of light and shadows
Why do we wear ties?
Why do we do the things we do?
Mike Williams searches for the extraordinary and hidden histories behind everyday objects and actions. In his program he looks at the paradox at the heart of the human condition - the desire to belong and to conform, but also to hold tight to our individuality. And we see a symbol of this paradox everyday in an apparently useless piece of clothing about 150 centimetres long - the necktie. Why do we wear ties?

What Makes us Want to Wear T-Shirts?
They’re something you probably see every day… maybe hundreds of them, thousands. Plain ones, coloured ones, funny ones. Often they’re promotional, sometimes provocative. They’re so common that they’re very easy to ignore.
From the catwalk to the building site and everywhere in between, these simple garments can be tools of the rebel, the protestor, the campaigner, the corporate marketeer. They are strangely powerful things… but with humble origins

Why do we wear Suits?
It’s a style of dress that’s spread around the world - the suit. It’s survived, largely unchanged, for the three centuries. But, where does it come from, what’s its appeal and what does it say about those who wear it? Mike Williams talks to fashion designer Paul Smith who wears one every day and to the author Jung Chang who had no choice but to follow suit during the Cultural Revolution in China

The Heel
Why do tens of millions of women all over the world choose to walk around on stilt like objects called heels?
Where did the fascination with elevated footwear come from and what do they tell us about class, power and sex?
It may surprise many to hear that high heels were first worn by….men

Why Does Everyone Wear Trainers?
Sneaker, trainer call them what you will. How did this product of the industrial revolution and a rising middle class become a global fashion item worth tens of billions of dollars a year? Especially when 85% of the purchases are never intended for its original purpose, health and fitness. Join Mike Williams for the Why Factor on Sneaker

Blue Jeans
From its early days as work-wear for gold-miners and cowboys in the US, denim has transcended its origins, becoming a global fashion item. Mike Williams explores the appeal of a pair of blue jeans and the history of this simple garment. Once a symbol of youth rebellion, it is now common around the world - worn by men and women, old and young. From cowboys to the catwalk, how did denim come to dominate?

Walk down any street in any town or city anywhere in the world and you’ll be bombarded by brands screaming out to be noticed. It’s the way businesses get us to believe in their product, and to ultimately sell us stuff, but where does this concept of brands and branding originate from, and why do we place such trust in belief in what they stand for?
Look at every product these days and you’ll see how branding works. From those double golden arches, to that little green fruit, to the small tick that urges us to just do it, everything now is designed in such a way that makes us believe in the power of the product, but why?
Journeying through the history of brands and branding, moving right the way through to the modern day, Mike Williams talks to those involved in branding. Is it an art? Is it a science? Is it a fair relationship, or do marketers have consumers at a disadvantage when it comes to getting us to believe in their product?

The Evolution of Beards
Why did beards evolve and what is the point of them? Evolution may have decided they make a man more manly and can attract the opposite sex but many women are divided in their opinion of the beard. In some religions and cultures a beard is sacrosanct whilst some societies remain hair free.
Should you shave them, trim them or grow them to extraordinary length. Mike Williams visits the world’s oldest barber shop to find out the secrets of a close shave and a tidy beard

The Shaved Head
Why do we care so much about the hair on our heads? Each year we spend billions of dollars on cutting, shaping and colouring our hair.
It's important for personal reasons, cultural and symbolic reasons too. But why? Find out, as we hear the stories of people who have had their hair taken from them

In this programme, Mike Williams asks why people have tattoos. Where do they come from and what do they say about us? From the Maori of New Zealand to the Mexican Mafia, Mike explores the universal motivation behind why people decorate their bodies with ink

For centuries perfume has been used to show status and wealth, for medicinal and for religious reasons and the global business is now worth tens of billions of dollars a year. So why do we still perfume ourselves? What image are we trying project when we use a fragrance that emanates from our bodies and permeates the air? Mike Williams talks to a historian, an archaeologist, a 'nose' and a business analyst to find out. He also learns how to make Eau de Cologne

It is an essential part of women’s days all around the world – putting on their face before they leave the house. This week Mike Williams explores why millions of women and some men paint their faces.
The programme delves back into history to look at why it was worn in the past and how this has shaped what we do today. He looks at the rise of the makeup industry and how it has struggled to overcome cultural and biological boundaries particularly when trying to sell to men.
He asks whether the sheer scale of the make-up industry is driven by marketing or if there are more, innate biological reasons for the practice – a desire to look attractive and powerful

From sub Saharan Africa to the west coast tribes of Canada to the Mardi Gras of Rio, New Orleans and Venice, masks define realities - of religious belief, of healing power, of theatre and entertainment, of concealment and of memorialisation in death. They have been around as long as humanity and they evoke both fascination and fear. Mike Williams traces the power and culture of masks and asks why we have them and what they mean for u

Portrait Photography
From the first photographic portraits captured in the 1830s to the “selfies” of today, we seem fascinated by images of the human face. Mike Williams asks if it is simple vanity or something deeper; perhaps an attempt to learn how other people see us or a desire to capture something of ourselves that may live on when we are gone

Female Body Hair
Why do so many women feel the need to get rid of their body hair? Why is it fine for a man to sport hairy legs, but unthinkable for most women?
It’s a sensitive subject - touching on ideas about female sexuality and gender politics that stretch back almost to the beginning of time

We are all born naked, yet there is a taboo about displaying naked bodies in public. Societies around the world have established conventions about who may see what, when and where. So why does the naked human form provoke such strong reactions?
A fully-clothed Mike Williams visits a life drawing class, speaks to the founder of a topless protest group, and hears from an academic about how the former East German government tried, but ultimately failed, to ban public nudism

Cross Dressing
Why do men cross dress? Mike Williams interviews Helen, a London Underground train driver, Peter a detective novelist - who prefers dressing as Penny - and Peter’s wife who helps to choose the clothes and decide Penny’s look. He talks to the artist Grayson Perry about the relationship between his art and cross dressing. He also poses the question why is it that western society accepts men in kilts, priests in cassocks but has issues with men in skirts?

Each day billions of us look into a mirror without giving it a second thought but do we really understand what we’re seeing?This week, Mike Williams explores the science and history behind the mirror and hears about the myths and mysteries of this everyday object

@темы: English, Listening, Podcasts, Why Factor