Recently we had a conversation about the state of vintage and second-hand clothes from our shop. And while we always strive to explain and show all the flaws of our garments, we also noticed that ideally, we’d like not to have any flaws at all. This is almost inevitable, as our things are preloved, and so they have some history. When discussing how we feel about it, we came to notice that “new” always seems more desirable in our society. Or if not new then in a “perfect state”. To try and portrait the clothes as new or perfect, however, wouldn’t be helpful for us but only contribute to the problem of discarding whatever has flaws. But above all, it is contradictory to the idea of our shop and Re-Nou’s philosophy.
We felt encouraged to research this phenomenon and deliberately make some space for the notion of imperfection.
First, we looked at where the idea of perfection actually comes from and learned that it goes back a few thousand years. So this idea is really ancient and seems to have stuck with humanity for a while. The theory of perfection leans on the pursuit of a good life or the desirable life. Within the good life, certain human properties of a person are being developed further. There are disagreements of what exactly these relevant properties are, but they all share the foundational idea that what is good, ultimately, is the development of human nature.
In the pursuit of a better life, modern society achieved many goals, by developing themselves further through attaining more and more knowledge. With industrialisation we came closer to the idea of perfection when we were finally able to produce perfect goods, eliminating any human errors through the use of machines. While the fascination for perfect things held on for a few decades, we now realise that we are in fact getting bored with it. Take porcelain ware for example. Now more than ever we are looking for handcrafted, unique designs that are not made by a machine. But are individual and imperfect. For we realised that imperfection is much more human, it is interesting, and it tells a story. While perfect things remind us of automatic machine production without feelings and fates, imperfect things and their background make us think of the people behind them, relate to them, relive something with them. It is this connection between humans that is innate for us.
Interestingly we also found other cultures that always seemed to cherish certain imperfections. In the next post, we will share with you how this is a cultural thing, and what it means within a society.