Thursday, August 07, 2008

How the Internet Inspired DIY

One of the biggest crafty areas in the nation is not the middle of Kansas, like you might expect, although there are undoubtedly many crafty people there doing crafty things. Nope. It's the cities. Like San Francisco and New York cities. Okay, so that isn't a scientific fact, but you may have noticed that craftiness in all forms is growing, especially among young people.

Fashion currently reflects this trend to DIY. Unique screen-printed T-shirts dominate the market now and if you can't afford to buy one from an obscure designer (thus, garunteeing that you get something unique), you can buy some that looks unique from Target. Hoodies are decorated with unique, bizzare, and DIY-looking prints. And shoes (case in point: Converse Chuck Taylor All-Stars, Vans, and Keds) are covered in what appears to be puffy paint from the 80's and spray paint.

All of this comes at an interesting time when we've moved beyond vintage (which was huge when I was in high school and continues to be big) into flat-out recycling and restyling of clothes. All the talk of gas prices, the environment, and economic downturn is causing people to shop cheap, freecycle, and just plain figure out a new way. This is leading people to restyle old clothes or try to alter them in some way to keep them lasting a little longer.

Being an all-around crafty person myself and perpetually inspired to create my own versions of everything I see in the stores, I search online for tutorials for things I don't already know how to do or can't figure out myself. But I started noticing that, recently, the number of people DIYing fashion and restyling clothes seems to be increasing. I knit and knitting increased HUGELY in the last 10 years or so. Now, I sew and my mother, who's sewn all her life, tells me it's growing. I see evidence of this everywhere I look.

This brings me to my point: the Internet has led us into the DIY age. And, not for the reasons you think. You think I'm going to say because it's helped us find tutorials and people of like mind, right? You think I'm going to say because the information is available to us now. But, I'm not. Sure, that stuff helps, but the real way the Internet has led us into the DIY age is not because it's social. Because it IS DIY.

The Internet taught us that anyone can become famous or rich overnight simply by posting a video of themselves doing something stupid or by creating an Internet start-up that becomes a billion dollar company. We repeatedly see people becoming famous or starting businesses and making money using this tool. Web 2.0 takes this a step further. Now we can all blog. Any of us can write a blog on Facebook or Blogger or Typepad and people might read it--people we know and maybe even strangers. We might even become well-known for it. Any of us can make a video and post it on YouTube for the world to see. Anyone can write reviews on Amazon or Yelp and read those of other average people to get their opinion before they try or buy.

Do you see where I'm going with this? Since the Internet regularly rewards average people for both making and using/buying/reading things from other average people, why not extend this to fashion and other DIY areas, too? We can make a blog others will read, why not make our own T-shirts and T-shirts for our friends as well? We can make a YouTube video for the world to see (or just our friends and family) --why not try turning that old shirt into a handbag? Now, you go around to your friends saying, "Oh yes, check out my blog" as well as "Here, check out this bag I made." All around, it's DIY.

And, who is more active on the Internet in these DIY ways? The youth! The young urban professionals, the college students with no money, and the high schoolers who want to stand out. And, who exactly is getting into DIY and crafts more, I ask? The youth! Where do the youth live and gather and buy stuff? The cities! It all makes sense!