Monday, 4 August 2014
subjectivity and icons
The recent Fall 2014 preview posted at Vogue Knitting (www.vogueknitting.com) sparked some instant emotion here... but not in the way the magazine editors likely want. There are many lovely things here, especially the Eileen Fisher sweaters. Unfortunately, the item that caught my attention is this one:
The caption above it states: "A sweater and shawl take inspiration from an American classic: the Hudson’s Bay Co. point blanket."
I am sure that the magazine has a host of researchers, writers, and editors on staff and wonder how a blanket that originated in Britain for trade in Canada via Hudson's Bay, and still made in England, can possibly be called "an American classic". I'm usually nonchalant about these things, but for some reason I am furious with Vogue about this.
Now, I'm first to admit that these were traded in North America with First Nations tribes who lived in Canada and the United States. The blanket, however, is synonymous with the Hudson's Bay Company. A decidedly Canadian corporation. History of this company's roots can be found at www.hbcheritage.ca This history includes an overview of the first trading posts and HBC's role in Canadian history: "For centuries Hbc was a network of remote outposts across this vast country called Canada. Forts and trading posts helped to unite a nation and in many areas have become key cities and towns." Later, the blankets were used as coats by the British during the War of 1812 when fighting AGAINST the United States.
I recognize that Canadian and American history overlaps, particularly in the early settlement years. The social, economic and political history of the fur trade, European settlement, First Nations peoples, and the HBC is complex and complicated. I'm not sure, though, that it can be called "American". I am sure that this issue won't be one that I'll be buying.
Edit: I added a comment on the Vogue group, and the copy editor replied to say they've corrected the text to say "North American" instead of "American". Great response (I wasn't the only one to comment), so I may purchase this issue after all!