The Philosopher’s Jumper

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Fashion has largely been abandoned to pretension, eccentricity and frivolity. But clothes can play a very serious role in life. A vital function of clothes is to show that you belong to a particular tribe. They can tell others who we want to be, what we admire and what we consider important. Clothes are eloquent. They take their place alongside language as a key tool of self-communication. They show the connection between our appearance and the way we think; they allow us to reinvent ourselves, bond with others and function as uniform, armour or disguise.

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Finding a good identity has always been important to philosophers. One item in particular has taken pride of place in the wardrobes of philosophical figures as diverse as Herbert Marcuse, Iris Murdoch, Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre: the black jumper. Since 1953, when the German philosopher Martin Heidegger bought one in a shop in Hamburg, it has been more or less impossible to claim to be a serious, thoughtful and sincere person of the mind, without owning at least one black jumper. 

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The Philosophers’ Mail therefore thought it appropriate to design an item of clothing, in collaboration with Bella Freud, that invites us to share in the philosophical life. The Philosopher’s Jumper has a clear identity: it signals a commitment to simplicity and thoughtfulness. It seeks reason and timelessness; it says that we should care about things which last, and not chop and change our enthusiasms according to the whims of public opinion. The jumper argues that minimalism is a key concern in a crowded and busy world: it means efficiency without loss of grace.

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