Fit or Fabric? Choose yr FIGHTER

Turbo-Mode COLOR TALK w/ Edith Young + profound jawn ethics + more unbeatable recon

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— Jonah & Erin

If you had to distill The Blackbird Spyplane Effect into 4 words, you could do worse than “expanding people’s minds…beautifully” — the exact thing we do every time we smash send on the sletter.

Our mind-expanding practices take millions of forms, among them 1) responding to reader questions with profound “Spyplane Holy Decrees,” and 2) talking to cool EXPERTS about dope s**t they know.

Today? We do both of the above, in that order.

FIRST UP — a couple burning Qs about life, love and the jawn sciences, from our “unbeatably inquisitive” readers…

1) “Fit or fabric? Choose one over the other” — @rforee

📜 Spyplane Holy Decree 📜

The “correct” answer here is probably fit — any #menswear dude worth his double monkstrap derbies will tell you that a $6,000 fine-wool Italian suit that hasn’t been well tailored will look HELLA HOMELY next to a $300 suit that’s been carefully dialed into yr dimensions.

But the more interesting answer, as we see it here in late 2021, is FABRIC, baby. Well-fitting jawns cut from sh*tty fabric might hoodwink onlookers in photos, but I.R.L. a high-quality fabric is gonna catch the light in more pleasing ways than a mids fabric will — this is a difference people can register from across the room, catching warm beams from your f**king aura that let them know you are operating on a higher level of SAUCE, even if they absorb this unconsciously. A nice fabric will age more beautifully than a mids fabric, too, and will hang off yr body in subtly yet perceptibly different ways, meaning that on some irreducible molecular level a sh*ttier fabric will necessarily fit worse than a nice one…!?

What’s more, we’re in something of an anti-fit / anti-tailoring moment right now, where looseness and voluminousness are what’s up (we talked about this a bit in our blockbuster recent post about “How to Wear Real Clothes Again”), and where Mach 3+ jawns enthusiasts by and large do NOT want their fits to look remotely fussy. What they DO care about are “easy breezy” factors like movement, drape, comfort, and lush tactility — HIGHLY FABRIC-DEPENDENT FACTORS!

Obviously you don’t want a jawn to fit you poorly, and it’s not as though a trained tailor’s hand never touched those luxuriously flowy archetypal late-‘80s / early-‘90s Armani fits that look as good as ever these days.

But real talk, the mere physical sensation of GOOD fabric DANCING and PIROUETTING ELEGANTLY against yr skin can make you so much happier, moment-to-moment, that it winds up infusing your entire gestalt with joyous swag — much the same way that dozing in freshly laundered SLUBBY ORGANIC-LINEN SHEETS can be more deeply restful than PLAYING YOURSELF in some “satiny” IK*A joints that YOUR EPIDERMIS HATES YOU for copping, on some false economy s**t 😉. So pay more attention to fabric!!

2) “What’s your stance when it comes to products from major brands like Nike or Adidas, where it’s nearly impossible to vet or completely trust the conditions their products were produced under? Does it come down to cognitive dissonance, or is there some much bigger picture stuff going on? Much love” —@fooleoo

📜 Spyplane Holy Decree 📜

Much love back to you, and to all thoughtful members of SpyNation. The short answer boils down to cognitive dissonance. As you point out, global supply chains of all kinds are notoriously hard to vet — definitely if you’re a customer, and even if you’re some putatively more-empowered “industry observer” / state regulator.

The MORAL MURK of mass production is a huge part of the appeal of “buying small,” of course, where you can at least imagine that the making of a jawn involved less exploitation… But the broad Spyplane refrain on questions like these is that even though it’s important and meaningful to observe a personal ethical code, U shouldn’t mistake principled purchasing habits for actual world-bettering action. Quite the contrary, focusing over-much on individual principled behavior can have the effect of flattering yr sense of righteousness while leaving macro-level systems unexamined and unchallenged — and, in a counterproductive way, it can just leave you HOUNDED by inexhaustible senses of futility and guilt, which are not in themselves very productive feelings!

It’s 2021 and these global-supply-chain fatcats are still on that Industrial Revolution demonic-style “F**K THEM KIDS” wave (among other demonic waves) …

For instance, Erin and I love vintage joints and small makers and we try to steer clear of “fast fashion” because those jawns tend to be trizzash and to involve ecological atrocities and human-rights abuses up and down the supply chain… Similarly, we try to keep mostly vegetarian because factory farming is a cruel abomination… But if my goal is the end of fast fashion or factory farms (and the carbon emissions associated with both) then the question of what I do or don’t buy is, to quote Alex Press talking about Am*zon boycotts here a few weeks back, “just a drop in the bucket” — meaning that it poses no meaningful threat to, and offers no real remedy for, systemic world-worsening forces.

There was a cool piece in T Magazine by Ligaya Mishan last year about the state of contemporary food activism, containing the following quote, which strikes me as extremely pertinent when it comes to copping all kinds of s**t across the marketplace in addition to food:

“The belief that we will change things through individual market choices is a way of not questioning the market itself,” says Eric Holt-Giménez, 67, an agroecologist and the former executive director of the Oakland-based think tank Food First. “We tend to concentrate on the romantic — the small farmer growing organic vegetables — when all this time we could’ve been fighting for parity and antitrust laws.”

Put another way, powerful people who are invested in preserving the status quo want us to conceive of our political power as FULLY CO-TERMINOUS with our “consumer power” — because consumer power is ultimately illusory and thoroughly co-opted from the jump !!

The ONLY EXCEPTION to this is how paying Blackbird Spyplane virtually next to nothing for a Cla$$ified Tier subscription is a powerful and blessed political act.


Edith Young GORPED UP at the Met (rocking her mom’s ’94 Lillehammer edition Columbia jacket from when she was a Sports Illustrated reporter) about to head inside and PEEP MAD COLORS!!

Writer, artist, photographer and Spyfriend Edith Young has a new book out TODAY called Color Scheme, organized around gridded color palettes she’s created over from a range of art-historical and pop-cultural sources: Paul Thomas Anderson’s moviesDavid Hockney’s swimming poolsPrince’s concert outfits … the hues goes on.

Her palettes are funny, surprising, and extremely satisfying to behold — so the other day Erin hit up Edith on the Spyphone for some turbo-mode “color talk.”

Blackbird Spyplane: One of the pleasures of this book is seeing something in it that I’ve seen a bunch of times before — whether it’s movies by P.T. Anderson or Dennis Rodman’s ‘90s-era dye jobs — but stripped down to the component colors. How do you tackle these palettes?

Edith Young: “It’s about coming up with the idea, then digging in. With Dennis Rodman’s hair, I did a lot of photo research, and made these really organized folders that I arranged chronologically. That one was hard, because occasionally he’d do these multi-color dyes, and in those cases I picked the one color that felt most representative of him in that moment.”

Blackbird Spyplane: I could see that being a bit of a mindf**k once you’re zoomed in on the zillions of pixels that make up an image, there must be this fear of losing the forest for the trees...

Edith Young: “Color is so wiggly. With paintings, I always try to start with a museum-quality photo, the one that’s the most white-balanced and so on, but even then there will be 2 differently colored pixels next to each otherhow do you choose the one to extract for the palette? Neither pixel is untrue, but I’d go with the one that felt more reflective — the one that best resembles what you remember when you walk away from a painting.”

Blackbird Spyplane: A lot of your palette ideas are funny, because they point our attention to unexpected places. I especially like it when you get hyper-specific, like, compiling the different greens of garnishes in Wayne Thiebaud food paintings. There’s an implicit point there about how art often draws us in — sometimes it’s just that bright little cornichon on a plate that captures yr attention and makes you fall in love with a piece.

Charles Burchfield’s “The Woodpeckers”, left … my man had a vibey~sPoOoKy style. At right is Edith’s “The greens of garnishes in Wayne Thiebaud’s still-lifes” (a print of which is coppable from her here.)

Edith Young: “Yeah, Charles Burchfield’s painting ‘The Woodpeckers’ (above left) is another good example of that. Those little violets that look kind of like Alice in Wonderland, but better, and the little woodpecker at the top — these things totally enamor you to this loony-looking painting.”

Blackbird Spyplane: Burchfield is some trippy s**t! You call out a few fashion brands in the book, including Marimekko, the Finnish pattern gods. What’s a contemporary line you think might make for a good palette?

Edith Young: “I mean, we could say Bode and move on. But Laura Ashley would be funny. And different Patagonia fleeces over the years come to mind, too — that would be interesting to try and map out.”

Blackbird Spyplane: O snap that’s such a great idea that Jonah just busted open the Adobe Creative Suite & whipped up a lil version! Was there a palette you tried that didn’t work out?

Edith Young: “I tried to do one about the different pinks of hot dogs in Safdie Brothers movies, and I made this little list, of like, the double-fisted hot dogs in the opening scene of Daddy Long Legs — I thought it would be funny to make the swatches really long rectangles, instead of squares. But the colors came out a little too muddy.”

Blackbird Spyplane: In your book’s opening essay you mention a few color-palette-related objects you’ve amassed over the years — a great example of having beneficial collector-brain-worms — and one of my favorites is the 1973 Jeep ad you found of with a grid of exterior colors. Shout out to No. 431 — “AVOCADO MIST.”

Edith Young: “I found this on eBay! It’s a splashy Jeep ad on one side, and the other side has this palette of color options.

“By the way, treasures await anyone looking for cool auto literature in this eBay shop.”

☮️ You can cop COLOR SCHEME here or here and follow Edith on IG here.

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☮️ Our “Master Jawn Index” — a running guide to earth’s greatest under-the-radar pieces and designers — is here. Our gem-stuffed Blackbird SpyMall is here, our Profound Essay Archive is here, and our intel-heavy Cla$$ified SpyTalk chat room is here.