….because, you know, of the collapse of civilization. But how will the survivors be dressed? This article in the Guardian argues that fashion sense will be the first casualty of any world-destroying force. From a stage/film viewpoint, I can certainly see moviemakers’ justification for using punk/tribal costuming for their characters. Black leather, body armor, heavy weaponry, tattoos, and “big, stompy boots” create the impression of a dangerous, anarchic, every-man-for-himself kind of world where law and order have broken down and the hero/heroine is alone in their search for truth, justice, and a zombie-free life.
But movies aside, what would survivors in post-apocalyptic world actually wear? I can see the point of stompy boots–you need sturdy footgear when tromping through the rubble of previously thriving cities–but booty shorts, lace up pants, long dresses, and mini-skirts? No way. Moviemakers tend to take the Western point of view that lack of modern technology equates primitive society. The reality is that any society where the members have the leisure time to paint intricate tattoos on their body and construct elaborate armor and decorative as opposed to practical clothing is extremely sophisticated.
In a realistic post-apocalyptic scenario, people would be living on a much more primitive level. It’s always a safe bet to assume that large scale agriculture and manufacturing have become casualities of the apocalypse so where are folks going to be getting their fabric from? And what about the skill set needed to make clothing items, armor, weapons, etc. from scratch?
Moviemakers usually get around awkward questions like this by setting their films either immediately after disaster or by assuming that their societies have rapidly reached a sophisticated level. For the purposes of our scenario, however, let’s assume that neither of those things has happened. How do people cope in a world where ready access to clothing materials has been cut off?
One way would be to re-purpose pre-existing materials as in the examples shown below:
Street sign armor made by Chain Crafts (see blog here) and modeled by Eric L. Posted to Crafster. Shoulder armor is made from discarded Stop and Dead End signs. Metal was shaped using a ballpeen hammer and an anvil.
Joan of Arc suit of armor made by Obudah (Craftster) from bicycle intertubes. The whole suit took 40-50 hours of work.
But re-purposing only lasts as long as there are stockpiles of pre-made goods. Sooner or later the rubble runs out and people have to generate their own garments (and other objects of daily life) from raw materials. That means re-learning all those pre-industrial, agrarian skills most folks have forgotten. Sure, the sheep may now be mutant and man-sized, but that doesn’t mean one can’t gather their glow-in-the-dark wool and spin it into yarn. (Say it with me now: “we’re going to need a bigger spindle”).
Really, when you think about, costumers and artisans with their hard-won hoard of do-it-yourself skills will be in high demand come the apocalypse. Yes, it will be artists who rule this brave new world. Mwuwahahahaha!