In the new exhibition, entitled Textile Power, they have chosen to display machines in a more logical order so that you can better follow the process, from the first steps in refining the fibres, to the final products.
Various machines combing and spinning the cotton into thinner and thinner threads.
This is a jacquard loom, weaving patterened ribbons using a technique involving punch-cards that was sort of a predecessor to computer technology.
This is a knitting machine which at the end of the process spits out a complete glove with five fingers.
Seeing these patterns displayed reminded me of my mum, because she used to sew most of our clothes at home herself, back in my childhood and youth.
The exhibition also spotlights the conditions for the textile workers in the factories, and how much our whole society and industry has changed in the last hundred+ years. It is easy to forget that only about a century ago, most factory workers in Sweden were still living and working in conditions not all that different from the present-day countries where, in fact, most of the production now takes place - i.e. mostly in Asia. (Low wages, long hours, large families in crowded living quarters etc.)
Borås is still a town with a strong textile focus, and home to various businesses to do with fashion, design and clothes. We have the Textile Museum and also a Textile College; and various companies working with fashion design and smart textile inventions for the future; and shops and mailorder companies selling lots of clothes. But nowadays not much of the actual production takes place here. That has all been moved abroad to far-away places where workers are still living in conditions no longer regarded as acceptable in Sweden... The exhibition at the museum reminds us of that.
Once upon a time, the colour of the water in the river running through this town would shift from day to day, depending on what pigments they were using in the dyeing works at the moment. Nowadays, our river has been cleaned from the old toxic substances from the dyeing industry. A couple of years ago, when a new walk was opened along a part of the river near one such place, as a reminder, they installed lights there that can shift colour. (I wonder if future generations will remember the reason?)
At the museum, they also had this display of A Teenager's Wardrobe from 1950, 1980 and 2010. Another powerful reminder of how consumption has increased. Born in 1955 myself, I can relate to this. I have a lot more clothes and shoes now than I did back around 1980. (And it's not because of never getting rid of old things.)
At another station in the exhibition, visitors are asked to look at the labels in their clothes to check where they were made. It was not very practical for me to do that just then and there - but I gave it some thought when I got home. The only item I had on that was actually made in Sweden was my socks...
In this recent photo, I'm wearing leggings and skirt made in China, and t-shirt and sweater made in Bangladesh... An inspection of my wardrobe showed the majority of my clothes to have been made in those two countries + India. (Not really surprised, but have to confess I've never really given it much thought.)
Yesterday, I went shopping for a (rain)coat. The one I fell for and bought was neither cheap, nor on sale; and for a change it's from Denmark. Well - er - at least the label says "Danish design and fine processing", and also claims to meet "high ethical standards and health requirements"... Whether that actually means it was made in Denmark, I can't tell from the labels... Really, being a "conscious consumer" is not made easy!!!
Anyway, besides being water repelleant and breathable and washable... this coat is also reversible! Which means it can be turned inside out and worn that way instead (mauve outside and dark purple inside), still with pockets and buttons etc in the right places. So it's really two coats in one. I love that, and also the flexible collar, which can also be pulled up over your head and used as a hood. It really is a very smart design. So I hope I'll be able to use it for several years to come.
The exhibition really did set me thinking a lot about these topics. If only it were as simple as paying a bit more for a certain item and knowing the money would end up in the right pocket. Or buying less, and be sure that this would improve the environment... But it's never quite that easy - is it...?
Instead, it's all more like this room in the exhibition, where they had turned the manufacturer's office into a giant board game... Two steps forward, three steps back etc.
Now I'm curious to know what you think....
How has your wardrobe changed over the years?
Do you buy things on impulse, or do you plan your purchases carefully?
And do you check labels to see where things were made??
Through My Lens