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Defining trope: government enforcing clothes to being ultra-practical and possibly not wasteful

Setting: rebuilt post apocalypse

Climate: temperate, with capitol that thanks to good metro and underground connections is possible to stay indoor, while going from home to work and for some recreation

Technology: early 21:st century equivalent

Public nudity is technically speaking not forbidden; breastfeeding a baby, even in public, is encouraged;

Rather secular society, mostly from people with roots in western civilization. Serious about equal rights

Rather egalitarian society

Big share of vegan population, some of them may feel uneasy concerning using leather for clothes

Accessible government tools:

  • regulations concerning clothes for public employees, including politicians
  • regulations concerning school uniforms
  • values passed through public education
  • government owned media that dominate the market
  • regulations concerning health and safety
  • regulations concerning public health, like encouraging people to bike to work, and enforce that employers would be required to provide access to showers for office workers

If something is impractical and wasteful, but is not possible to show any health or safety threat, then government has no power to ban it in private setting; nevertheless it has the power to make the person look like an eccentric.

So the question:

How would such cultural approach modify the clothes that are being worn in comparison to clothes that are being worn right now?

The question asks only which things would be eliminated/introduced because of practicality, not any fashion

(my types)

  1. velcro instead of shoestrings and buttons

  2. no business suits / dresses, instead of this all formal clothes look like training suits, similarly looking clothes for both genders, such clothes are being considered as OK for all occasions

  3. high heel shoes are forbidden as too dangerous to be wore in public, are being allowed as erotic gadget

  4. no jewelry

  5. no changing fashion (at least claimed so, in practice presumably the millage would wary)

  6. no furs, no belts, but leather part of shoes would still remain

Do I miss anything?

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    $\begingroup$ Sounds so North Korea $\endgroup$
    – Mołot
    Nov 22, 2016 at 16:42
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    $\begingroup$ @Mołot I was not aware that North Korea has a large vegan population $\endgroup$
    – Kys
    Nov 22, 2016 at 17:43
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    $\begingroup$ @Kys I don't say they choose to be ones. But when you don't have meat... ;) $\endgroup$
    – Mołot
    Nov 22, 2016 at 20:40
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    $\begingroup$ I can't for the life of me figure out what's meant by "a planet of hats". Are the people magically-living hats? $\endgroup$
    – Deolater
    Nov 23, 2016 at 20:59
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    $\begingroup$ @Deolater tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/PlanetOfHats $\endgroup$
    – Shadow1024
    Nov 23, 2016 at 21:33

6 Answers 6

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What you're describing is a very restrictive culture, which is unlikely to last long. Humans love individuality, to the point where we will sacrifice practicality, and sometimes safety.

Any government trying to impose such strict restrictions on its citizens is going to have to deploy a sizable police force to enforce those rules.

Furthermore, such uniformity will be difficult to sustain in a scarce, post-apocalyptic civilization. Most people will be happy to have anything to wear, and not worry that the garment uses buttons as opposed to Velcro (which is not trivial to manufacture).

And not only that, but you are rejecting a relatively easy to obtain and abundant natural resource (leather), in favor of much more difficult to manufacture fabrics ... just seems silly to me.

The long and short of it is that you're already rejecting practicality.

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    $\begingroup$ Humans have been creating buttons since the Neolithic, they are far easier to create and require less resources than Velcro as you say. Stone and wooden toggles could also be used as fasteners which would be vegan. $\endgroup$
    – Sarriesfan
    Nov 22, 2016 at 17:01
  • $\begingroup$ I'm new to this forum, so correct me if I'm wrong, but aren't we only supposed to answer the world-mechanics question posed by the asker rather than provide notes on narrative? I don't think the proposed society is out of the question. We don't know that there isn't a large police force, though I don't see why that would be required. Quakers wear relatively homogenous dress without dictatorship, as part of their religious reverence for utility. Why not a non-religious cultural imperative? $\endgroup$ May 1, 2018 at 22:27
  • $\begingroup$ Also, leather is not an easily obtained and abundant natural resource. If the society is too large to rely on hunting, it must raise animals and grow food to feed those animals - this is more labor intensive than just growing flax or cotton. Not that historically, leather is more expensive than plant fiber textiles. $\endgroup$ May 1, 2018 at 22:28
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    $\begingroup$ @PinkSweetener - welcome to WB SE. In my answer I can choose to critique the premise of the question if I feel it appropriate (as it affects my take on the question being asked). I'll also have to disagree with you on leather. You can hunt a "wild" cow, skin it, and have enough leather to create some garments fairly easily, whereas growing/picking cotton in sufficient quantities, spinning it into usable thread, and then weaving cloth is far more involved. And hunting is going to be a major activity in any post-apocalyptic society. $\endgroup$
    – AndreiROM
    May 2, 2018 at 13:05
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    $\begingroup$ @AndreiROM got it, thanks for the clarification! OP states that technology is early 21st century equivalent. Also there's a government, people stay indoors a lot, and there's mass transit. We should probably confirm with OP to be sure, but it seems to me like this isn't a hunter gatherer society. $\endgroup$ May 2, 2018 at 14:30
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In our world today, textiles are a massive, pollution-intense industry rife with waste. Thing is, there's already plenty of clothing for everyone to wear, but fast-changing fashion trends produce mountains of unwanted (not even for donation!) clothing that is quickly replaced by mass produced, environmentally destructive new products. Sauce: http://www.newsweek.com/2016/09/09/old-clothes-fashion-waste-crisis-494824.html

Solution? Jump suits! Every jumpsuit is already a matching outfit, so you can maintain some level of variety while minimizing wardrobe redundancy. Areas prone to wear are reinforced with easily replaceable patches.

Color choice is also important. You want to avoid light colors that will become visibly sweat stained with time. You might also want to avoid bright colors. Non-synthetic dyes are very expensive and prone to bleed and rinse out in the wash. Meanwhile, the process for manufacturing synthetic dyes often creates more pollution than dye, oz for oz. Cheap, environmentally friendly colors that are dark enough to hide pit stains include earth tones, dark greens, and black.

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While I think people would quickly rebel against such strictures, a few things your government needs to consider:

Acceptably non-wasteful dyes. Before the aniline dyes of the Victorian era Western clothing was generally pretty drab; purple was reserved for royalty for a reason.

How much tailoring is acceptable. Saris, sarongs, Asian kilts (I don't know the generic umbrella term for all the ethnic and regional variants), turbans, cloaks, and simple robes require much less labor to produce than trousers, button down shirts, jackets, and other standard Western clothing.

What fabrics are suitably practical, and under what circumstances. (Silk, for example, is eminently practical when weight and thermal properties are most critical.)

Humans seem to have a built-in urge to decorate ourselves; how are you going to accommodate this? (One possibility: bland practical clothing with a personalized decorated sash added for fancy occasions.)

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Velcro is wasteful where simple cheap string (known as shoelaces) or anything on short string (known as buttons) would do.

Training suits are not designed to sit on one's bum for long. If anything, reinforced bottom on pants with pockets world make sense.

Jewelry is not a safety issue, if it's the last thing not forbidden, it'll be worn to show one's style. And it's not a waste if you can't really use these stones for anything else, right?

Leather would stay in use. Making vegans happy is worth less than survival of the human race.

By the way, you miss a fact that we avoid waste even now. It's costly. You can make your setting intentionally boring, because politicians are stupid. Not all of them, but enough for it to be feasible. But it will not be about savings and waste, not really. Even if that's what population is told.

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  • $\begingroup$ Why is leather necessary for the survival of the human race? Leather is expensive, and has been a luxury item in many cultures throughout human history. Also, the textile industry today is massively wasteful (see my answer). I'm not saying I agree with anything remotely similar to OP's world, but to say it's unfeasible for lack of purpose is plain wrong. $\endgroup$ May 1, 2018 at 22:30
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    $\begingroup$ Leather is currently, and for large part of human history was, a byproduct of meat production. It is also far cheaper than synthetic materials of similar durability and, in postapo scenarios, far more avaliable. Thus, in ppstapo scenarios, it is cheapest, easiest to get protective material that can be used for significant % of population, for example ones exploring ruins, looking for pre-war medicine etc $\endgroup$
    – Mołot
    May 2, 2018 at 7:05
  • $\begingroup$ OP states that technology is early 21st century equivalent. Also there's a government, people stay indoors a lot, and there's mass transit. Doesn't seem to be a hunter gatherer society. Also, if everyone is vegan, there won't be any meat industry byproducts. Vegetarian societies have strong historical precedent, so this all seems fine to me. I'm not sure why you jump straight to synthetics. Even in a less advanced society, plant-based textiles like flax and cotton are much cheaper to produce than leather. $\endgroup$ May 2, 2018 at 14:34
  • $\begingroup$ With leather, you have to grow plants to feed the animals to make the garment. With linen, you can just use the plants you grow straight away. $\endgroup$ May 2, 2018 at 14:34
  • $\begingroup$ @PinkSweetener If you want to convince OP that forcing veganism is a good thing, do it in your own answer, please. $\endgroup$
    – Mołot
    May 2, 2018 at 14:36
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The kind of apocalypse maybe important - a nuclear one? An ET invasion? A comet strike extinction event? A religious takeover of the entire world?

It'll determine what is left and can be used/salvaged.

The transport and practically "covered" cities scenario is somewhat similar to Asimov's "Caves of Steel" and "Prelude to Foundation". As far as I remember the clothes were more robes, kind of Star Wars like.

Since breastfeeding is encouraged, it naturally requires different style of clothes for mothers of infants. Some sort of a flap of opening for breastfeeding is more or less mandatory.

Rather secular society, mostly from people with roots in western civilization. Serious about equal rights

I am going to let this pass without comment (the seeming assumption of western civ with equal rights and secularism)

I don't think non-use of leather is valid - this thinking basically attributes reasons to veganism that are not truly the reasons to veganism. Vegans/vegetarians could use definitely leather from animals that died from natural causes - the whole idea to avoid causing "unnecessary" pain and suffering. Silk is definitely not an option, but leather, wool and any other hide is not a problem.

Regarding govt. powers on employees and schools - it is not a big deal. School uniforms are common even today (though different across schools). Having them same is not a problem. Same goes for employees. Points 3, 4 and 5 are also not uncommon even today - so it would have same affect as it does today.

Fur and belts would have to be in use - a slightly oversized pair with a belt would be more economic for a middle aged person. No? And fur, like leather and wool is easily and painlessly available. Instead of assuming no fashion, I'd be inclined to say that the changes in fashion would be very different from present day.

Hats, caps and other headgear can be done away with - they are not required for protection from heat any longer, and are purely ornamental.

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If your post apocalyptic society has the infrastructure to enforce any kind of dress code, then it very likely has the infrastructure to grow cotton or raise sheep for wool, neither of which would anger vegans (I believe). Most dyes would be expensive luxuries, so their textiles would likely be much more drab than ours, however.

If you can manufacture denim, then that would be the popular choice for the working class. Jeans and coveralls are durable, comfortable, and the opposite of extravagant, perfect for any kind of physical labor. Your white collars and politicians might also wear denim as a show of solidarity, or go with softer cotton pants, robes, or dresses. In winter everyone can layer on thicker wool cloaks or coats.

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    $\begingroup$ Vegans wear no clothing that is animal derived, only plant based or synthetic clothing. Many vegatarians do wear wool but not a vegan. $\endgroup$
    – Sarriesfan
    Nov 22, 2016 at 17:39
  • $\begingroup$ @Sarriesfan Ah, I thought it just revolved around eating/killing animals. Cotton would still work fine, though. $\endgroup$ Nov 22, 2016 at 17:47
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    $\begingroup$ Its okay @ FirstLastname it's a common misconception. $\endgroup$
    – Sarriesfan
    Nov 22, 2016 at 18:43
  • $\begingroup$ Likewise, true vegans can’t sit on antique furnature or listen to orchestral music because of the use of hide glue. Even shellac is an animal product, as is a common red dye. $\endgroup$
    – JDługosz
    Nov 24, 2016 at 8:10
  • $\begingroup$ @JDługosz Also a common misconception. Vegans don't eschew any contact at all with animal products - it's not like vampires and garlic. Rather, most vegans simply don't buy or consume products derived from animals, to avoid propagating industries that cause harm to animals. Sitting in a chair does not cause more animals to be harmed. Vegans have to do the best they can given the society they live in - holding them to absurd standards is a little unfair. $\endgroup$ May 1, 2018 at 22:35

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