Living basically across the street from the Brooklyn Flea, I know that I have no excuse for being about a decade behind the curve in finally taking up a D.I.Y. activity that requires a modicum of manual dexterity. Thanks to a Lifebooker Loot certificate for a beginning knitting course at La Casita purchased about a year ago and the kick in the pants (a combination of impending certificate expiration date and rapidly expanding belly) needed to actually redeem it, I can proudly say that I am now on my way to hand-crafting my first non-edible project as a grown-up. Starting to knit a baby blanket is hardly a cause for public self-congratulations, but I have to say that an intimate knowledge of how much time and effort goes into making something that I could easily buy for a quarter of the price I spent on the yarn is really eye-opening. It’s not hard to see why there has been such a huge resurgence of interest in craftsmanship and highly skilled manual labor as a result of all this amateur Etsy-style crafting activity. There’s an element of elevated appreciation — gee whiz, how did he make that? — that naturally comes with having tried to make something out of nothing yourself.
The interest in craftsmanship seems to be pretty universal in mature economies across the board. The shokunin (craftsman/artisan) boom has been growing in Japan for a while now and most international luxury brands with any heritage and dignity seem to have shifted their focus from logo-driven celebrity flash to an emphasis on the actual work that goes into their products. Not surprising, given that in these markets, the default setting is overseas mass-production and an abundance of pretty much anything you need at comically low prices. (The iPhone 3G is $49 today!) Naturally, the swingback reaction to such a culture of ‘easy everything’ is to seek out things that are genuinely complicated and difficult. Like comparing a baroque oratorio to a Black Eyed Peas reworking of a song from Dirty Dancing. Scary fact: Handel composed the entirety of the Messiah in just 24 days! I mean, no disrespect, but mad skillz just doesn’t mean what it used to.
Anyway, I’m losing my train of thought again. Oh right, so what I wanted to do was post these videos that Shota sent over and direct you all to Dunhill’s awesome Day 8 site that showcases the work of their craftsmen like this “Making Heritage” video below. Super hot, but totally suitable for work.
This video for Red Wing Shoes I saw on Hypebeast today is similarly awesome, though decidedly more proletarian in flavor. Viva Manual Labor! Being a “knowledge worker” is overrated. It’s what pays my bills for sure, but I certainly wouldn’t mind making something for a living. PowerPoint Schmowerpoint. -sigh- But first things first…I should finish this blanket.