Seaming Hands: The Meaning and Value of the Handmade in Contemporary Fashion




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Peer reviewed



The perpetual crisis of subjectivity experienced today means
that the modern self is always partial and relative to what is “other.” This corresponds to the more individualized and coded values relevant to what is currently regarded
as “original” or “authentic,” notions that
are inseparable from luxury in fashion.
This article analyzes the handmade in contemporary fashion as the product of liminality and our reflexive response to it – a necessary process in the renewal of existing values. This analysis derives from my experience of making a series of seamless woven garments, entirely by hand. The handcrafted elements and seamlessness of these garments, qualities traditionally associated with luxury production, are reappraised in this article,
as the process which offers a luxury experience for the maker: the act of making becomes a method of displacement, creating a space for contemplation and self-reflection, which is then communicated to the users via the material trace left by the making hands. Certain modes of making and using material objects can thus be seen as our own “rites of passage,” which heighten the awareness of the link between self and other in contemporary society. This article therefore suggests an alternative notion of luxury, one which reflects the value arising from attentive modes of interaction with material objects and people, and the reflexivity this experience allows. This new luxury is thus a more graspable one, as it can be self-generated here and now.



seamless, liminal, luxury, reflexivity, handmade


Lee, Y. (2015) Seaming Hands: The Meaning and Value of the Handmade in Contemporary Fashion. Luxury: History, Culture, Consumption, 2 (1), pp. 61-80


Research Institute

Institute of Art and Design