Inventor Interviews

A map of the world with a black and white grid in the background. There are multi-coloured POP logo's over Europe, America, South America, China and Australia.

Over the past couple of months, the POP team have been busy speaking with an incredible variety of people involved in inventive, making and hacking clothing. We are calling them inventors because we see their practice as truly innovative. Whether this is through expansive systems change or intricate design details, these inventors are attempting to question, re-configure or create socially, politically and/or environmentally sustainable worlds and in many cases future ones as well.

What we find inspiring about their efforts is how they are working, protesting and/or advocating for their beliefs and values through the medium of clothing. Here at Politics of Patents, we are interested in finding out how and why garments can act as a barometer for socio-political change. Through our continual in-depth quantitative and qualitative analysis of the patent archive, it is evident that clothing has been, and will continue to be, used as a tool for shifting global perspectives and aesthetic prejudices.

Comparing the data from contemporary interviews with historic patent documents spanning the last 200 years has been fascinating. Many of the past and present inventors are concerned with similar themes, such as women’s workwear, inclusive sports apparel, and clothing for self-defence.

Many past and present inventors are concerned with intersecting socio-political issues.

We have had the pleasure of entering the creative realms of these thinkers, tinkerers, makers and menders through remote, online, semi-structured interviews. They have given us their time and energy and often sent us extra references, images and ideas afterwards. It has been a privilege to hear their stories and see their practice first-hand. I have been finding it quite hard not to get over-excited during the conversations!

We are nearly half-way through our interviews with inventors part of the project. Hopefully we will be able to conduct some face-to-face interviews in the future. Seeing the creations in real life where we can feel the material and appreciate the tactile qualities of the clothing, maybe even try some on ourselves, would bring a whole new dimension to this section of our research.

We have spoken to a range of people that go beyond the stereotypical menswear/womenswear binaries. This includes streetwear designers, children’s industrial engineers, prosthetics and jewellery experts, make-up artists, lingerie specialists, and humanwear designers. We are looking forward to enriching this list even further and are actively searching for unique individuals from all over the world, who are hacking clothing to better fit different bodies and socio-political ideas.

Please get in touch with us if you are interested in sharing your inventive clothing practice

Below are some examples of striking visuals from the people we have learnt from so far.

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