For this week’s class discussion, we were asked to think about an item that plays an impactful role in our daily lives in context of the greater networks that it is a part of. For this I decided to look at my winter jacket, and the various networks that it’s production played into, as well as the networks that it becomes part of through its use.
My jacket is from roots, a Canadian brand that represents itself as the epitome of Canadian clothing production. However, upon a quick read of its tag I have learned that it was actually made in China. No big surprise here, however this overseas production puts it into a network of travel, sweat shop labour, and production exploitation. Its cross continental travel makes it a consumer of fossil fuels, and a contributor to global warming. It also contains sustainably sourced and “humanely” collected down feathers. The buzzwords suggest something that may be questionable, but it still puts this jacket into a network of livestock. This industry again is likely to contributed to a growing ecological footprint.
Looking to its actual use, my winter jacket functions to keep me out of networks of sickness and health systems (to the best of its ability). Winter provides a whole new level of health networks that can be combated with a good winter jacket. My jacket also plays into my overall mobility. I am able to remain in the network of walkers becomes my jacket allows me to withstand the harsher temperatures of winter. Without my jacket, I would be likely to join the network of bus riders.
Although it may seem a little odd to attribute so much to one article of clothing, when looking at something as mundane as a winter jacket in the scheme of a web, it is easy to see its various network connections, and, as Winner would say, its inherent political power. In terms of production, the jacket facilitates politics through its environmental impact, as well as its contribution to poor labour conditions.
In terms of its use, winter jackets hold inherent political meaning when looked at through the greater context of social class divisions. Who can afford a winter jacket, and who cannot. A winter jacket is political, but we often neglect to see it as such because its politics do not directly affect us.
The picture above, as well as my feature photo are from a social campaign directed at reminding individuals of the ramifications of poverty. These individuals are put into a situation in which a young child is sitting in a bus shelter without a jacket. We often forget that clothing items like winter jackets are in fact a privilege in which many individuals are unable to obtain.