The Connected Sweater by semifold
2010–2011

Biggest Obstacle: Figuring out how to taper the sleeve tube in the middle so it would fit properly when cut apart.

Favorite Customer Story: Purchased and tailored to look like a normal sweater. Reason for buying? Regular sweaters never have long enough sleeves.

Favorite Quote From a Manufacturer: “We do not know how this will be worn, but we can make it to your specification.”

The Connected Sweater arrives completely enclosed. The sleeves are knitted together in one continuous piece and the top and bottom of the body are sealed as well. To wear the garment, the user must interact with the sweater’s form and make decisions about how the sweater will fit. With a few snips, the sweater is fully functional and leaves little trace of its original form. The Connected Sweater, like The Charlie Baker shoe, demands consideration and invites creativity from the wearer to turn their “sweater canvas” into wearable art.

The Process

Creating The Connected Sweater was unexpectedly difficult. As we had for previous garments, we sent out a crude drawing of the concept to a handful of clothing manufacturers and waited for price quotes. Response after response said it was impossible to make such a sweater. Curiously, many manufacturers noted that it would be difficult to wear and that we might consider another design. With some coaxing and additional diagrams, the first samples were made. To accommodate fit preferences, the sweater body and sleeves were made twice as long as normal. However, early wear testing revealed the sleeves to be uncomfortably roomy, as they were a uniform circumference from shoulder to wrist. Consequently, the sleeves were tapered, reaching a two inch diameter at their narrowest point. Several wearers that have chosen not to cut the sleeve tube apart have noted that wrapping the tube around their body creates a make-shift straightjacket. To each their own.

What it Means to Me

The Connected Sweater’s mission is a little more obvious than The Charlie Baker’s: the user must alter the garment to use it for its intended purpose. While watching first time wearers put on The Charlie Baker reveals little difference in shoe-tying approach, watching first time wearers tackle The Connected Sweater reveals much more about the user’s expectations of the garment, their willingness to modify it, and their concern for its preservation. Many first time wearers cut as little as possible, merely taking it from The Connected Sweater to The Unconnected Sweater. Others don’t even get that far, as several have only chosen to cut head and waist holes, leaving the sleeves as a long tube. After these items travel back to the wearer’s closet, it is difficult to say how they evolve. Some are worn like any other sweater. Others are modified further with buttons and embroidery. Still more are probably never brought out again. In any case, The Connected Sweater’s mission continues, either as an outward symbol of initiative and creativity or a closet-based daily reminder to stay curious and cut things apart.

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