Hospitals are reporting a sharp rise in the number of cuts and lacerations they treat which result from injury by wicker clothing. The recent interest in outfits made from bits of old twig might seem rather strange but fashion has never been slave to mundane concepts like comfort and practicality.
Wicker clothing is typically cumbersome, scratchy and, as medical services can verify, often dangerous. Among the more common injuries such as rashes, cuts and inflammation, there are more serious incidents. The punctured lung of a man in Doncaster was attributed to carelessly putting on his wicker shirt as he got ready for work. Other cases have involved head wounds from wicker hats, someone who lost an eye to a pair of raffia trousers and one occasion involving a man who was strangled by a wicker tie (although the exact circumstances of this last case are questionable, as there is reason to suspect that the tie was possessed .
It's not surprising then that there have been calls for wicker clothing to be labelled with safety warnings, or even banned altogether. But amid these concerns, sales are steadily increasing. And why? Well, for one thing, wicker clothing has become something of a status symbol, largely because of how expensive it is. The manufacturing process cannot be automated, so a wicker cardigan or waistcoat has to be knitted by hand. And for really exclusive items, the raw materials are gathered from unmanaged woodland, and are not washed or treated. The signs of a really top quality wicker overcoat are if it's caked in mud and dirt, and crawling in beetles.
All of which means that our medical services are likely to be kept busy for some time to come. But this is no surprise to most doctors and nurses. They are used to the demands placed on their time by the exigencies of fashion, as those who lived through the inflatable underpants craze of the early nineties will most assuredly attest.