or something- my brother is very fashionable, I love the personal style he’s cultivated. He'll wear garments that aren't, you know, he'll shop in the “women's section” of stores. And my dad will point that out and one of the only things that I've said that my brother has caught onto is like, dad, you know, #### doesn't have a gender. And I love that. And it's so true.
[00:55:19] Caullen: Let's go, brother.
[00:55:22] Hannah: Shout out Sam.
[00:55:22] David: Shout out Sam. Let's go, bro. You're fucking up still, but clearly. But bro,
[00:55:27] Caullen: we're all figuring it out.
[00:55:31] Hannah: Affectionately.
[00:55:33] Caullen: Respectively.
[00:55:34] Hannah: But no, we've given these inanimate objects a binary in the same way we give ourselves a binary. And how do we start to unpack that?
There's a great speaker, writer, organizer, Alok Vaid-Menon who they are gender non-conforming and they talk at length about sort of the history of so many cultures around the world have not conformed to the way that Western white society has created a binary between man and woman. And how that binary is honestly very recent when you're looking at the greater scheme of history.
[00:56:18] Caullen: Yes, this shit is new, son.
[00:56:19] Hannah: And they're someone I've learned from a lot in that category. But they talk at length about how have inanimate objects that in a lot of other cultures don't have a gender, but when we're talking about them, like in Western, like in American culture.
Like skirts or dresses are gendered as feminine, when in a lot of other places it's very practical to have a skirt on in hot climates because it's like, you know, you can get more airflow through and you stay cooler that way. So yeah, I just wanted to respond to that when you were talking about that because I think that's a whole other conversation we could unpack also.
But… yeah, moving forward, kind of speaking to what you're talking about in terms of what the fashion industry is now with Shein. I also don’t know how to say it and I don't really care. That's disrespectfully. I don't care how it’s pronounced.
[00:57:16] Hannah: But I think we're seeing… I see a lot of hope. There are a lot of people having great conversations about what that means about the implications of fast fashion. And I think there's- but simultaneously there's a lot of people clearly still buying into it because it's only continuing to grow. It's 20 billion dollars already this year in profits. Where is that coming from? It's coming from people who could afford other options, like middle class, upper class people choosing Shein instead. And so what does that mean?
I think we can say and we can acknowledge that there is no ethical consumption under capitalism, and that's important to hold. But also that doesn't excuse us from doing our part. That doesn't excuse us from our complicity in the exploitation of other people, in the exploitation of the earth and the places that we live and call home. And so you know, I think it's important to hold those things in tension.
We're never going to be perfect, but we do need to recognize that once we know better, we need to do better in those spaces where we can. And it's a privilege to do better in all sorts of spaces. But I think when we're looking at solutions, capitalism in and of itself is unsustainable, so any solution that relies on that is not the right solution, right? The solutions we wanna look to are the ones that give us examples of what the world could be like in a system other than capitalism. In a system that relies on sustainability, community… I don't know, like supporting people within your community, ethical forms of production and consumption.
What does that system look like? How do we have solutions that point us to something greater versus ones that just, you know, get us by in the meantime? Long term versus short term. I'm rambling a little bit.
[00:59:18] Caullen: That's why we going to the Moon and exploiting that motherfucker. Moving on from there…
[00:59:21] David: …going to Mars.
[00:59:23] Caullen: No, no, that's big facts. And yeah, it's something I've always kind of known, but I feel like knowing you, it was gonna put me on a little more so, than just doing that extra kind of research, extra kind of digging as far as like, where does this come from and what, how, why is this so cheap or what have you? Or do I need this? Or Hey, does #### have something similar to it and I can get that from him and we can trade? What does the secondhand clothing look like? And I think, originally when I hear secondhand clothing, it's like, oh, when I'm a child, it's my brother's old stuff. But again, he wore tight Abercrombie stuff. I wanted big ass Ecko shirts. That didn't work. But like, no, we can share amongst our peers and things.
I remember I was going through clothes and stuff that I didn't wear that was still nice clothes, nice garments that I just didn't really wear anymore, and I was like, how should I get rid of this? I'm like, Hannah will know! Like, Hannah, what should I do? You know, big ass texts, multiple paragraphs of like, here are options. And first thing: give it to someone you know. I was like, ask David- he did want it. What else do I do? Had plenty of options of folks who have like. And we're in the Breathing Room campus, right? We're in the Breathing Room, like physically in the Breathing Room, and they have a clothing exchange. Free clothing exchange, folks come through, get what they need, leave what you can and all that. All those options. And knowing that ecosystem that I kind of knew existed, but like, oh, these are people I know, these are institutions and groups that I know. There are ways you can do that very easily.
[01:00:51] Hannah: I get asked that question so frequently I'm- by the time this episode is out, I have a graphic that I'm gonna post about what you should do with clothing, and the best options for where to put clothing you don't want anymore.
But that's a really good example of- I think the most sustainable option is usually one that subverts as much as possible the capitalist system. How can you give something to someone else without exchanging money for it? How can you just pass that along without profit? How can you exchange that with someone else for other clothes at like a clothing swap? How can you make sure it gets into the hands of someone who needs it without that person having to spend money or time or resources on it? I think is important.
And it's also, you know, the most sustainable thing you can wear is not the $200 ethically, sustainably produced garment, that's essentially a luxury good, it's what's already in your wardrobe. It's what you already have at your disposal. So when we're talking about sustainability it's a conversation that does exclude a lot of people because it's often about things that not everyone has the time or resources to commit to. Or the privilege to- you know, plus-sized people have it harder finding clothes in secondhand spaces. Have it harder finding clothes that fit them that are sustainably made. That's an important thing to hold intention in this conversation too. There are all sorts of aspects of our identity that could make it harder to engage in the most perfect example of sustainable living.
So how do we prioritize less perfection and more what steps can you take given the resources that you have? And also, at the end of the day, more than I care about whether or not you buy from Zara, there are ways to engage in sustainable movements, in pressuring political figures, in pressuring companies. That is honestly more valuable, time-wise, to spend doing those things than to spend making sure you have the money to shop at a more expensive, sustainable option.
[01:03:02] Caullen: I also think about language and stuff. When we talk about fashion brands marketing towards “plus-sized people”, which I've actually seen before. I'm like, no, these are people, y'all were doing this- y'all were just catering to how you think of an ideal person should look, and be, and be sized. And like, you know, I don't know… a whole bunch of women's sizes of various garments but I know it's weird and kind of fucked up. And so it's just funny how like…
[01:03:34] David: Y'all don't have real pockets. That's the struggle.
[01:03:36] Caullen: There's no pockets. There's just starting to be. And it's like, this is fun, buy this! You're like, I want to, but also like, y'all should’ve always had this. Like, I'm not plus-sized, I'm actually normal. Y'all are marking to a certain demographic, right? And so it's like, how do you use language as far as like, “plus” from what? I'm normal, you know, our bodies are normal. Gonna have to pay more for a double XL, whatever, when it's like, I'm paying more to be a certain body type? That doesn't make sense.
[01:03:59] Hannah: The average woman's size in the US is a size 16.
[01:04:02] Caullen: Let's fucking go! 16, baby!
[01:04:03] Hannah: I mean it's all arbitrary. But if we're speaking, you know, a size 16 is a plus size, that's the average size in the US. But so many companies still don't cater that. In Chicago, there's only seven concrete brick and mortar stores that cater to plus-sized women's clothing.
As an industry, that's like a big- as someone who works at a shop that has a like from size double zero all the way to size-
[01:04:28] Caullen: double zero? Why are there two??
[01:04:30] Hannah: all the way to size, like 28+. We carry a wide range of sizes. That's something I'm very passionate about. There are not a lot of spaces for plus-sized people- especially women, especially gender non-conforming people to shop in; both in-person but also online.
[01:04:51] Caullen: That is necessary because what has been normalized is a certain body type.
[01:04:57] Hannah: That's…. and it's a-
[01:04:59] Caullen: it's like literally untrue, right?
[01:05:00] David: It's unrealistic. It's not even a human body.
[01:05:03] Caullen: by the numbers, it's untrue. And also like, it's not a realistic, it's It's making you conform to-
[01:05:08] Hannah: and it's, the root of that… if we're going back historically is colonialism, is very much a Eurocentric idea of what beauty is. Which is not something that a lot of cultures held prior to being colonized. Prior to European imperialism there was a broad spectrum of what beauty was; with body hair, with different sized bodies, with plus-sized bodies, all sorts of things, with gender variance that wasn't just man and woman. But yeah, that kind of, again, is a very recent development in the grand scheme of history from colonialism, from Western imperialism.
[01:05:50] David: No. And I would argue that we still see that to this day, I think.
[01:05:53] Hannah: Oh, definitely.
[01:05:54] David: As another example, and I'll bring in my little brother, cause he doesn't have a say. But like, it was crazy cause- I don't know what we were doing- and I gave him one of my t-shirts and he's like, I don't like this cause it makes my skin look darker. And I was like, what do you mean? He's like, no, I want my skin like dads. My dad is a very light-complected human being. And so I was like, well what do you mean, yours is fine. He’s like, no, I don't like my skin, I want it to look like dads. And that was based off of something that he had put on that he deemed then, as a nine year old, granted, made his skin look darker. And so, I don't know. I think it's like, the system is doing its job well. Whether that is through sizing us as our body types, or our color palettes, et cetera, cetera, et cetera.
Whether that's like, you know- cause and I do know, and like, when my dad was making these- what started the chain was my dad being like, yo, this is gonna make you look like a female, in his eyes. The repercussions were what he stated. A lot of the beings who I was with, they're like, oh, nice hair. They would make comments and flame sessions, as we mentioned, that go beyond the middle school lunch table that are real world things. However, it's like, you know David, 10 toes all down, it doesn't as much as someone else who maybe he's not as outspoken as I am, but the repercussions are still the same. You're having to deal with this. You're having to then judge your own self based off of other people's ideologies, off of other people's standards of how you are or are not.
And so with my little brother, when I was looking at him, bro, I'm not gonna lie to you, I almost started crying. And I was like, what do you mean? You feel like your skin is darker in this thing, that's fine, you're #### as fuck. And he's like, no, but like, why does dad have? And so I was like, how do I talk to a eight year old about the way his skin looks on a t-shirt? On someone who, mind you, he's like, we're not Black, but we're Brown. He lives also in Mexico, so he has a toasty tan Brown. My man is like clearly crispy Brown, you know what I'm saying? There's no way about it. There's no way we can go around how Brown he is.
And granted, the way I tried to talk about it is like, well, 1)…
[01:08:06] Caullen: yeah, what did you do?
[01:08:07] David: Well, the way I mentioned it was like, my dad is incredibly light-skinned, but my mom and all of her family's incredibly dark-skinned. That's where we got all of our melanin from, if I'm being a hundred. Cause my dad and my grandma are incredibly light. That's where we got the Irish, the #### from. So it's like, whatever. But you don't know this, as I'm growing up, and so I'm trying to talk to my little brother about this and I'm like, okay, this shirt that you're talking about, you said makes you look darker- because granted, it was a white shirt on his skin. He had been out all summer, this, that, the fifth. And so to me what I told him I was like, oh cool, you don't like this shirt? Let's get you something different, but your skin is your skin. I'm like, you have to love it. He's like, no, but why can't I have dad's skin? And I was like, you do have dad’s skin.You have dad's skin and some.
[01:08:51] Caullen: cause you’re not an oppressor.
[01:08:52] David: this shit’s gonna make you live for more. No, no. And what I told him was this. I was like, you know what this does right here? This melanin, it protects us from the sun. The fact, you know, dad gets red, that skin peels, your skin doesn't do that. Why? And he's like, okay.
But even then, to a nine year old, right, we're talking about academia, we're talking about how we engage the younger generations and all of these concepts. Cause I do feel that the language of gendered clothing is in the past. I would probably argue. And even within my own people. Like, as a dad, my dad knows what's up. Like, he's understanding things, and I think there are other figures within our culture that have done that, and that have pushed boundaries. Whether that's in the music scene, in the film scene that have pushed the boundaries of what clothing represents on an individual.
And so we wanna say that we've developed and advanced as a society and that, but in other terms, in other spaces, I think it's difficult. To your point Caullen, like what'd I tell my brother? Kind of what told him, and I didn't feel satisfied with my answer. And he's nine years old so he's gonna be like, cool. So he put on his red shirt instead. And he liked that better than the white shirt. And he went with that.
And the fact that my brother named something as a nine year old on the fact that the way it contrasts his skin, I think names that regardless on how much we wanna say it doesn't matter what you wear. It clearly does matter what we wear. And it clearly matters how we want to represent and identify as individuals. But then I also think there's a power in that that I didn't know existed. And looking krispy as fuck. And we use the term krispy- it's not even feeling good because I remember the whole thing was like, and Caullen, you mentioned this, right? And I remember this in high school being like, dress to impress. You want a job? You want to go in with a suit, this that the fifth, dress to impress. That's what I would hear constantly “dress to impress.” And my thing was like, impress who? I don't want this fucking job at Target. The fuck. Like, you know what I'm saying? But that's what our generation was raised on. Also, we were raised on DARE. So like, let's really hold up-
[01:10:52] Caullen: Fuck you Daryl Gates.
[01:10:55] David: And abstinence. If we're being like, let's hold it to the standard that it is. But it's like, I do think there is a wonderful distinction that we are making in our generation moving forward, and that's when you're bringing in this term of shopping. Because to your point, I think I would mention- also the only reason why I know Shein is because a bunch of my homies, predominantly women, shop through there, because it is the cheapest place they can find stuff. It's not cause they got money, it's cause we all broke, and that's the cheapest place they can find something.
I think some of this is access, based on what we have. Another issue is like, we've talked about it, it's been rapped about a hundred times, the fact that Jordan's are 150 bucks and motherfuckers will fight each other for Jordan's. I think Caullen mentioned it, it’s the status of a thing. There's Jordan, there's the Bulls, there's Air Force, there's…- so it's like fucking layered as shit to the fact of Air Forces. But even then to this day, I had my shoes, my girl stepped on my shoes. I'm like, girl, what you mean?!?!? What’d you do with it?!
[01:12:03] Caullen: Broke up right there!
[01:12:04] David: And it was more- but it was also like, they're also understanding where it's coming from. So it's like, I think it's still so real world, right? And so how do we as individuals try to mesh through the mesh? You know what I'm saying? Without, you know, (Caullen giggling) Can I say anything else?
[01:12:21] Caullen: I'm dead!
[01:12:22] David: I know nothing different.
[01:12:24] Caullen: Get out! Get out. We’re done, we’re done!
[01:12:26] David: I might, I might.
[01:12:28] Caullen: Icy whites, girl! They were icy white! Fuck you talkin bout.
[01:12:31] David: but they bought them, so like, I bought them. I’m like, bitch, you gonna buy other ones??! I don’t know what else to say.
[01:12:36] Caullen: Damn. The call’s coming from inside the house.
[01:12:38] David: I'm so sorry. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Names are not named, but alas.
[01:12:43] Hannah: No, I'm glad you brought that up about Shein though, cause I think it's important. A lot of the conversation when people are like, okay, don't shop there, we know it's bad, we know that Shein clothes often contain toxic amounts of lead… which on top of, you know, worker exploitation, it could also harm you as an individual wearing them. But often there's the conversation in response is, okay, for some people that is their only option. It is a very cheap option.
[01:13:15] David: Or not their only option,
[01:13:17] Hannah: but it's one of…
[01:13:18] Caullen: but for some folks, it is.
[01:13:19] David: Yeah, true.
[01:13:20] Hannah: But then my response to that is the people who, their only option is Shein or their only option is some of those fast fashion brands are not what's making Shein 20 billion dollars a year. That is middle to upper class individuals with money to spend elsewhere who are doing Shein hauls that are thousands of dollars.
[01:13:42] David: I was gonna ask. Okay. Okay. Okay. I hear that.
[01:13:45] Hannah: I never wanna shame anybody for their choices.
[01:13:48] David: No, we're not shaming.
[01:13:49] Hannah: But, the reason that they are making billions upon billions of dollars is not because there are working class people who don't have a lot of options for shopping. Because it's the people spending thousands of dollars creating YouTube videos with Shein hauls with 30 pieces that they wear once and then throw away. That's what the issue is. So my conversation is always more pointed at those individuals who know who they are, largely; versus people who truly- those people who are affording what they can and buying what they can are not the people who are creating the fast fashion industry as it exists and allowing it to thrive the way that it is. So yeah, I just wanted to name that also.
[01:14:36] David: No, but I think it's important for our listeners, right? Cause I'm responding to you as someone who- I don't shop at Shein, but like. Small example, I'm looking for something, I was like, I need this, this is what I want. I can't find it. I can't find it. The only place they found it was Shein. It's like, oh, I got 10 bucks. Oh, it's 8.99. Everywhere else is 25. Fuck it, I gotta buy it here. You know what I'm saying? And I do think it's important then to help other folks understand. Because once again, we're not trying to like shame motherfuckers for what they're doing now. Granted, we will shame some folks. I'm not, we're not-
[01:15:10] Hannah: Definitely.
[01:15:11] David: But I do think to our average listener, I think it's important for them to understand that it is, once again, I say this all the time, it is- get in where you fit in, right? And when the whole Shein debacle happened, I spoke to the two, three people who I knew for a fact and I was like, yo, y'all seen this? And one of them was like, yeah, I've known this. And I was like, then why have you been shopping there? And they were like, well, where else I'm gonna find my shit for 8.99 or what? Same topic.
[01:15:40] Caullen: Here's my Venmo and Zelle and Cash app. What you got? Oh nothing? Yeah, I didn’t think so.
[01:15:42] David: I was like, I hear you. But what I did ask, and this comes with the territory, and I was like, well, what are we doing to be better? And their whole thing was like, well, I also thrift. So here I do think it's important for folks who are listening to understand it's not about shaming, it's not about like, if you're getting those easy slides,
[01:16:03] Caullen: They're ugly, bro.
[01:16:05] Hannah: Caullen shaming a little bit.
[01:16:07] Caullen: They’re ugly! They’re just ugly… Okay, sorry.
[01:16:09] David: But just as long as you also understand what is carrying with that. Like Kanye West, an individual, we're not trying to sit on him for too long. But in the world of fashion, my boy thinks he's making the biggest waves. Motherfucker thinks he's what? The Da Vinci or whatever the fuck he's saying. In regards to lines that are in regards to fashion. I'm not a fashion head.
[01:16:29] Caullen: Clearly. I’m just kidding, that’s literally my shirt.
[01:16:31] David: I don't think he's making waves. But Hannah, to you and Caullen, I'm curious to hear your thoughts on not the Kanye debacle, but folks that then come in, into the system that has already been playing for hundreds of years and think they can come in and put it top, turn it on its head. That's what I thought Kanye was trying to do. And they clearly don't. It's like, where is it? Because the biggest thing, once again, I sent her this when Yeezy was coming out with clothing- was like, you're not gonna support Yeezy, bro? You love Kanye, bro, what do you mean you're not gonna support Kanye? And it was all about supporting this person who we liked their music because they were trying to do clothing. And this is what, 2011, before Yeezus. Cause he had started dropping merch- Graduation, I remember the teddy bear being on shit.
[01:17:14] Caullen: It's so interesting. When folks are like, you're not gonna support this person who already makes millions of dollars off of us listening to them.
[01:17:21] David: But that's not what they're saying. That's not what they're hearing.
[01:17:23] Caullen: I understand what they're saying. Cause I had friends who mentioned that stuff too, about people who we have never met, who are making lots of money. I'm like, they're going to be fine!
[01:17:34] Hannah: They don't need me.
[01:17:37] Caullen: I'm making shirts up in my crib by ironing on t-shirts. Y'all want one of those? Whatever you want, I will make it.
[01:17:42] David: Yeah, but yours is too expensive, Caullen. Yours is like, 25 to the 20. Come on.
[01:17:47] Caullen: It's not even a Kanye thing. I'm just like, what? Like support Kanye? He's going be good.
[01:17:50] Hannah: Well, yeah, the issue is that we've created a system where a good majority of people, their only option isn't an option that exploits other people. So how do we… yeah, the problem is the system that exists in a way in which there are people whose only option is to pick something that's exploiting people in countries where they do not live, in the Global South. And so, it's more important to me that we're examining that system as a whole versus the individual who has to make that choice. How did we end up in a system in which, like, a large demographic of people think that a t-shirt should cost $5 or less, and anything more than that is unacceptable.
That's a disconnection, that's a dehumanization, an alienation of what it actually takes to make a t-shirt. Or what it takes to make a sweater or something like that. So many garments, we still don't have technology intelligent enough to make. So everything that you're wearing is likely made by hand.
[01:19:04] Caullen: That seems wild to me. We can go to the fucking Moon. We got penis rockets going everywhere. We can't make a fucking t-shirt, bro?
[01:19:10] Hannah: But that's because it's so complex.
[01:19:12] David: You gotta focus on drones, homie. The fuck. You gotta put the dollars on those bombs that sneak up at night.
[01:19:16] Caullen: Stop it.
[01:19:18] Hannah: But it's, you know, we also- no one's forcing anyone to make innovations because there's so much exploited labor. You know? No, that scene is okay.
[01:19:29] Caullen: That's a bar, right there.
[01:19:30] David: I do have a question, Hannah.
[01:19:33] Hannah: Yes.
[01:19:34] David: Just, for our listeners here, including David, when we're talking about a system like fashion, right? And you're talking about, “but be yourself” and like, “do your thing,” if I'm a listener, I'm like, well, how? What could be your first step?
And I know you mentioned the clothes we have in our wardrobe, et cetera, but for anyone who is a fashionista such as yourself, what would you consider to be the first steps or the things that you would encourage folks to, if you really want to tackle this behemoth of a thing, what would you encourage? Or what would you point to?
[01:20:16] Hannah: I think the first thing is to examine your own understanding of what it takes to make a garment. As someone-
[01:20:26] David: So I don't know how to sew, so, I’m fucked.
[01:20:27] Hannah: As someone who only recently learned how to sew and how fucking hard it is to make something super simple, to me that was like, oh, these people making our clothes in all of these countries, largely in the Global South, largely women of color, making our clothes for next to no wages, this is an art form. This is a craft. This is really fucking hard to do. Especially at the rate in which they are expected to do it. So I think a lot of the first steps are mindset shifts. Shifts within ourselves of like, this is not something that's easy to do. This is an art form and a craft.
And that's why when you get a garment from a maker who- like, I have friends, I have people I follow on Instagram who make garments themselves and sell them very small businesses individuals, their garments are a couple hundred dollars and that seems wild. But it's like, no, that's actually the care that should go into a garment that will last you a long time.
So I think a lot of it is just coming back to the humanization of- the garments that we're wearing now were touched by hands in those countries, in those factories that were being exploited. They fastened the buttons on your top, they sewed in the zipper on your pants. And so when we're looking at garments that are $5, you need to think about how is it possible that that garment is that cheap when it was so complex to make? And the answer is that someone's not getting paid. The answer is that the construction and the quality of that garment is not going to last you the amount of time that a garment should last. And so I think it's about prioritizing that. And I understand that not everyone can, but I think having that mindset shifts how we decide to spend our money.
And a statistic that I come back to a lot, I'm not gonna get it perfect, but, 50 or a hundred years ago, people were actually spending a larger proportion of their annual income on clothing than we do now. But they were buying significantly fewer garments. You would buy- as a woman living a hundred years ago, I would buy a dress that would be my event, like more formal dress that would last me a long time. And there's a lot of things that are fucked up about that time period. I'm not claiming to like,
[01:22:55] David: yeah, yeah.
[01:22:56] Hannah: But there's something to that of like, we should be cherishing garments in that way. I should be willing to spend a quarter of my annual income-- No, that's maybe a little wild, but you know what I mean, you know what I'm getting at-- like on a dress that I know will last me a really long time. And if I love it and if I feel good in it, there should be no shame in re-wearing that. But I think also social media and sort of the consumption mindset of capitalism comes in there where we have this idea that things- like, oh, if someone's already seen me in this, I shouldn't be able to wear it again. Like, I've worn this once to this event, I posted it on my Instagram, I can't ever wear it to an event where someone will take my photo ever again.
[01:23:35] Caullen: God forbid.
[01:22:36] Hannah: Right? That's ingrained in us.
[01:23:38] Caullen: That's so weird.
[01:23:40] Hannah: I love the idea that we could get back to a place where we're buying-- we're investing in a garment. That's been my mindset shift, is I'm not spending less money on clothing and I have the privilege of having some- a little bit of disposable income, I'm still an hourly retail worker, but I have a little bit of disposable income. And I'm not spending any less on clothing, but I'm buying one special piece that I know I'll wear weekly, and I don't have shame in that. I wear the dress that I'm wearing now constantly, cause I love it and I love the color and fit of it and it's comfortable. And I say that proudly. I'm okay with people seeing me in it often, cause I like how I look in it. So how do we kind of shift our mindset, I think is the most important part. And I say that also because it's the most accessible part. I don't wanna give options that require a lot of money investment, but we should be looking for clothing that we want to wear for years.
And then what comes with that is also understanding how to take care of the clothes in our wardrobe. And understanding that that is also an investment. Like actually reading how the launder suggestions on the label in your shirt. If your shirt says “Hand Wash, Do Not Put In The Washer,” don't fucking put it in the washer. Hand wash that shit. It takes longer but it will last you longer. Also, if something says “Dry Clean Only,” do not wash it. It sounds kind of silly and it sounds maybe, I don't know, like it sounds maybe easy to understand, but that's something I had to learn also. Like, oh, I actually need to read that label cause it matters, cause shit will shrink. Or shit will get ruined.
And a lot of times you don't need to dry anything. Don't dry your clothes. Dryers ruin clothes so fast. Air dry as much as you can. There's things like that, with like any leather goods, making sure you have conditioner and waterproofer and things like that to make your leather goods last is really important. So how can we shift our mindset and think of clothes as an investment, and then how do we prolong that investment? I think is the most important thing. Yeah, I would say it's more mindset shift than anything else. And just understanding what a garment has and by the time it gets to you, that's not-- it's already been touched by so many other hands.
[01:26:08] Caullen: Right. How I started washing my own clothes was because in middle school when white tees were just what you wore, shout out Dem Franchize Boyz. My white
[01:26:22] (excerpt from White Tee by Dem Franchize Boyz)
[01:26:25] Caullen: JC Penneys in Columbia, Missouri; white Stafford t-shirts, you got double XL. How big are you? Doesn't matter. You get double XL. How old are you? Doesn't matter. You get double XL, Stafford tee, at JC Penney. That’s just what you wore. And you wore two at a time. Why? I don't know.
[01:26:45] Hannah: Like layered? Like two, one on top of the other?
[01:26:48] Caullen: We wore two at a time. It’s May in Columbia, Missouri, in the Midwest, it's hot. You wore two at a time.
[01:26:55] Hannah: Okay.
[01:26:56] Caullen: You just wore two. I don't know why we all, we just wore two. God forbid you, it would shrink. You wanted it to be past your elbow, so when you’d bend your elbow…. like, that's… you, of course that was normal.
[01:27:07] Hannah: It's a three-quarter sleeve.
[01:27:08] Caullen: Exactly. It was on our tiny bodies. And so, when my mom- I think she washed some of my clothes as a child, and it shrank a little bit. I was like, fuck mom, you can't wash in the hot water, and dry it. She's like, what, okay? And so I would start washing my Stafford tees in cold water and hang dry them. And then I started learning how to just do laundry in general. Cause I didn't want my shirts to shrink cause you couldn't have a small shirt as an 18 year old Black boy in Columbia, Missouri. You couldn't do that. Whereas now our shirts are fucking small as hell. It's funny how that changes. But I just thought about that as far as taking care of clothes and that was my entry into doing my own laundry. I was like, what, 13, 12, however old you are. So I, yeah, taking care of your clothes, repurposing your clothes.
I look at my previous pictures of me doing fitness stuff and having a Nike tank top that I would find in a way that I could pay for, but now I'm like, okay, this old shirt I’m never wearing again that has a cool saying on it, I'll just cut it in a crop top and I'll wear that to work out in. And it’s cotton, but it breathes well and I'll wear that, and that feels great. And that's all I wear now. So it's funny how things change. Going back to our original conversation, how things change over time and how we kinda go back to our roots in a lot of ways.
[01:28:28] David: Hannah, you mentioned this could be, there are so many specific points that we can take to and continue the conversation that is fashion. And we hope that all of our listeners engage with this. Not only in thinking about where you find yourself in regards to fashion or what you put on your body, but to the larger pivotal movement, if that's also where you find yourself. Because I do think there's a distinction between talking to somebody who loves fashion and somebody who loves fashion who's part of the revolution. You feel what I'm saying? Because I think when you talking to that individual, it's a little easier. That's where I would currently find myself. I'm all about- I rock my No Cop hoodies if I know I'm going to court or something stupid or whatever, I'll purposely put my Defund The Police shirt. I'll purposely put on my NoCA.
And it's funny cause I've had friends and family be like, you sure you wanna wear that? Like, what do you mean? Fuck yeah, I wanna wear this!
[01:29:25] Caullen: That’s why I bought this shirt.
[01:29:26] David: No, deadass. Like, certain of these, organizing swag, or activist swag, because I know it's going to create dialogue. I know it's going to create conversation. And so, for those of us that are still learning that and adapting to it, like, there's still power in it. And I think, Hannah, I really appreciate your answer because I think it encompasses folks from all spaces. And granted, I learned in this conversation that Shein doesn't make the money off my people just cause that's all they buy. It's really off of the people who have the decision to what they buy.
[01:30:00] Hannah: Definitely.
[01:30:01] David: And then continue to do so. But then on the other hand, something I sit with is, you mentioned like, if we're gonna pay a hundred dollars for a tee, we should buy that because that's what's respectful to the craft and whatever. I sit with like, my people don't have a hundred dollars to spend on that t-shirt, so we probably wouldn't buy that t-shirt. But then I also sit with what you were talking about, if we look back to our even roots, we used to trade shit. That used to be like one of the biggest forms of commerce before dollars. So you know, you have a really pretty dress, listen, I make these badass cakes, I'm gonna give you a cake for one of them dresses. And you be like,
[01:30:33] Hannah: definitely
[01:30:34] David: Deadass! But we're removed from that. Why? Because we have to believe that the dollar or that gold is the most valuable thing. When it sits, there is no value in any of these things. And so it's like, I just want to center that for some of my listeners who are here being like, it doesn't matter, blah, blah-- No, no. Fuck you. It does. We get to decide these things and that's where, you know, now moving forward, like when we share stuff, right? I know.
I'll center this, and this is to really just gas up Soapbox. But I've had so many people who have asked, yo, where the fuck is that sweater from? Shout out Demand Justice. Y'all have this badass sweater, the color, where can I get one? It was a limited edition from a couple years ago. We didn't really know, boy did it. And it grew in popularity and folks still to this day ask, yo, how can I get it? Yo, how can I get it? And so to me it sits with like, this is why fashion is important. This is why branding is important. This is why what we wear on our body is important. Because people-- if I'm hearing from my colleagues and homies that they wanna be a part of this and they feel by wearing a sweater that has a Soapbox swag on top of it, makes them feel a part of, it makes them feel part of the revolution. As an example that Soapbox, you know, I'm not saying that Soapbox speaks revolution, but a part of it is, I think there's no way for folks to be like, no, fashion doesn't matter. That's the example I give them to be like, this is the power that the shit that you are wearing holds.
Because it's so funny, and I'll end it with this and I'll pass it off to one of y'all. But one of my closest friends, he's like, yo man, I wear-- he has the #### fuck… #### shirt. It's like a smaller shirt, no sleeves type shit. He's like, yo, I wear your shirt when I play pool. That's my boy, he's my brother. And I was like, cool, bro. I'm like, what happens when you talk to them? He's like, I don't really know, what do you want me to tell them? I was like, what do you mean? You've been having people come up to you, talk to you about your shit and you don’t know how to say shit? He's like, yeah, well, I didn't know it was gonna have that much of an impact. I don't think he said “impact”, but I think he mentioned he wasn't aware of the type of people who were gonna approach him. And it's predominantly Black folk who approach him-
[01:32:51] Caullen: Cause it’s in the Black liberation colors.
[01:32:52] David: because in the Demand Justice is in Black liberation colors. My boy didn't know this. My dad didn't know this. I remember my dad telling me, he’s like, I got approached by like four people in the airport and they were asking me what does Soapbox represent? And he didn't know how to answer that. But it sits, too, for the people who are on the side of my space, whereas like fashion doesn't fucking matter. It clearly does. And Hannah, all the work that you've been doing, all the work that you continue doing manifests to that? I think one of the places that I learned about more the concept of thrift, or even beyond that is through Task Force.
Task Force is an organization on the West Side that focuses on LGBTQ youth, specifically. And they have a whole wardrobe, they have a room dedicated to be what they refer to as a closet. And this is for people who are oftentimes finding themselves, and they pick up an article of clothing that helps them define how- contrary to what society's telling them- they are. And so I think that's such a powerful example of a lot of these spaces when we're speaking to our gender non-conforming or to our trans communities on where clothing doesn't fucking matter- I'm like, what you put on your body based on what other people are telling you. Which is that I think is a paradox, right? Cause I'm like, I'm trying to wear this shit cause it doesn't matter. But then they're like, no, I'm wearing this cause I identify as this person. And so it's like, there's levels to this shit. And we’ll continue talking about it. But go ahead.
[01:34:23] Hannah: Definitely. No, you've touched on some great things. I think I wanna respond to you saying that you wear No Cop Academy stuff in the courtroom because I think there is something about clothing where you can have a message on your body that you wouldn't be able to say out loud, right? If you were to act on that, if you were to say that out loud in that space, there could be consequences. But if you have just the message passively on you, there's so much symbolism in what we wear that sometimes wearing it is our only option, right? We don't-
[01:34:58] David: We're gonna quote you.
[01:35:02] Hannah: We can't always speak it, we can't always act on it in spaces we're in, but we can wear it and we can still embody our beliefs in that moment in a way that we can't be persecuted for if we were to say them out loud. And so that's- when we're looking at historical movements from the past, a lot of times that's what it was. It was like, how can I say this in this moment without actually saying it? Cause if I said it out loud, I could be persecuted, I could be arrested, I could be silenced in however many number of ways. But if I just have it on my body, or if I have something on my body that represents that, the chances of being persecuted are slightly minimized. Maybe not zero, right? We've seen like, wearing something can cause you harm if it symbolizes something. But you know, the symbolism of that can be a, I don't wanna say passive cause it's not, but a more subtle form of resistance. And that's just again, goes to show the power of what we wear. We don't have to say it out loud for it to hold meaning, or for our beliefs to be understood by people perceiving us.
[01:36:17] David: No- Hannah, once again, I definitely think you're bringing up things that for our folks, we want them not only to listen, but to engage with. And I think there's a distinction between speaking about shit, reflecting on shit, and then acting on shit, right? Because how easy is it, to your point, how is it that we can continue to engage our demographic of human beings who wanna swag but also give a fuck about the environment, right? Not only the environment, but people, et cetera. And I think we're hoping, in my experience, people are kind of becoming more aware. And we hope that folks continue to go on that vein. But you know, the work continues.
And so I did want to give you an opportunity to- is there anyone you want to shout out? Anyone you want to give folks pointers to where they should be able to go to? Let me know.
[01:37:15] Hannah: I mean, there's a list of people that have shaped my own understanding of fashion now.
Hoda Katebi, Aja Barber, Alok VMenon. There's a great account called The Slow Factory, which deals a lot with sustainability and politics. The Zay Initiative is a great non-westernized collection of dress and fashion history, which I think is really important. And there's so much more we could have dived into with fashion history, specifically.
But yeah, there's- fashion history is often very Euro-Western-white-Centric, so any place that is moving outside of that I'm very thankful for. So yeah, the Zay Initiative is one account of that. And yeah, those are some of the people I would highly recommend following.
Clotheshorse podcast is a great, if you're like, wow, this touched on some things that I have a lot more questions about, Clotheshorse dives very in-depth into sustainability, into what the fashion industry is and how it works and stuff like that. So would recommend all those places. And yeah. That's what I would recommend.
[01:38:34] Caullen: revolutionarydress.com. Check it out.
[01:38:38] Hannah: Yeah, if you're like, wait, you have alluded to history, but you haven't really talked about any movement specifically, which we didn't get to, I have- my work did revolve around like, specific movements that I kind of unpack. Civil rights movement, Black Panthers, the punk movement in London, plus a lot more. There's a lot of history to unpack there. You can do that more at revolutionarydress.com. Maybe follow @revolutionarydress on Instagram. There's nothing there currently.
[01:39:06] Caullen: Ain’t no “maybe”, follow that motherfucker.
[01:39:08] Hannah: but if you follow me, maybe content will be there eventually.
[01:39:13] David: That's it.
[01:39:15] Caullen: I wasn't the first, but I think I followed, Soapbox followed, BnB followed today.
[01:39:19] Hannah: Did you really?
[01:39:20] Caullen: Yeah.
[01:39:21] Hannah: Wow. Okay. You’re my first followers.
[01:39:23] Caullen: There’s at least 3! Run the numbers, son. Run the numbers.
[01:39:27] Hannah: Three whole followers.
[01:39:29] David: But Hannah, to your point, there's definitely more conversation. We're very excited. Maybe we bring you back for that 2.0. You know what I'm saying? But
[01:39:36] Hannah: I'm ready.
[01:39:37] David: Once again, definitely thank you for being with us. I think this is such a wonderful conversation. Thank you for sharing your personal experiences, but also hopefully educating some of ya motherfuckers.
[01:39:48] Caullen: We love you. Don't let David talk down to you.
[01:39:51] David: You were over here yelling on the episode.
[01:39:52] Caullen: I do yell at motherfuckers all the time. You're actually the more soft one. I'm just like, Nahhhh! Follow us!
[01:39:58] David: I’m trying to be. But deadass, all of everything will be on the episode notes. So definitely for free to engage. And as always, from Bourbon ‘n BrownTown, stay Black, stay Brown, stay queer.
[01:40:07] Caullen: Stay tuned, stay turnt.
[01:40:08] David: And we going to see you next time.
(Music "Wu Wear: The Garment Renaissance" by the RZA ft. Method Man & Cappadonna)