Part research method, part art object, The Shirt is a specifically designed consumer item, manufactured in a Chinese factory, which uses bespoke digital technology to make visible all the people and processes behind its production. The Shirt has barcodes on it, and when you put your smartphone over the barcode, using a bespoke app, it will trigger digital content that reveals the very people and processes involved in making the actual shirt in your hands. The app was designed in collaboration with TheFusionWorks.
We designed the shirt according to the tacit rules used by high street brands today, which we’ve discovered during our research: copy, copy & change 5 things to make it your own. We bought 5 shirts in charity shops that have very different origins – from high-end to low-end; from office smart to weekend casual – and we modelled our shirt on these. The shirt has a rounded collar that pays homage at once to Chinese design and also to the shirts worn in 19th century Britain. Those who joined us on the journey by pre-ordering a shirt, were consulted on final details of design. Mimicking the real world, production of The Shirt was made possible when we raised the capital for manufacture. By last Autumn we had enough pre-sales to give us the green-light for production in the Chinese factory. We travelled to Shanghai in the Autumn of 2014, to film the whole process of the manufacture of your shirts. From that footage, we created the content of the smartphone app, allowing you to meet the very people who made it, as it was being produced. A limited edition run of 200 shirts were commissioned and made. The finished shirts were sent by sea from China to the UK at the end of last year. Once the bar code technology was approved by the App stores, we shipped out the shirts to our consumers. We have already shipped over 50 shirts, with sales still coming in. To accompany World Factory: the Performance, METIS and Company of Angels have created an educational resource pack which brings to life the topics of globalisation, business ethics and the history of manufacture for students from KS3 to GCSE. World Factory: The Pattern provides an exciting opportunity to explore the global textile industry, focusing particularly on the relationship between the UK and China. The pack contains interactive technological tools and is designed to be used in classrooms without the presence of an external facilitator. It provides valuable resources, a wealth of source material and inspiring activities for the teaching of the National Curriculum across a range of subjects including Geography, History, Business Studies, Design and Technology, Religious Studies and Citizenship. For more information about The Pattern, please click here.
MORE INFORMATION Consumers: The cost of the shirt covers the standard costs of manufacture for a high-street shirt. The creative costs of producing the app and its content are subsidized by the World Factory project as a whole. The shirt is manufactured in a single size based on our research into the average male body size.. Click here to find out more about ‘The Pattern’ – the educational resource pack developed by METIS and Company of Angels. METIS would like to thank the following people who have kindly become donors: Peter Gingold, Bill Gee, Martin Pike, Cary Parsons, Gill Cuthbertson and Stella Hall