derick melander: second hand (clothing) sculptures



(photos via derick melander)

you might just wear your secondhand clothing, but sculptor derick melander uses clothing cast-offs as an artistic medium, wherein the clothing itself is both a metaphor for people/individuals/society in general, and a means to create substantial structures with which one can react to and interact with. they very powerful pieces, visually, as well.


says he, in his own words, about his work:

“I create large geometric configurations from carefully folded and stacked second-hand clothing. These structures take the form of wedges, columns, walls and enclosures, typically weighing between five hundred pounds and two tons. Smaller pieces directly interact with the surrounding architecture. Larger works create discrete environments.

As clothing wears, fades, stains and stretches it becomes an intimate record of our physical presence. It traces the edge of the body, defining the boundary between the individual and the outside world.”


i love the statement he makes toward the end of the little film, above:

“who are the people who wore this [clothing]?”

something i constantly think about, since so much of what i wear and have worn, lovingly, over the years, has been secondhand.

i love to ponder where my clothing has been, where it came from, who made it, who wore it, what they did in that clothing, why they decided to part with it. so many things to ponder…it can make for quite a nice reverie, when the mind has an idle moment.

what about you? do you ponder where your things have been? is that aspect of wearing secondhand clothing attractive to you? why or why not?


  1. madam0wl

    Those sculptures are really cool! I do like the history and imagined personality of secondhand clothes, especially when I know for sure who had it before me, like my grandma’s stuff.

  2. Becky

    Amazing sculptures! I wrote an article on charity shopping on my own blog a while ago musing on a similar question. I really do love the idea of inheriting a fragment of someone else’s life, something which is so strong in a person’s identity and sticks with them loyally throughout life until the person decides to discard it. Funnily enough, I don’t feel the same way about jewellery, as things like necklaces and rings are so personal I’d have to buy them new!

  3. Mimi

    Tricia, if you haven’t already, you might want to pick up a copy of Fashion Projects #3, which just came out! This issue is on clothes and memory, inspired by a Peter Stallybrass essay on the same. It opens with this lyrical excerpt from the essay:

    In thinking of clothes as passing fashions, we repeat less than half-truth. Bodies come and go; the clothes which have received those bodies survive. They circulate though secondhand shops, through rummage sales, through the Salvation Army; or they are transmitted from parent to child, from sister to sister, from brother to brother, from sister to brother, from lover to lover, from friend to friend.

    (Peter Stallybrass, “Worn Worlds: Clothes, Mourning, and the Life of Things” The Yale Review 1993 vol. 81. no. 2, pp. 35-50)

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