The Many Lives of the Fashionable Pussyhat

screen-shot-2017-02-25-at-6-43-52-pmWhen I first heard of the Pussyhat project in late 2016, I was excited to create for a cause as part of a global community empowerment initiative. I decided to create my Pussyhats with upcycled yarns-salvaged from an old sweater that sat in my closet for several years. I knew the sweater had a higher calling, and embedding the yarns in the Pussyhats was it! I combined pink yarn from my stash with the novelty pink and white yarns of the sweater. I also integrated gold tinsel that was part of the sweater. The gold really gave each Pussyhat a unique look and personality.

I donated my Pussyhats, along with a few small sheep, to a local knitting store, Handspun, in Ithaca New York. The hats traveled to Washington DC with a group of women on January 21 for the Women’s March on Washington. All I know about the women is that they wore iconic “Ithaca Women are Nasty” shirts. I’m glad my Pussyhats were part of the historic march with over 1 million people.

The day before the March, I learned about the team of powerful women that organized the Women’s March and are strong advocates of social justice, civil rights, and revitalizing American fashion manufacturing. One of the co-organizers, Bob Bland is the CEO and founder of Manufacture NY. Its mission is “to reawaken and rebuild America’s fashion industry, foster the next wave of businesses, and create a transparent, sustainable global supply chain. They provide studio spaces for emerging designers and start ups, provide design consultations for product development, and educational workshops.

Manufacture NY holds a special place in my heart because they hosted a “From Farm to Fabric” event in 2015. It provided an initial space in NYC for people to come together and think about local fiber resources and creative design opportunities. Although I wasn’t able to attend, I was able to share my Master’s research on NY farms. I’ve also kept in touch with Mimi Prober, an artisan designer that was featured in the event. In Fall 2016, I was thrilled to see her creative textile work with New York fibers in person, and more recently, see her beautiful coats and jackets made with NY fibers at New York Fashion Week.

Even though I don’t know exactly who has my Pussyhats, I know that they are a part of a larger movement of empowerment, creativity, and social justice that is linked to great women who are emblems of Made in USA fashion.

I also made a regular hat for myself that carries the unique yarns of my Pussyhats. I went to the Ithaca Women’s March on January 21, and was ecstatic to find Mayor Svante Myrick. Since I am most concerned about the current President’s view on immigration and refugees, I immediately thanked the Mayor for making Ithaca a place that welcomes refugees. I’ve been going to Ithaca Welcomes Refugees meetings and helped make some materials for the welcome packet. Before the Executive Order banning refugees, Ithaca was expected to receive 50 refugees from several countries with the efforts of Catholic Charities of Tomkins and Tioga. Since a Court of Appeals lifted the Executive Order banning refugee resettlement, a family from Afghanistan is expect to arrive later this month.

The Pussyhats have led to a trail of narratives that speak to what is happening socially, culturally, and politically. I recently found out that the Pussyhats will have a second, third, fourth, or fifth life during the International Day of Women on March 8, 2017. I also recently learned that there was a “catwalk protest” at the end of Missoni’s fashion show with over 40 models wearing Pussyhats. From the home to the runway, the Pussyhat has become a symbol of unification at local and global levels.

Missoni Pussyhats, Vogue 2017

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