Name: Edible clothes.
Appearance: Stylish and practical.
Season: Autumn 2018.
Is this some kind of supersized fetish garment? Like edible underwear for hungry people? No. It’s a recent innovation from the Clothing Research Centre.
Ah. Another cult fashion label with an ironically bland name? Nope. It’s a division of the Foodstuffs and Daily Necessities Research Institute, which is part of the Ministry of Provincial Industry in North Korea.
Of course. I gather that irony isn’t really part of the vibe in the North Korean government. But, um … why did it invent an edible fabric? The innovation was first reported by Alek Sigley, an Australian masters student in Pyongyang, who got hold of two clothing catalogues. The women’s one carries the simple strapline, quoted from Kim Jong-un: “Make Korean women more beautiful”.
By eating their clothes? Ah, no. The edible material is in the men’s catalogue, which is titled Men’s Clothing: Shape and Design Materials (9), and has a more functional aesthetic. The strapline is a rather half-hearted: “Men also ought to go about wearing varied clothing in several styles.”
Well, they should. A text box beside a pink dress shirt promises “clothing made from artificial flannelette fabrics composed of … high-grade protein, amino acids, fruit juice, magnesium, iron and calcium”.
But, again, why? “Clothing worn by people engaged in sailing, outdoor exploration, and mountain climbing can be eaten to avoid starvation in the event that food has run out.”
Why would you climb a mountain in a formal pink shirt, even one you could eat? Maybe the flannelette could be used to make a parka instead.
Once you have avoided starvation by eating your clothes, haven’t you just swapped one problem for another? That is a pickle, I admit.
Is the institute also working on food you can wear? Not that it mentions. I suppose half a grapefruit could make an emergency hat. Trousers would be the challenge.
So why invent an edible shirt? The love of inventing things, or pretending that it has. Elsewhere the catalogue promises “clothing with intelligent sleeves”, which monitor the “health condition of the human body”, using unspecified technology.
Of course they do. There are also coats that circulate cooling liquid to refresh the skin.
I use a technology called “taking my coat off”. There is even soluble clothing.
How is that an advantage? Pass.
Do say: “Make Korean men more delicious.”
Don’t say: “Make Korean men very worried about rain.”