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The Wallflower

January 21, 2014

I met him the fall of 2009. It wasn't love at first sight.

 

It played out like a your typical bar/club scene. I met him in the fall of 2009 during my second quarter of undergrad in Dallas. I remember seeing him several times quietly hanging out by the edge away from everyone. You could say he was a wallflower. Perhaps he didn’t have enough “hanger appeal” to catch my eye and draw me closer from across the room. It wasn’t until I inadvertently walked by him that I noticed he was actually a stylish “small” and not a left-over “extra large”.  I’m not one to make the first move, but I decided it was my turn try picking up myself. I took him off his hanger and tried him on immediately. He complimented the way I looked, and knew the moment I put him on that I had to have him.

If only dating was this easy.

My American Eagle jacket is my “go-to” when temperatures drop and I want to stay casual. While the aesthetics of the jacket are interesting with its varying textures and details of black, the amount of thought that went into designing this smart and stylish product created an emotional bond that forever attached the two of us. Notice I just referred to my jacket as if it was a person. It’s my friend I brave the cold with.

 

There is one other thing people will always need in addition to food: clothing. We could debate the importance of one over the other, in fact, consumption of one directly impacts the ability to wear the other. Since the dawn of man, clothing has played a pivotal role in the way we live, socialize, survive, and thrive.

With the low temperatures this winter, it got me thinking about how even those who could care less about what they put on their back wear what they do for a reason.

I wanted to introduce an interesting perspective of interaction through my experience of my jacket. If we think about how we interact with our clothing, the initial thought may induce a pause for thought.

 

My jacket doesn’t just serve the perceived purpose of aesthetics or the utility to stay warm. Every element works by means of intelligent construction. The next few sentences might sound like a script that you hear from a QVC host, but hear me out.

The jacket is made of a soft-brushed cotton knit, but is lined in a wool blend knit. This fiber content of two fabrics serves two purposes, insulation and stretch while maintaining the ability to be washed. The thermal lined hood has an adjustable cord stop to protect the head and face. There is a removable lining made of nylon which acts as an additional layer of insulation AND wind-breaking protection. When worn with the hood off the jacket and lining both have stand collars (one ribbed and the other nylon). The armhole is cut lower to allow room for the other layers of clothing I wear and still maintain the full range of motion of my shoulder. All of the zippers of the jacket are separating metallic zippers that are reinforced by 1” twill tape. The width of the twill tape allows for more stability in the seams that hold the zippers to allow them to undergo “wear and tear” duress and not fall apart. The type of zipper doesn’t catch and allows me to get in and out of the coat quickly.

 

The point I want to get across in my anecdote is that although the garment is laying on the body, there is still an interaction happening. If a garment is being put on, worn, taken off, washed, or seen by others, the person’s body it is interacting with it whether their mind is aware of it or not. The point is to not rouse negative attention. The opportunity to create a positive interaction ranges from fiber content and closures, to construction and fit. In this case, such close attention to detail introduced me to a friend I hang out with every winter. He’s a keeper.

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Johnathan Hayden engages Interaction Design approaches that facilitate a balanced design process of market needs and wants..