Turning Discarded American Clothes into Gorgeous Haitian Garments

May 17, 2012

What should we do with all our leftover textiles and clothing?
Credit Joost Nelissen/Flickr

We don’t often give a lot of thought to our clothes or where they come from.

Even though textile production was once a huge industry in the United States, try finding “Made in America” clothing nowadays and you’ll find it’s pretty difficult. Most of our clothes are made overseas – and often return there when we discard them.

It’s a cycle of globalization – one our "It's a Material World" correspondent got a lesson in during a major conference on Material Culture. As students and scholars from around the world came together to examine the life of objects and the role they play in our lives, Gianofer Fields took a closer look at the objects she was wearing – with a little help from Los Angeles-based textile worker Carol Frances Lung. She runs the project Made in Haiti and is also an associate professor of art at California State University in Los Angeles.

Associate professor of art at California State University in Los Angeles, Carol Frances Lung
Credit Gianofer Fields

Our correspondent Fields studies material culture at UW-Madison. She produces and curates the series, "It's A Material World," which is funded by the Chipstone Foundation, a decorative arts foundation whose mission is preserving and interpreting their collection, as well as stimulating research and education in the decorative arts.

The song you are hearing is by the band Haitian Troubadours, called "G" from the LP Komba Legends Volume 1.