New status symbols

I think I recall reading that the superrich increasingly rely on health and wellness to signal high status. That makes sense since anybody can make their own high fashion clothing or cars, even moreso now that 3D printing is a thing. Not to mention that the status symbol changes. At some point, owning land itself was a big status symbol before and to be fair, some rich people still own land.

It’s not that fancy cars and clothing haven’t stopped being status symbols but they are lessened now that mass market clothing brands and 3D printing can ape them pretty well. So well that brands like H&M get accused of plagiarism. Not to mention that whilst it’s possible to make gym equipment out of ordinary materials (some people make dumbbells out of used mechanical equipment), it seems fitness and health are now used to differentiate the rich from poor.

As is travelling even if that too wasn’t always the case (something like religious activity or business trips or even to relax).


Adaptation Fidelity, Good or Bad

I actually think it’s possible to present an adaptation that’s true to the source material this would be easier if/when the source material itself doesn’t have much of a complicated continuity the way superhero comics (and the like) tend to have. It would be much easier to faithfully adapt let’s say The Secret Garden than say Superman. Even if it were possible, but not when such a source material’s so complicated that it’s best to leave out or alter details.

I admit to having similar suspicions over superhero adaptation fidelity before but now understanding more, I realise that there are reasons why we don’t get faithful superhero adaptations. The highly complicated continuity makes it a nightmare to adapt it in earnest and hence why details get changed or omitted. Then there are the costumes. Even if it were possible to remain faithful, they really don’t hold up well without being fetishistic or plain ugly.

Often almost without exception (it would be really hard to take Hugh Jackman seriously if he wore a bright yellow catsuit and Ben Affleck found his Daredevil costume pervy too). Admittedly, adaptations of non-superhero media aren’t any better though depending on the franchise it would even be fairly tolerable. Especially if they have enough time and resources to get it done right.

I guess superhero comics and by extension, the live action Disney remakes are in a quandary between not only having to make outfits faithful to their original designs and believable but also what they can do with limited resources. (That makes sense why some live action production costumes don’t turn out the way they should, even costume designers feel that way too.)

It’s not necessarily always a matter if adaptation fidelity’s good or bad but that even well-intentioned costume designers may not always get it right too (given my own personal sewing experience).

Getting into fashion

Whilst I do think there are celebrities who’re pretty good at embroidery and even dressmaking in their spare time, there are others wanting to get into fashion design and fashion business in general. However just some managed to have any real staying power, fewer still with any real respectability. So much so that it may be their true calling when one thinks about it. (There might be a good reason why Victoria Beckham ended up doing so well in fashion.)

These are the lucky ones in that their brands managed to have not only staying power but also sometimes respectability especially in due time. That’s not to say that Kanye West is that bad in fashion but it seems just it’s harder to think about celebrity fashion lines that don’t scream desperate for publicity. I even recall in another book that it’s even detrimental to upcoming designers who have no known fame outside of fashion.

Like if you’re already famous, you could get away with that even if it’s hurting somebody else who’s a newcomer and not even a household name at that!

Copying the big cat

I suspect it may be possible to do a casual cosplay that closely resembles a certain outfit or look in mind but that would involve considerably much more skill and technique in making something that doubles as both proper cosplay and everyday wear. I think that’s the dilemma superhero costume designers are in whenever they have to do work for superhero productions. They want to make the outfit as close as possible but also wearable enough for everyday use.

Especially if it’s live action where people can and will notice actors by chance. There will be some changes, especially if a certain look doesn’t translate well to everyday use. Something superhero costume designers know well. Even if it’s still very close to the original 2D design, some changes are made as to make them double for everyday wear. What seems to be a skirt would have to be made into a belt and the entire armour like look would be turned into a two piece.

(Maybe a three-piece but that’s still saying.)

The mask (and sometimes gloves) could be specifically for cosplay as the rest of the outfit’s used for other things. But like I said, in making the outfit double as everyday wear the materials may have to differ. It’s like in superhero productions where instead of regular lycra and micromodal, you get something like scuba, jersey or even satin. In making it double as a regular outfit, changes would be made even if they’re pretty subtle.

Some of those details might even be from leftover fabrics whilst other details are excised. That includes the hair, especially if you can’t afford a wig and that in public, you may not always wear a wig for many reasons (unless if it’s in certain circumstances). In order to pull off a casual cosplay that does closely resemble such a look in mind, you’d be better off learning high fashion sewing techniques.

(In addition to that, this also involves incorporating sewing techniques needed to make let’s say athletic clothing or even clothing from other subcultures.)

Even if it’s close, some details may either be excised altogether or modified (subtly or not) as to make such an exacting casual cosplay double as normal clothing.

Working faster

I suspect when it comes to video clips of people working almost preternaturally faster, that would’ve been the case before though it wasn’t documented much yet. Not to mention I think that there would’ve been people figuring out ways to get the job done faster in the pre-industrial revolution and still is today to some extent. One could be a seamstress and use multiple threads to sew a garment more efficiently (as I know from personal experience in sewing).

You could be a hunter and devise ways of getting to hunt faster without needing a gun, which I suspect is still the case with hunter-gatherers. (Something like feeding the prey and then killing it.) Or in the case with Swaziland, some owners make both cats and dogs hunt rats. Ad infinitum with other examples. If you’re either too poor to buy high-tech equipment or too attached to low-tech equipment, you’d inevitably figure out ways of getting it done faster whatever you can do about it.

The London and Paris ladies’ magazine of fashion, ed. by mrs. Edward Thomas (Google Books)



A Sevsiblk writer in The Times says, under the signature “Amicus,” “Queen Victoria in Windsor Palace and the ennoblest peasant woman in her cottage alike use what is called * sewing cotton.’ I invite them to test themselves what I am about to state. The majority of reels or bobhins of thread profess to hold 300 yards— those of the most respectable makers measure really about 260 or 270 yards—which is a comparatively small defalcation from their professions. But there exists a reel which circulates, owing to its apparent cheapness, much among the poor, is very extensively shipped, and is known as the ‘ Paisley Reel.’ My friend has sent me five specimens of this favourite reel, which, it appears, is not exclusively manufactured at Paisley, but is rather the name adopted by most thread-makers for a particular manufacture. No. 1, ‘The British Exhibition Thread,’ professes to be 100 yards—measures only 60.

No. 2, marked’ Sons, Manchester,’ Paisley quality,

300 yards—measures only 176. No. 3, green ticket, marked ‘Paisley Sewing Thread,’ 300 yards, and made at Paisley, measures only 160 yards. This appeared to me, I confess, when I had got thus far, a strong enough deception for anything—to withhold from the housewife exactly one-half of what she supposed she was buying. But my friend’s memorandum stated ‘the above are for the home trade,’ and this led me to suppose there was something worse behind. I proceeded with my inquiry, and it appeared that specimens Nos. 4 and 5 were ‘for shipping only.’ No. 4 is labelled, on gold tickets, ‘Persian Thread, six cord,’ and ‘ Warranted 200 yards.’ The truth is, it measures 100 yards, and is only three cord. My last example, No. 5, is the ‘Royal British Thread,’ ticketed 100 yards. It measures exactly 25. I enclose you the bobbin of this last sample as я real curiosity in the history of trade.”

Relative to this, the well-known manufacturers, Messrs Jonas Brook and Brothers, have also written to The Times a letter, in which they say—” We feel it our duty to step forward, and, while there is time to do good by prevention of evil, to do what lies in our power to expose such scandalous frauds as are animadverted upon by your able correspondent.

“We may state in the outset that we are manufacturers of sewing cotton on a large scale, and have been long known to the trade as such, and rest our claim to give an opinion on the subject on which we write on an experience of half a century, borne out by the facts that we ohtained the only prize awarded at the Hyde Park Exhibition for sewing cotton, as well as the only first

class prize awarded at the Paris Exhibition for the same production.

“Your correspondent ‘Amicus’ is perfectly correct in his remarks upon the fraudulent practices in marking the lengths of threads upon the reels or spools on which they are wound. We can more than bear out his statement of the frauds practised on the public in these respects. In the year 1862, prior to which term we had not wound our own thread, we were applied to by a shipper to supply an order for reeled thread. We stated our prices, which he considered too high. Our customer said, ‘You give, as on your labels, the full length, which we do not require; you must state 100 yards, and wind 70; 200 yards, and give 150; 300 yards for 230.” We were astonished at such a request, and replied at once, that on no account would we do such a thing, and said to the applicant, ‘Sir, you ask us to be rogues;’ and should we not have been rogues had we complied with such a request? He then said, ‘Well, sir, you cannot succeed in your new undertaking of winding your own thread unless you follow the system I recommend: it is the custom of the trade.’ We refused the order on such conditions. After this we made full inquirers into the truth of this shipper’s remarks, and we are bound to say that we found it to be just as he had stated. We therefore decided to expose the system, and advertised the facts in the Huddersfield Chronicle, besides taking other steps to make it extensively known. It is a common practice for shippers to keep on hand a list of prices of threads of the following lengths :—200 yards, 180, 170, 160, 140, 120 yards. A purchaser eelects his lengths, but with the knowledge that, although the reel or spool contains only 180 yards or less quantities, they are all to go abroad ticketed 200 yards, and they do go out so ticketed. Equal deception is practised in shorter lengths —the 100-yards’ reels or spools being similarly defective, and all having the same outward appearance. The fraud consists in the bole or harrel of the reel being thicker than it ought to be, so that, while the full quantity of thread appears to be sold, the fact is, that a purchaser ohtains so much more wood as he is short of being supplied with thread. We send you herewith a reel which we had offered to us as a sample for a large order; and you may judge for yourself how small a quantity it could hold; 25 yards would fill it, and yet it would seem to be a 200-yards’ reel. We refused to degrade ourselves by taking the order. We also enclose you a proper 200-yards’ reel, and you will see how the public are deceived and defrauded; the genuine article and the spurious one may easily pass for each other when wound upon; the only way to test them is to do as your correspondent ‘Amicus’ has done—unroll and measure them, and the fraud is at once palpable.

“Now, these frauds have been the cause of much evil. As regards ourselves and others who are determined to be honest, we are compelled to become merchants as well as manufacturers; but beyond, and far beyond any immediate interest of our own as manufacturers, the fame of the British merchant and the manufacturer is exposed to the charge of deceit and fraud, which our forefathers would have spurned to have attached to them.

“We have applied to the Court of Chancery for injunctions to restrain impositions on ourselves, and always with success; but it is through your columns only that public opprobrium can be attached to euch scandalous practices as these we have pointed out, and which your able correspondent ‘Amicus’ also exposes. It will, no douht, sometimes happen that the exact length may not be giren, as we as well as others are to some extent in the hands of our workpeople; but such defects can only be occasional, and are very different from the preconcerted frauds referred to by ‘ Amicus.’ The productions of the British loom and the produce of British labour and ingenuity, rightly directed, may safely defy the competition of the world. It is only when avarice and dishonesty combine to produce an inferior article, or to clothe deceit with the appearance of uprightness, that our national name suffers by investigation disclosing frauds.

“Most of the deception is practised with common threads ; and, if ladies would ask for the best thread, and see that there is the name of a respectable maker upon it, they would do much towards stopping the mischief.”


In the days when high-heeled French boots were the pride of fashion, there was a shoemaker in London who made a fortune by the sale of the best Paris boots, at a price which all his fellow-tradesmen declared ruinous. He undersold the trade, and ohtained troops of customers. These boots must be stolen, said his rivals; but there was no evidence that they were: certainly they were not smuggled boots, for any one could satisfy himself that the full duty was paid upon them at the custom-house. The shoemaker retired from business with a fortune. Afterwards his secret was accidentally discovered;— although he had paid duty for the boots, he had not paid for everything that was in them. There was a heavy duty payable on foreign watches; and every boot consigned to him from Paris had contained in its high heel a cavity exactly large enough to hold a watch. The great profits ohtained by the trade in smuggled watches, made it possible for this tradesman, when he had filled up their heels, to sell his boots under prime cost. This was worth while, again, because, of course, by the extension of his boot-trade he increased his power of importing watches duty-free.

Some years later, an elderly lady and a lap-dog travelled a good deal between Dover and Ostend. It came to be generally considered at the custom-house that her travels were for the sole purpose of smuggling Brussels lace, then subject to exceedingly high duty: but neither the examiners of her luggage, nor the female searchers at the cuetom-house, who took charge of her person, could by the narrowest scrutiny find matter for a single accusation. At last, when she was about to decline the smuggling business, this lady accepted a bribe from a custom-house officer to make him master of her secret. Calling to her side the lap-dog, who was to all strangers a very snappish little cur, she asked the officer to fetch a knife and rip the little creature open. Like a few of the dogs (which have sometimes even proved to be rats) sold in the streets of London, it gloried outwardly in a false skin; and between the false skin and the true skin was space enough to provide a thin cur

with the comfortable fatness proper to a lady’s pet, by means of a warm padding of the finest lace. In the reign of Louis the Eighteenth—it may be noted, by the way—very fierce dogs were trained to carry valuable watches and small articles under false skins across the frontier. They were taught to know and avoid the uniform of a custom-house officer. Swift, cunning, and fierce, they were never to be taken alive, although they were sometimes pursued and shot.—Household Words.


Two or three of his former friends, of unusually strict principles, cut him dead; half-a-dozen more only bowed, and avoided speaking; and a good number spoke as little to him as they could help, without being actually uncivil; but this was only a nine days’ wonder: the feeling against him gradually wore off, and in six months his misdeeds were generally forgotten, and he was nearly as well received as ever. Now, if Vivian had cheated at cards, or played with loaded dice, or acted dishonestly aa a railroad director, he would bave been cut—utterly and hopelessly cut, but as it was, he having merely ill-used and defrauded the woman he had sworn to cherish, it was not thought worth while to punish him for such a small offence against society as that. Does it not show a great want of chivalrous and generous feeling among gentlemen, that while they exclude from society any one of their own order who, by his dishonourable behaviour, has defrauded one of themselves, they will yet continue to receive on friendly terms a man who has behaved dishonourable to a woman? If a gentleman pledges his word to another gentleman, and does not redeem it, he is cast out of gentlemen’s society; but if a gentleman pledges his faith before God’s altar to a lady, and notoriously breaks his oath, there are but few, very few gentlemen indeed, who will refuse to associate with him. The sentence of excommunication that is passed on persons whom society determines to cut is a very severe one, but it is a useful and salutary punishment, and acts as a warning to others who are inclined to err in the same direction. If ladies were to determine that they would not admit within their houses men who had been notoriously guilty of breaking God’s laws, or of having cruelly oppressed a woman, they would greatly raise the standard ot” morality and confer an immense benefit on their own sex. Many a man who is not withheld from crime by the fear of having to answer for it in the next world, would be withheld if he expected to meet with punishment in this. If a man knew that if he behaved ill to his wife he would be excluded thenceforth from the society of other ladies, as women very properly are when they do wrong; if he knew that he should never again receive an invitation to a hall or evening party; if he knew that from henceforth all his lady acquaintances would look coldly on him, and that he should be entirely reduced to the club for society, he would think twice before he did anything that would entail this punishment on him, and would treat his wife differently. Thus women might, if they choose, confer protection on each other.

Doing it right?

I did do the research on getting something right, with regards to the actual methods and I think upon me becoming more aware of cultural appropriation, having to do things almost exactly like they did (for Ndop fabrics, this involves resist dyeing and stitching using some amount of wax for getting the patterns right) I think involves greater respect for what they’re doing. Especially if you do like they do upon researching and developing some regard for them.

Maybe I’m still wrong about cultural appropriation but even if you put your personal spin on it you should also do the research upon what you’re doing. Let alone getting it right enough. At other times, you’d not only have to do the research right (especially when it comes to replicating such fabrics) but also observe how it’s done in action in travelling. Or at the very least, doing just like they do.

The more you research on how it’s done (extensive embroidery for toghu, resist stitching and dyeing for ndop) and the people behind it (the Bamileke and Cameroon in general), the more you have to work to get it right enough. Maybe that’s still wrong but that’s my take.