World 50

In World 50 each person has a unique, sewn signature with which they adorn each other’s clothing. The more signatures a garment ‘holds’ the more it’s prized. This reciprocal embellishment produces a culture which values longevity and creative exchange, and produces communities.

The practice began as a way for a resistance group committed to preserving ‘material communities’ to recognise each other (the origins of the group are unclear, but it’s believed they first emerged in response to Nixon closing the US gold window in 1971), becoming widespread after a series of popular uprisings inspired by the group in the early 1990s.

What if …

we had a deep emotional connection to our clothing produced by a deep emotional connection to each other?

Issue targeted:

the alienating effects of ‘fashion’ and the continued devaluation of clothing and textiles through the increasing speed of cycles of obsolescence


Jonathan Chapman’s theories of ’emotionally durable design’; countless resistance movements (and inversely the Nixons, Thatchers, Berlusconis, Trumps, Boris Johnsons and Bolsonaros of the world) …

This World was contributed by Matthew Crowley (located in London, UK) using a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International licence which allows others to share and adapt the work in any medium and for any purpose, providing that they credit the author and share their material using the same Creative Commons licence.

Response to World 50

American fashion designer Bonnie Cashin offered many tips for inexpensive wardrobe modifications during WW2. One of her more interesting tips, for “hostessing the boys in uniform,” was to make a chintz skirt, ask “the lads to write their names it in pencil,” and “later, embroider your autographs for keeps”.

IVERSON, STEPHANIE DAY. “‘Early’ Bonnie Cashin, before Bonnie Cashin Designs, Inc.” Studies in the Decorative Arts, vol. 8, no. 1, 2000, pp. 108–124. JSTOR, Accessed 19 Feb. 2021.

– Hannah H

Response to World 50

Costume designer Sandy Powell wore a toile of a suit she had made to the Oscars and the Baftas in 2018/9. She asked Hollywood stars to autograph it and auctioned the suit to raise money towards preserving filmmaker Derek Jarman’s cottage.

– Julie Ripley

Does this World remind you of something?

I am keen to hear about any historical or contemporary real-world examples – whether individual practices, subcultures or mainstream activities – that this fiction brings to mind.

Please share any such examples using this form. Thank you!

Published by Amy Twigger Holroyd

explorer of Fashion Fictions