A few months ago, while researching buttons, I had one of those moments that sends a shiver through your body. I twisted around to look at the bookshelf behind me and there, on the bottom shelf and tucked out-of-sight, sat a tin container gifted to me when I was a little kid. Its been sitting there for years. It had a layer of dust on it.
The tin is the type of thing thats unfindable these days – things like it are not made anymore. It has an intricate mosaic on its top and sides that does not feel machine-made. It was owned by my grandmother when she was a young woman in Holland and while I don’t know it’s story, I do know it has the words ‘Made in Holland’ on its bottom.
The tin is filled with a rainbow of old-smelling buttons. There are buttons made of shell, buttons made of glass, intricate metal designs, funny shapes, bright colors, pastels. They are not the ‘Made in China’ variety. They are of a different era.
There are strands of white blonde hair tangled in there. I’m not sure if they were hers or mine, long lost while playing as a little girl, but the feeling of past lives being with me, suddenly present after been forgotten for so long, made me feel a lot.
I didn’t know my grandmother – I was too young to appreciate our relationship before she passed on. I do know that she collected these buttons as a young woman and mother in Holland, saving them as she was too poor to buy new ones.
Rediscovering this collection, that was mindfully saved decades prior, made me sit there in the morning sun and cry. It reminded me of what I’m trying to achieve within my own work. It’s a hard thing to describe, but it feels most like a deep ache to create things that will have stories in stranger’s lives; to create things that will take on deeper meaning with time. It’s the desire to make a thing worthy of being saved and worthy of being found and cherished, decades later.
I’ve kept this tin with me for nearly 30 years, not knowing its purpose, but unable to leave it behind.
The buttons on our new Linen Pants (and several other upcoming styles) are from this tin. Each one has a story that will now continue on.