Sunday, April 18, 2010

Who Uses this Research Archive?

The material archived here is available to both the general public as well as private and corporate institutions. Visitors to this virtual library come from a wide spectrum and include some of the world's most high profile organizations such as; Polo Ralph Lauren, Diesel, Levis, LVMH, VF Corp, Saatch and Saatchi, and others. This obviously begs the question... -If the guild did not exist, why are so many important people so interested?

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Tinker, Tailor... Beggar-Man, Thief

After some time focused on other aspects of garment-research, the MGRT Research Group was forwarded a link to a wardrobing exercise with some hints of the Guild's dogma.


While not completely forgoing commercial concerns (the exercise links to the branded site; DENHAM), it does represent a practical contemporary take on some of the dogma's precepts. Logos are sometimes removed, garments are modified with a degree of brutality associated with the Guild's own attitude, and vintage articles (possibly originally crafted by Guildsmen) are shown particular favor mixed used alongside modern components.

We at the Militant Guild of Rural Tailors Research Group are not sure we approve, but there's some charm in seeing an attempt to adopt some of the Standards & Ethics into a real-world user-based application.

A Militant Guild of Rural Cordwainers?

The Research Group has limited resources to investigate the possible fraternal connection between the Militant Guild of Rural Tailors and any similar union set-up to protect and advance the cordwainers' arts from the same threats faced by tailors.

But while extensive space cannot be granted to that undertaking here within the groups' dedicated research archive, recent developments in the contemporary market give the group pause. Indeed there maybe sufficient rationale to extend the group's brief into this field of study at some point in the future.

In the meantime the group calls attention to a recent posting on Agenda Inc. for those curious about the subject.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Copyleft, Co-Inspiration & the Guild Ethic

The Research Group it has just been made aware of the Copyleft concept and is embarrassed to have learned of the phenomenon so late in the day.

However as the idea has finally appeared on the Group’s radar it now makes sense to point out how the approach taken by the Militant Guild of Rural Tailors may have inspired it. –Or at least, to draw parallels between this concept and the role of the Guild’s annual ritual of bestowing the honor of King of the Rural Tailors on one of its ranks during clandestine events which served the greater purpose of disseminating new garment-making techniques across the global subterranean brotherhood.

This practices is reviewed elsewhere in this archive. Its fundamental premise being that of CoInspiration. A philosophy whereby individual practitioners are encouraged to progress the tradition in which they work by attempting to inspire their peers instead of by competing with them.

The practice of bestowing recognition on artisans who have used individual creativity and tailorwise invention to advance the overall state-of-the-art uses a competitive mechanism, namely to have one’s work recognized as superlative relative to the work of others at a given moment-in-time. However unlike traditional competitive models this practice also raises up the role of inspirer as the height of individual achievement in lieu of the gaining of power, wealth, privilege, etc.

It has also been pointed out that the culture of contemporary action-sports that emerged in the 1990’s shares some of these ideals. The preference of the athletes to judge each other’s contribution (epitomized by Terje Haakenson’s Arctic Challenge) is a clear example of this impulse. It’s maybe no coincidence that one of the brands operating in this space has gone by the name Gnu, which is also a type of Copyleft protection. The integration of menswear labels with roots in skate and action-sports may originate from this ethical simpatico.

The crux of both Copyleft and the Militant Guild of Rural Tailors’ philosophy toward progression is that when you use techniques invented by a predecessor or peer, your real ambition should be to progress those techniques even further. This reduces the anxiety associated with the stigma of the “knock-off” in garment design and incentivizes participants to add to the tradition overall. -But it also presumes that making such contributions will provide the participant with deep and central forms of personal satisfaction more so than conventional motivators within the free-market model.

In this regard CoInspiraton and Copyleft concepts radiate a certain nobility on which the Research Group will continue to reflect.

Thanks to the contemporary Japanese label General Research for revealing this former blindspot in our investigations.

Standards & Ethics Traceable in Otaku

For some time now the Reasearch Group has been aware of the growing trend toward high-utility and deep-core authenticity which has been manifesting itself among a loosely associated network of contemporary menswear workshops mostly in Japan.

While this archive exhibited a few Brands Demonstrating Lineage three years ago, that exercise was essentially a postulation regarding the possible generational links between the originl Militant Guild of Rural Tailors of the Industrial Revolution and modern menswear concerns operating today.

The group’s fairly transparent hope was that individuals involved in these modern marks might actually have blood ties to Guild members further up their family trees. Were this to be the case it might partly account for the missing information on the Guild and, at least, connect our generation to theirs.

Since the time of that presentation the list of brands demonstrating many of the features of the Guild’s Standards and Ethics has lengthened steadily indicating possibly that the great grandsons of the Guild are becoming less reluctant to step into the light.

At the same time the Research Group has also kept a keen eye on related development in the East. Specically what we’ll refer to as the “Otaku” menswear brand phenomenon.

“Otaku” translates roughly as “Fan” or, more accurately “Fanatic”. The word covers any obsessive fanatisicm from the coveting of Hello Kitty to the collecting of MacDonalds Happy Meal toys. The expression also relates broadly to fashion in Japan where allegiances between consumers and their favorite lines can become incredibly strong.

But the Research Group is not interested in general Otaku behavior. The Group’s only concern is the growth in Otaku-style brands focused on authentic utility menswear.

It is the Research Group’s express conviction that Rin Tanaka (who graced the group by attending an early exhibition and membership drive in Los Angeles a few years ago) should be credited for having instigated a very large part of the current activity, inspring brand-creators with his periodical surveys; My Freedamn.

The My Freedamn books are passionately assembled to the personal and exacting standards for Mr. Tanaka himself. As such they cannot be claimed as products of the Group’s research but rather they are compliments to it for which the group has great respect and has learned a great deal that has been relevant to the Group’s own inquiries. In fact, along with Free & Easy Magazine, the My Freedamn books are so widely appreciated and so well-known among mainstream global garment researchers that the Group has refrained from adding to the noise on the subject up-to-now.

At this point it is the Group’s conviction that a critical-mass is being reached and it was time to issue comment on the Otaku phenomenon, offer a conjecture as to the role of Mr. Tanaka in inspiring it and remind users of our archive of the parallels between these enterprises and the Militant Guild of Rural Tailors Standards & Ethics. We should be clear that these labels do not  adhere to the full list of Standard & Ethics.

-Their singled-minded focus on the “reproduction” of authenticity being ultimately a handicap which undermines the critical and central Guild ethic of promoting tailorwise invention.

This drive toward the purity of the reproduction (even at the expense of invention and progression except where invention/progressive techniques serve to deepen reproductive accuracy) and its acceleration through zealous focus detail and quality creates a forceful "purification" of the original concept. The cyclical double-reflection that results not only blurs the boundaries of conventional branding, but it has famously purified factually impure elements which have accidently stumbled into its zone of reflection and reproduction... A unrivaled collaboration between the author William Gibson and the Otaku label, Buzz Rickson is one such example.

However, the remarkable approach taken by these brands does succeed in subverting the overt use of standard branding mechanisms and in this regard it does manifest kinship with the Militant Guild or Rural Tailors. The focus on quality, utility and de-seasonalization all also reflect elements of the Guild’s Standards & Ethics.

For these reasons the Group advises those using this archive to familiarize themselves with the work of: Buzz Rickson's, Real McCoy, General Research, Post O'Alls, Workers, Corona Utility, Amoskeag XX, Lost Worlds, Tailor Toyo,Whitesville, Sun Surf, John Severson, Anachronorm, Riding HIgh, Studio d'Artisan, Nigel Cabourn, Sugar Cane, Mr. Freedam, Eastman Leather, Atelier la Durance, Aero Clothing, Stevenson Overall Co., and the many other emerging producers in this arena.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Tailors Shears at Time of the Guild

David Gensler, an inner-member of the MGRT research community, drew the groups attention to material related to the development and production of Tailors' Shears at the turn of the century.

This history refers specifally to the work of J. Wiss & Sons Co in the New World roughly at the time of the Guild's formation. Noteworthy the role of both craftsmanship and invention which contributed to the progression of the cutler's trade. Artisan inventors brave enough to try running machinery powered by a Saint Bernard walking in a gerbil's tread-wheel and committed enough to quality to improve the performance of their products at every stage.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Early Guild Scissors Unveiled

A few members of the research group attended the opening of the new DENHAM shop in Amsterdam last night after hearing rumors that the label would be sharing a portion of its own research material with the public in honor of the occasion. The most intriguing element of the event was the unveiling of an enormous (50cm long) pair of 16th century renaissance French master tailor's shears.

The shears lived up to expectations featuring a series both guild-markings as well as marks indicating what skill levels had been achieved by the master-tailor who had used them.

It is the research group's assertion that the Militant Guild of Rural Tailors first appeared in response to the threats posed by 19th century industrialization, but it was nevertheless fascinating to see the fraternal spirit made manifest in this very early tailoring artifact. -Particularly since all guilds in France were outlawed by the Revolutionary Council in 1791 foreshadowing what was also to happen to later tailoring guilds.

It was also inspiring to see what must be one of the earliest example of the "revolutionary" use a two-part construction in scissor design purpose built for garment making.

The DENHAM Garment Library recently acquired the scissors from the Bradstreet Arcade antiquarians.

Black Knave recognizes MGRT Research as Open Source

The MGRT Research Group owes a debt of gratitude to Stuart Stapleton of the Black Knave for both recognizing the group's efforts to create an open source archive on the history of the Guild and for personally disseminating this message through his own channels. 

The group recognizes the varied orientations reflected across the wide range of people using this archive and has been delighted to see the more obvious historian's interset matched by an equally robust investigation by those seeking to return the Rural Tailor's ethics to their own contemporary menswear concepts.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

East London Innovators

Our British researchers have made intuitive discoveries in the past relating to Guild activity in London. The West End's long established Savile Row has long turned out fine gentlemen's wear for those with an abundance of money. Those working in the less salubrious East End of the city were given less commercial exposure. This allowed them to generate more distinctive styles, which in turn influenced the wider market.

The career of Zachary George Lockwood (above right), was watched with great interest by the British Chapter's leading men – notes on the young tailor are found throughout the archive's current research.

The block between Fashion St. and Hanbury St., taking in Fournier St., Wilkes St. and Princelet St. was a trading place for fine fabrics, and it was from the off-cuts and leftovers that Lockwood honed his craft. His hand-finishing of all his garments was his signature style; rough cut hems sewn with heavy duty cotton thread, patches of different fabrics used within one suit, hidden pockets and handwritten labels. The style suited the area and allowed Lockwood and his small circle of customers to blend in with the crowd of the underclass.

This was, of course, also the time of the Ripper.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Militant Guild: British Chapter

A recent discovery by our UK based archivists has unearthed a collection of documents referencing a British Chapter of the Militant Guild of Rural Tailors.

As the MGRTRG states: "The Research Group faces a continuous ethical and practical quandary relative to the identification of suspected members past and present of the Militant Guild of Rural Tailors." So it is with caution that we reveal too many details about the founding fathers of the group's British Chapter.

Charles H. Wentworth is the first publicly announced member of the British Chapter. Little is known of Wentworth, other than he was at the forefront of Guild activity throughout London in the late 1880s. A staunch conservative, he was the main figurehead at Guild ceremonies, dictating the traditionalist's orthodox.

Sir W. C. Bainthoth was a well respected Tailor who operated from his West London Gentlemen's outfitters from 1880 - 1921. It is accepted that Bainthoth was active in International Guild ceremonies, most notably in Russia prior to the 1917 Soviet Revolution. He is believed to have been linked to radical socialist factions in that region. No formal connections have been recorded, but it is accepted that he played his part in formulating Lenin's opinions on Free Market Economies. His role in colonial activity was recognised by the crown in 1887.

Mr. W. J. Oakley is believed to have operated with Guild credentials from 1892. The youngest member of the pioneers group, he was noted for his alternative stance on tailoring, often to an extreme nature for the time. Little is known about his professional status, other than he was listed in the 1901 census as a fabric importer.

R. Buckminster was a staunch royalist and it is asserted here that he was closely connected to the inner circles of the royal house of Edward VII, assisting in the transition of the monarch from member of the fashionable, leisured elite to leader of the British Empire. His involvement in Guild activity was light, as it was his connections to the powerful elite classes that secured his Guild membership.

Wallace C. Harmsworth was unrelenting in his pursuit of fine tailoring. Several notes discovered in the British Chapter's archive relate to his inception into the Guild in 1882. He mysteriously disappeared one year later. Even after a lengthy police investigation (with the file being closed in 1912) no evidence was found to suggest his disappearance was linked to any criminal activity.

William L. Hadly was the most senior of the pioneers group. He propagated many of the British Chapter's ethics – beyond those of the individual – in order to ensure the group's longevity. Inducted in 1880 – the earliest entry in the Chapter's records. One reference of interest to his previous activity is a record of a "warrant by the Empire" for his arrest, issued in 1840, for "unorthodox importation of opiates" notably at the height of the Anglo Chinese Wars.

Frederick Shields is the youngest of the British Chapter members making his first entry into the records at the age of 27 in 1890. His pursuit of "sports tailoring" pertains to some of the earliest commercial ventures into "adopting sports styles and embellishments with casual attire for the gentleman."

Mr. Ge. Armitage-Smith was the Chapter's official secretary, many of the notes made over the group's history are signed by him, allowing for the suggestion he was an authorised signatory for much of the commercial ventures made by the group throughout its history. The last document relating to the pioneers' group activity is signed on his behalf by Frederick Shields, noting Armitage-Smith's death and the apparent dissolution of Chapter, in 1921.

Bernard Entwhistle (presumed) is probably the most enigmatic of the British Chapter's members. The documentation suggests that, whilst he was much respected, his participation in Guild activity was almost forced upon him.

British Chapter Emblem.
The documentation is bound with this cover. Curiously the emblem only has 8 pairs of shears, as opposed to the membership of 9 people. Adorned with two British lions and a decorative floral motif. The latin text "Iacio Tui Forfex" can be translated to "Throw Your Shears" or "Forge Your Shears" the assumption being made is that each member was also the craftsman of their own tools.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Lost Shears Reemerging

Elsewhere in this research the practice of guild members exchanging their scissors for a pair of Militant Guild of Rural Tailors brass-knuckle shears is discussed.

Further we postulated a conjecture that these original scissors may then have been dismantled and integrated into the "Tailor's Crown" as part of the clandestine annual King-of-the-Guild ceremony.

But it has also been conceded that guild members may not have actually parted with their personal shears as these doubtless represented an important element of their individual experience mastering the tailor's arts (they may have been passed-down from their non-guild master or even a parent). Thus a subsititue pair holding less value may have been used in the exchange during the induction ceremony.



A Child of the Jago

The Young Meagher Project

In anycase, there does seem to be a certain duality between the guild's iconic knuckle-buster scissors and those original individual shears belonging to the members prior to joining and very likey remaining in use by them or others in their atelier.

As powerful as the symolic recieving of the brass-knuckle shears may have been, it was not so powerful as to overshadow the imporant semiotic role of traditional tailors' shears in the hearts-and-minds of tailors both inside and outside the guild.

Maison Martin Margiela

Cloak [currently on hiatus]

Dr. Romanelli

Levi Strauss & Co.

Ecko Cut & Sew

The appearance of this symbol in varied forms within the identities of contemporary menswear practitioners may or may not hint at some connectivity (or historical links) between the guild and the individual tailors/designers who have chosen to integrate the iconography into their emblems today. The use of shears in the insignia of the British Chapter has already been revealed in our research. And, at very least, this more current practice does seem to foreground a reemerging awareness of the importance of tailorwise craftsmanship in the minds of these men. Whatever the esthetic or design-ethic, it's likely those within the guild would have been gratified to see witness this trend and appreciated the nod to the artisan ethos it represents.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Child of the Jago Blog Online

Child of the Jago eases out some glorious gnosis in a new blog. Peek inside.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Aitor Throup's Militant Requiem

Aitor Throup tailors a contemporary militant requiem for New Orleans. The spirit of the guild's lament can be felt in his solemn video.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Project Overview

The ultimate goal is to verify the existence of the Rural Tailors Guild and to outline the nature of its practices and membership from its suspected formation during the early Industrial Revolution up to and potentially including the present-day.

NOTE: Continued Secrecy*
The research community involved in this effort has agreed that it is critical to avoid exposing suspected present-day guild members. In the event that our work leads to the identification of living MGRT members we will endeavor not to directly expose them. This research community recognizes that the current political climate could be potentially dangerous for present-day members (should they be found to exist) due the guild’s founding anti-industrialization posture which is no less controversial today than it was when the guild was first formed. We recognize that, should present-day membership be uncovered, it is likely that these tailors will be active in rural societies (including Muslim) that are already under suspicion and threat by mainstream western political interests.

Use of Aliases

In order to avoid the exposure described above our research community will exercise reasonable precaution in divulging its findings including the use of aliases and the classification of certain information regarding both our membership (the group working on this research) and members of the original militant guild (MGRT) These precautions will be exercised based on our own discretion and may relate to suspected guild members both living and deceased.

Research Community

The researchers involved in this project come from a wide array of backgrounds. Fashion professors, cultural historians, political scientists, menswear industry professionals, sociologists, clothing developers, etc.

Dr. Thomas Skeene: Historian Glasgow University with a specialty in textile history and the socio-economic impact of industrialization on rural textile trades.

Dr. S. Kumar: National Institute of Fashion Design Sector 27, Camac Street, Calcutta. Specialist in research of pre-industrial textile trade in cultures of the sub-continent

David Rand: Lawyer and tailor's trade-union advocate. Social historian of the history of menswear before and after the rise of Savile Row in the United Kingdom and the United States

Lawrence J. Kabanets: Social Studies Lecturer in the Free International University. Specialist in the migration and morphing of Taylorist management techniques in the third world.

Ellen Savitz, PHD: Boston University Lecturer. Specialist in the history of the garment-trade in New York, the rise of Jewish Tailor and the cultural impact of Jewish immigrants on the modern clothing industry.

Sam Young Li: Textile Engineer and Lecturer Central St. Martins fashion program. Research and development in to supermodern garment construction and nanotechnological fiber manipulation.

Ramesh Singh, PHD: Professor of Political Science at Oxford University. Author, The Homespun Paradigm - The Warp and Weave of Revolution. Advisor to the Wool Council of India.

Dr. Anthony Davis Jackson: Professor of Costume and Folklore at University of Grahamstown, South Africa. Specialist in the symbolism of rural costume and the semiotics of garment decoration.

Runar Magnusson: Lecturer The University of Iceland (Háskóli Íslands) on primitive garment function and construction in Northern Cultures.

Supected Guildsmen

The Research Group faces a continuous ethical and practical quandary relative to the identification of suspected members past and present of the Militant Guild of Rural Tailors.

Our attitude toward the Guild’s activities either above or below ground need to remain neutral in order to sustain the academic rigor of our investigations. We have indicated repeatedly that we have secured no “hard” evidence either confirming or denouncing the Guild’s basic existence. It is not our intention to bring unwanted legal scrutiny to individuals we feel may have links to the Guild either through their current associations or, as is more often the case, through their ancestral connections to the tailoring trade.

However, in order to better understand the merit and historical impact of the Guild’s dogmatic design ethic on the history of menswear development, we feel it is within our mandate to offer some indication of the character and geography of potential members.

In the event that this overview causes any difficulties for those featured or for the ancestors of those featured (in the case of historical records) we both apologize in advance and offer again that we have no substantive proof of actual membership. Our archive should not ever serve as “evidence” of membership by justice systems seeking to oppress these tailors or their estates (should they no longer be living).

In order to mitigate such a negative outcome we have elected to use pseudonyms or leave images as anonymous. We have also elected to present the localities of the featured tailors’ design activities as presented by the actual topographies involved without taking the extra step of offering place-names or addresses.

Regarding the Scissors

Shown adjacent to each designer appear an associated pair of shears. It is widely accepted that, as part of initiation into the Militant Guild of Rural Tailors, the initiate was required to trade-in his own scissors in exchange for a pair of the Guild’s symbolic brass-knuckle-shears. As can be seen in the juxtapositions offered here, there is some doubt as to whether the initiate was actually willing to give up his personal scissors in this exchange.

It would be understandable that such a tailor would be reluctant to forgo scissors on which his livelihood was dependent for a pair which promised to be impractical on several fronts. The fit to the new member’s hand, the “action” of the blades and the calibration of the hinge could easily represent functional handicaps. Moreover the brass-knuckle-shears with which they were replaced could not be used in front of the public.

The Research Group suspects that this accounts for the appearance of scissors outside the garment-making tradition. It is likely that initiates sometimes brought non-primary scissors (tin-snips, hair-cutting scissors, grape-scissors, editor’s shears, etc) to serve in the exchange.

We think this is why you see non-garment scissors included in various manifestations of the Tailor’s Crown which feature an assortment of old scissors handed in by these new members.