maya kotomori forever

Where Did The G(Love) Go?

An investigation into the dying art of the glove.


mayakotomoriforever is a monthly column about fashion, style and why they’re two separate practices. Each installment, Maya presents self-reported and researched-to-the-9s information about real people, concepts, and opinions.

My ego lives in a world without the Internet. She dresses every day in styles cobbled together from fashion plates, she doesn’t check Instagram, she covers her knees not out of modesty, but as a statement. While she may not live in the real world, I do, and I aspire to be more like her. More than that, I wonder where wonderment went. It feels as though we live in a time where the world wide web has stolen our basest need to adorn for the adoration of form, both of the body and of fashion as an interpersonal craft. I think of the glove as a tool and a garment, and I mourn what feels like the loss of glamor today at the hands of the hyper-convenient eWorld that the Internet has created.

Gloves are not a commonplace fashion accessory anymore: opera length, driving, or bondage-style latex, whimsical gloves are a dying garment. When we went from flip phones to touch screens, gloves became more of a nuisance than a statement of glamor, and in the same way smartphones all became rectangular monoliths, our hands have either gone unadorned or worse: clad in touch-screen compatible gloves, which only come in highly practical, functional colors and fabrics.

Gloves might seem like a garment of yore, but with the new prominence of ChatGPT and newer, smarter AI trained algorithms, we’re seeing more and more people reject the highly optimized practical world the Internet has created in favor of an Internet-informed wonderland where romantic garments like gloves rule. This is where I live, compromising with my ego, who would gladly see it all burn. Unlike the iPhone, gloves’ obsolescence wasn’t planned. It’s emblematic of how we dress today. What we wear must be compatible with our technology. Glamor must remain impractical. I predict the glove is going to stay, because as we advance as a society , we remember how fun impracticality is, and why it can never die.

“I think of the glove as a tool and a garment, and I mourn what feels like the loss of glamor today at the hands of the hyper-convenient eWorld that the Internet has created.”

Where do gloves come from? Like a lot of adornment, gloves can be traced back to ancient Egypt. In that time, they looked more like little pockets, had no protrusions for fingers and the thumb, and were a status symbol for pharaohs and nobles, often made of gazelle hides. In ancient Greek and Roman tradition, gloves were used for both royal signaling as well as a practical garment for the layman in the colder months. Later, in the Middle Ages, gloves were also used as a tool for knights in battle, as well as falconers dealing with the birds’ sharp talons. During the Renaissance period in Europe, gloves evolved into a more universal status symbol, and took on a specific role as a feminine garment.

Soft hands were a peak trait of high society femininity at this time, and women of status would wear silk gloves as a part of their daily dress to highlight this, wearing leather and fur-lined gloves for different high society activities depending on weather, like riding horseback or taking a stroll in the cold. At the same time, your everyday woman who performed manual labor would wear gloves to hide how marred her hands were from using them to work. These gloves were typically knit and/or made of low quality hides, and were reserved for the special occasions of the masses, like going to church. Dress studies from the Renaissance also point to the rest of the unwashed masses wearing different permutations of mittens for necessity, like extreme weather and necessary occupations, like metalsmithing.

1. Imperial Roman Glove, pre AD 1220, c:o Testile Research Centre copy.jpgImperial Roman Glove, AD 1220. Courtesy of the Textile Research Centre.

The gloves we know from the modern period take on more of a broad-spectrum idea of etiquette. In the 18th and 19th century, gloves remained a symbol of wealth and status, and became so necessary to one’s public fashion performance that to not wear gloves was gauche. This social etiquette extended into the personal, where it was even considered impolite to remove one’s gloves outside the privacy of the home. Ever seen a cartoon character slap an assailant with their gloves? It comes from a tradition of European upper-class men challenging each other to duels, a sophisticated challenge with a rule that both men must use the same weapon, rather than the more lawless tavern brawls of the time. That’s how quickly gloves adapted into the modern period, and later, the contemporary.

2. elsa schiaparelli gloves, 1938, c:o v&a collection.jpgElsa Schiaparelli gloves, 1938. Courtesy of the V&A Collection, England.

Beyond the glove’s place in 20th century cartoons, as industrialization came to blur class distinction, the glove became less of a tool to identify class, but to identify “cool.” Icons like Prince, Cyndi Lauper, and like, half of DeBarge recontextualized the glove as an alt accessory in the 1980s, with lace, pleather, fishnet and various other synthetic materials in equally synthetic colors. With a free economy came the free explosion of gloves – more than they signified wealth or status, they signified identification with subgroups as more of a social identity than a fiscal one, and were a choice rather than an obligation in larger sociality.


You’d see a glove here and there in the early aughts, but with the prominence of touch screens alongside the later iPhone-ification of the world, gloves became a true rarity. The haptic basis of early touch screens was pressure, and later touch screen iterations were based on physical touch, meaning a glove would hinder the ability to interact with technology. This is what rendered the glove-as-accessory obsolete, because practically, who wants to have to take fabric on and off their hands to use their phone? We’ve seen the glove evolve to the days of ancient Greece, where the masses mainly use gloves when weather deems necessary. Even for those occasions, companies have invented weather-proof gloves with touch screen-compatible finger pads, so we literally never have to sacrifice convenience.

“You’d see a glove here and there in the early aughts, but with the prominence of touch screens alongside the later iPhone-ification of the world, gloves became a true rarity.”

This is a tenet of the destruction of glamor, an impractical phenomenon, that goes beyond the glove as well. Don’t want to think of an original paper topic? ChatGPT can do that for you. Don’t want to do your video editing job? With Elon Musk’s Neuralink, your brain can interface directly with the computer, so you never have to lift a finger.

While these advancements point to the development of humans as we create new technology, they don’t correlate with progress, on a felt level. What I mean is that physical strides taken forward with technology doesn’t mean that society progresses. These rapid advancements could actually point to a sense of alienation among certain factions who’d rather slow down. Look at the Luddite teens of Park Slope, or all of those print-only publications that recently cropped up in Downtown Manhattan. At this point, our advancement via technology pushes a select few backwards, not in a derogatory sense, but to force this rapid progression to take a bit of social inventory before implanting microwires in our brains (literally, Neuralink is terrifying).

The glove, I think, is the chicest way to proclaim an identification with times predating such a technologically dependent world. To me, a bicep-length silk opera glove is worth more than my ability to interface with my iPhone while out and about. I think we all need to ask ourselves these questions more when it comes to the development of fashion, style and dress when it comes to tech, ideally picking a garment of yore to identify with.

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