Category Archives: you know what's weird?

But is it Kosher?

Last night, when I saw the news about the alleged presence of genetically modified cotton in 30% of H&M’s tested “organic” garments, I had some questions about genetically modified crops. I emailed my former professor, the food writer Fred Kaufman. 

I was thinking of “The Nucleotidal Wave,” a piece he wrote about visiting the UC Davis Plant Transformation Facility, where  he watched scientists shoot DNA at fruits and vegetables with a gun he described as a cross between a “1950s gas pump and a mini fridge.”

I assumed Fred would invoke some nucleotidal knowledge, but he actually sent me to “The Secret Ingredient,” a different, but no less entertaining, story he wrote for Harper’s about the kosher certification process, suggesting the kosher model might be applicable to GM cotton. I downloaded it from the sidebar of his website, and laughed out loud several times as I was reading it, but in the end I was a little troubled.


It seemed to me that the kosher certification process turned out to be a highly marketable myth based on little more than, well, faith.

Then this morning I read Julie Roads‘ comment on my original post on the topic:

…and I also think that, like most things, organic was very special at first, but it’s become so mainstream that people are now using it as a buzzword – obviously – to sell. They’re selling organic out which basically sucks.

Same thing is happening with food. The flimsy rules around what can be labeled ‘organic’ or ‘natural’ or ‘all-natural’ will make your head feel like cauliflower. And that’s just not pretty.

In the end, what do we get? The destruction of trust and, sadly, we end up not caring as much about ‘going organic’ anymore – because we have no faith in what it stands for.

So while I’m not entirely sure if this is what Fred meant when he sent me to “The Secret Ingredient,” I think both he and Julie are right: a lot of this is about faith. 

We can’t go around testing our organic cotton clothing any more than we can taste whether our non-GMO grapes have been spliced with jellyfish DNA, or know for certain that our kosher Oreos are indeed kosher. Honestly, I still can’t quite figure out exactly what that means, much less what it’s worth.

But, as Julie wrote, it would be a shame for the manufacturers to sell out “organic” without even giving customers the chance to believe in it.

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Government Undies

You know what’s weird? This story, from the front page of today’s New York Times about middlemen, or more specifically, middlewomen, who sell giant bras and behemoth undies to the government from their homes, is pretty weird.

Clothing a Hard-to-Fit Inmate is All in a Day’s Work for Governments’ Go-To Gals

Photo by Nathaniel Brooks for The New York Times

I especially liked this bit, when Florence Nicholas, a 69 year-old slipper-slanger, told the Georgia state government they need to catch up with today’s technology.

Take the bid specs that Georgia recently issued for broadcloth, explicitly asking for “domestic goods,” Ms. Corey noted.

“Everybody knows that there aren’t any domestic textiles in the U.S., or very few,” she said. “Very often, I have called the buyer to bring to their attention that the specifications don’t make sense,” she said. “And the answer I get is ‘Oh, we’ve been using the same specifications for the last 20 years,’ and I say, ‘Yeah, except technology has moved on.’ ”

Look, you can even see documents like this one, noting items like $162,627.00 worth of orange sneakers for Riker’s Island. Corey said she has generated as much as $2 million per year in sales.

If this journalism thing doesn’t work out, I suppose I always have my production experience.

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Brand DNA

With this post, I’m introducing a new category to Closettour called “you know what’s weird?” Named in honor of my friend Laura’s favorite game to play on high school road trips, the category will join closet case study, denim diaries, in the field, news, and to market, Closettour’s current categories.

So today, you know what’s weird?

Branding an item with DNA.

Not figuratively, like when designers at J Mendel told me that a certain level of workmanship was “part of their brand’s DNA.” No, I mean, literally using DNA to brand an item. 

Massimo Gammacurta lollies from fashionphile.com

According to a press release, Applied DNA Sciences, “the only company in the world that is making use of the complex codes embedded in botanical DNA as the ultimate solution to counterfeiting,” has struck up a deal with a Europe-based luxury brand to supply DNA markers that will be used to verify authenticity. They’re not saying which brand signed the deal, but it’s got to be someone with a good deal of clout. (LVMH? Gucci? Chanel? Hermés?) 

Louis Vuitton x Takashi Murakami: Designer QR Codes

image from highsnobiety.com

My money’s on LVMH. I’m imagining this will be used for luxury accessories, but how will one go about showing off their cutting-edge DNA marked handbag? And how will the layman know it’s not just another knockoff?

Maybe they’ll contract an artist to play with some DNA strand logos for their DNA branded bags. I can see it now…but who’s to say they won’t get cloned on Canal Street? 

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