August 11, 2022

All work is toile

Was drawn by an online discussion about timesheets and how some record extra hours as ‘Toil’ (to which someone close to me would lean in and say ‘well, it’s called work for a reason’.) And if you’re reading this, employers, I was engaged in some important R&D at the time.

Anyway, all distractions are welcome here, especially as my default MO appears to be to Jackdaw from one shiny thing to the next and back. It seems to work for me. It must annoying for coworkers. Especially as I should have been paying attention to a really neat collaboration with a workwear developer (it’s all work, etc. here right now) and we’re at that really exciting stage of getting to look at actual prototypes of the wardrobe that’s being designed for our clients.

Or rather, not ‘prototype’ – forgive me, sartorialists – but ‘toile’.

What a wonderful word. I’d completely forgotten about it, which I think I can forgive myself for. It’s been a good three decades since I worked anywhere near the fashion sector (lucky for the sector.)

A toile is “an early version of a finished garment made up in cheap material so that the design can be tested and perfected.” Can’t think of a better simile for almost all the things I do (including churning out this nonsense) but especially struck a chord, as a while back I worked with someone who coined (or at least claimed to have had) a neat metaphorical framework for visual languages – ‘brand wardrobes’ (the idea being along the lines of having different ‘outfits’ for difference audiences or occasions.

Recalling it now, I think it might still bear scrutiny. In fact, I’ll dig it out and see how kind time has been, to a style of thinking of the moment.

Meantime, perhaps next time you want a client to ‘try something for size’, send them the toiles over to see how they fit the bill. Invoice. Er, brief. Sounds so much nicer than a prototype.

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About Richard Hill

Creative director, writer, designer, illustrator based in the UK with global project experience and consulting skills across sectors.

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