Picture Book: Autumn

As each new season hints at its arrival, I am excited at the opportunity offered by my son’s now too-small clothing to create a warm, joyful, and fantastical image for us to spend time inhabiting together in the next months. I select a mix of bottoms and tops in a similar colorways and coordinating prints that can be put together in any combination so I don’t spend much time selecting his clothes on any given day.

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Jess Brown Dolls, Moccasins , Deer, Hippo

Attending my imaginative considerations are my political concerns. For example, I think about the gender implications of my choices. I also think about fast fashion and sustainability, a special challenge when the rate of wear and growth is accelerated for kids, beyond anything adults encounter with their own wardrobes. I look for natural fibers like cotton and wool. Brands like Zara and H&M have sustainability projects. I look for pre-owned clothes and hand-me-downs before I shop for new. When my son outgrows his clothing, I look for ways to donate and recycle.

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1 Sweater, 2 Wool Sweater, 3 Sweatshirt, 4 T-Shirt, 5 Cats, 6 Textured Shirt, 7 Striped Sweater, 8 jacquard Jumper

Artist J. Morgan Puett captures much of the ethos that drives my attention to these concepts in her interview with the New York Times:

“According to Ms. Puett . . . her signature style was never a simple matter of longing for the past. “It’s not about nostalgia or re-enacting,” she said. “I believe that all of these time periods and histories are pressing in on us at once,” contributing to the complexity of our present and future experience.

“What I’m really interested in is the future and what it looks like,” she said, and “in inventing a future through history and material culture and art.” Above all, she believes in creating and inhabiting environments, including domestic ones, with the same degree of care and engagement that artists typically bring to their studio practice.”

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1 Dash Print Leggings, 2 Silk Blend Set, 3 Denim Jumpsuit, 4 Knit Joggers, 5 Purple Harem Pants, 6 Buttoned Pants, 7 Animal Print Leggings, 8 Wrap Pants

In the spirit of future, material culture, I have a place set aside where I save special pieces that will no longer be worn at the end of each season. Sometimes the item has been so loved, really only a scrap can be salvaged. When the time is right, I will use this collection of poignant prints and colors to make a quilt for my son, so that the memories of this time can be conjured for us later in a living way, in a tangible object that will bring renewed utility to our old favorites.

Gabriella Ditalia