Let’s talk clothes!
Hi, my name is Joanna Joy Prescod . Social Uniforms is an initiative that I founded in 2014. Its main goals are to use clothes to call the past into the present through exploring the way clothes holds meaning and memory.
Through online and in person participatory activities social uniforms flips the conversation by centralizing stories that are often subordinated and marginalized.
I am a first generation Canadian. My family migrated from the West Indies. My experience as a child being raised by Caribbean parents inspired my interest in clothes. My mother had strict rules on what to wear when she was growing up (school uniforms and church attire), she applied the same rules and regulations to me. However, her desire to assimilate within Canadian culture also, gave me some freeway. My fondest memories as a child involves wearing jelly slippers, stealing my brother’s clothes, and wishing my mother would dress me like Moesha.
I created Social Uniforms because I was interested in hearing other clothing stories from 1st or 2nd generation kids like me , from individuals who travelled far to call Canada their home , from people whose family may have migrated from another country but has called Canada home for over 100 years or from marginalized people who family history spans back before Canada was even Canada.
I have studied fashion design many years ago and when I graduated, I realized that I wasn’t interested in creating a fashion line. Then, I thought “why not costuming?” and it ended up being an area that I loved and admired. When the hours made it hard to juggle other priorities, I moved into the retail industry and worked as a Visual Manager; dressing the store and mannequins. My experience with actors and shoppers made me more interested in the sociology and culture of dressing. I left my retail job and went back to school. I ended up studying Culture and heritage site management ( basically arts management). After graduating, I wanted to learn more about cultural theory ( I’m a big Roland Barthes and Stuart Hall fan) which lead me to studying Cultural Studies.
WHY SOCIAL UNIFORMS
Social Uniforms was birthed out of my love for material culture, my educational background and my work history in fashion, costume and retail. I realized that the power of story was left to trend forecasters, fashion ‘influencers’ and celebrities. I wanted to flip the clothing discussion by highlighting the personal stories of everyday people; the people who wear the clothes and the people who make it ( like my mother).
I want to continue the tradition of story and material culture; looking at clothes as a connector to history (memory), personal expression and resistance. Clothing has been a container that reinforces and resists ideologies linked to race, politics and social injustice. These clothing containers can be seen in everyday incidences, film, television, advertising and other forms of mass media. My work with Social Uniforms is to open up the various discourse that intersects with clothing to provoke questions and encourage discussions.
My “Social Media” Uniforms: