August 4th, 2017
We grow up surrounded by clothes and objects, and sometimes our families share their stories on special occasions. I spoke with four people to find out why we carry certain objects and old clothes through life, and to understand if those items bring memories, nostalgia or tension in their families.
“When I was growing up, I was searching around me for new perspectives and I was drawn to certain things. I think it’s in my blood, my family had the same energy. For instance, I have intense feelings of connection for a country house, the one where I grew up in. Maybe for many people this is not a big deal, but for me it is because around it I can tell the story of our family forever.”
Jean’s father is a navigator who travels around the world. A mission at sea can last up to six months, but when he comes back home, he brings presents for the whole family. Jean remembers one of his father’s trips to US in 1995, because he came back with two special shirts. A Levi’s one and another one with an unknown label. His father wore them for about 15 years, then Jean followed his style and wore them for another 10 years.
Even now, he is wearing the Levi’s shirt almost weekly, although the collar and the sleeves are worn. For the second shirt he made some changes. He cut off the sleeves and a pocket. From family stories, Jean knows that his father had bought the items from people climbing aboard the ship to sell them, because the crew was not allowed to leave.
Two other shirts were given to him recently by his grandmother.
“It was a special moment for me, because the shirts were passed from generation to generation. The items were kept in my grandmother’s house, then my mom took them back and gave them to me when I celebrated my engagement with Bianca.”
Jean remembers that his parents wore them whenever they went on holiday. “I remember the colors of the shirts, a yard, a well. It’s strange that a bunch of clothes make you feel nostalgic and I am happy that I now have them in my house, I can look at them and tell their story to my fiance, to my friends, and in the future, to my kids.”
When his family left those clothes for him, he felt it was an important gesture, full of power and responsibility – to wear and carry the clothes through life and pass them on to the next generation, in order to keep the family stories alive.