SILK and SWORD (silkandsword) wrote,

Tailored for the Imagination

< SILK and SWORD > by Ashley Metcalfe
Perth, WA | Australia
Local | Sustainable | Gender Neutral


This LJ account is the news feed for Australian label SILK and SWORD.
Currently I design and construct items by hand, all pieces are one of a kind.

SILK and SWORD aims to enable people to unapologetically express their stories and identity throughout the comfortable and corporate everyday. Structured and bold elements combine with soft organic textures and colours to create a mixed aesthetic. Casual and formal styles blend through the use of textured textiles, modular construction and statement accessories. Each item may be worn alone, mixed with your wardrobe, or layered for an intense aesthetic.

There are duplicities within all of us, between the roles of protected and protector, personal and professional, vulnerable and powerful. Often these duplicities are not in fact in opposition. Often they are viewed through the filter of femininity and masculinity, and the construction of gender. Like other constructs of human classification, genders are merely stereotypes - average of all, true of none.

I currently design to explore the untying of softness and strength from gender roles, with pieces tailored to be worn and interpreted by anyone, under the assertion that we all have the permission to try on any character we choose. I hope to inspire an acceptance of role subversion and play in everyday life, to empower individuals to counteract the stereotype impositions which confine our self-perception.

A Short Spiel about the Brand

The label SILK and SWORD was created with an intent to make the world a nicer place to be.

I aim to encourage people to view each other through a lens of complexity and relativity, rather than through a learned or trendy version of acceptance which comes with local culture and politics. By creating pieces which incite a clash of values in a beautiful or easy way, I hope to resonate with the beauty of the complexity of the person next to you. The idea is to celebrate our ability to be earnestly duplicitous and unexpected, to encourage curiosity about people grown from different traditions, and to normalise everyone's muddy human depth. Muddy from mixing all the paints in the box.

Compounding these intentions into collections, I aim to create a line of easy clothes in smart-casual styling, chosen to help individuals break down some of the walls they struggle with between everyday roles.

One of the strongest inspirations for this concept came from my experience working in an administrative position. As a person with creative interests, I felt limited by the range of acceptable personal expression. I love imaginative subcultures, and imagined fashions such as gothic, cosplay, lolita, cyberpunk, roleplay and others, yet this dimension of my personality did not seem 'work-appropriate'. Somehow my definition of self was automatically informal, and things like my sidecut or wearing all black were at times viewed as controversial, or not accepted as enmeshed with my role and ability for structure, responsibility and professional authority. Appearing niche or "creative" shouldn't be a dramatic statement, and I shouldn't feel dramatic for being uncomfortable with the arbitrary norms of my gender or age.

Everyone combines their interests in a unique way - being a CEO does not mean you can't be a poet or a potter or a compassionate person, wearing a dress doesn't mean you can't be a deep sea diver, or an astrophysicist, or a male. Some people need norms to provide a model for conservative self expression, others need norms as lines not to cross.
With a greater spread of networked technology and increasing exposure to diversity, we need a more nuanced model for perceiving, understanding, forming expectations and building contracts with each other. Eventually, this level of nuance needs to be normalised - giving a greater safe zone to the socially shy, and more lines to acceptably butt up to for the more confident types.

I can't predict such a model - I'm still ironing out all the learned misconceptions I have of myself. (Gender roles are a big one.) But for now - I can suggest that certain traits need not clash with one another. Through clothing, homewares, and other items of self expression. By understanding and visualising our own odd duplicities, and learning not to pitch them against each other, we can represent and spread an awareness of duplicitous normality. One day, we may be able to change the perception from forced false dichotomies to a celebrated and extraordinary diversity of human capacity.

And so here is SILK and SWORD, my little contribution to activism.
Are there any clashes you would like to see addressed in the world?
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