What to wear to the Corduroy Appreciation Club's next bash? Yes, one might contemplate more weighty contemporary issues, but I prefer problems that I can actually solve. Either of these vests would be just the thing. The first is small and boasts an adorable bird. It is available on etsy from Wearewere, who has other delightful things as well. The second one, insulated and with the charming applique of the skier, (oh how I love winter novelty) can be found here on ebay. But kiddos you need two or more items of Corduroy to hang out with the appreciators.
The Club itself sells artesanal corduroy ties. Membership brings you mysterious buttons showing a whale, whale being a homonym for wale which denotes the raised part of the corduroy fabric. Founder Miles Rohan modeled the club after the Elks and Shriners. Since none of the old males-only secret societies will have me, perhaps the Corduroy Appreciation Club will be more welcoming. Though it must be said that corduory is definitely something I would have much more of if I were male. It is a hearty fabric more often used in men's clothing. And it does seem to convey woodsy and enduring qualities. I hope to score a corduroy bow tie, and a 70s pinafore in corduroy.
The New Yorker wrote about the club back in 2005. Mr. Rohan went about ronin-style, chasing down dapper corduroy wearers to give them his card. By his own admission, the first ventures were failures. It wasn't until his girlfriend and now wife Jordana Furcht, a graphic designer, created snappier-looking cards and the whale logo, that the club took off. Ms. Furcht's designs are compelling. I can see how they made all the difference.
The Corduroy Appreciation Club hosts photogenic events (where it appears to be raining men) on days that are numerologically linked to warp and weft of corduroy's pattern. The last one was on 11/11/10. Of course the motherlode of corduroy dates looms about a year away on 11/11/11. So you've even got time to start a chapter in your home town, should it be sadly lacking in corduroy festivities.
I own only one corduroy item: A short taupe-colored jacket with a notched collar. It was just something my sister Kismet had lying around one cold afternoon when I was under-dressed. Never did I imagine that it would become a high rotation item and remain so for about 5 years. Yes, my wardrobe is so profoundly lacking in basics that the introduction of any practical item comes like a revelation.
The Corduroy Appreciation Club, however, has a profound distaste for velvet, which seems rather macho to me; men's clothing being as lacking in velvet as women's clothing is in corduroy. Though perhaps it is just the technique of creating cohesion with a common enemy. In what was probably a staged stunt at the last meeting, a velvet-clad interloper was ejected. The recent Corduroy Appreciation Club had sponsorship from Cotton, a hefty player if ever there was. There is a small chance that what looks like a secret society could become an extended cotton commercial, like those with Zooey Deschanel who is entirely too adorable for my taste (yes, I know I'm just jealous). See the corporate logo here.
Do I think the corduroy appeciatators are mere corporate shills. Not really. We are all corporate shills; some of us just don't realize it. There is no exit from consumer society. Create your own subculture all you like. If it attracts enough attention its trappings will soon be mass produced and, entirely divorced from context, sold in national chain stores. If you don't believe me, check out The Rebel Sell by Joseph Heath and Andrew Potter.
Of course the fabric closest to my heart at all times is polyester, but I don't think I could start a semi-secret society based on the enjoyment of it. Not even with the help of a crack graphic designer. Sad but true. Even people who wear polyester gear have a profound distaste for it. But if I could round up other polyester enthusiasts, I'd get Du Pont Chemical as my evil sponsor for sure. And I'd made Zooey Deschanelesque commercials where I'd cavort about wearing the miracle of science.