I've always liked to create memories with clothes. (In fact 'what was I wearing' is the main way my brain recalls life events.) However my clothing maintenance skills have never been as committed. I've worn a band t-shirt until riddled with holes, that I have tried to pass off as rock n roll rather than just lazy. And I've lost count of the number of shoes worn through sticky floored bars in my twenties until falling off my feet (Literally: A metallic Miu Miu stiletto once disintegrated complete with heel while in the work lift with my new Editor. Not my most stylish moment.)
I have had a longer relationship with this dress than my husband
This dress is probably my longest term relationship- around twenty five years, and originally vintage in the first place. It has been a constant through my marriage, three pregnancies, multiple style reinventions and travelled across the world with me. It's an old friend. And yet I remember my mother looking at me in total incomprehension when I said I wanted to 'try' and mend it. 'Buy a new one' was her response. Because it can be safely said that the classic wartime mantra ‘Make do and mend’ fell well out of favour during the capitalist eighties, nineties and noughties years of many of our youths: Buy less became buy more, and repair was replaced with ‘chuck it away and buy another.’ Even though (or perhaps because) our parents had lived through more frugal and homespun times, the idea of trying to maintain the life of our clothes was previously seen as almost distasteful.
The brilliant thing is that in this new sustainably minded world we don't have to use lack of clothes repairing skill as justification for chucking out and buying new. There are reams of talented people working more magic than most of us are able to conjure in the circular fashion arena: reviving clothes, from designer bags that have had one too many wines spilt, to knitwear the moths have got to, to over partied party shoes. Yes, an ethical well made item is 'worth' repairing more than a fast fashion sale rail piece. BUT if you love something it’s always worth maintaining it (remember the most sustainable clothes are the ones you actually wear) AND- with the recent news that big hitter on the luxury repair scene The Restory has gone into liquidation, there's something to be said for the low key home repair hack too. Here are ten suggestions to stop us all listening to our mothers.
Flora launched her sustainable knitwear brand in 2016 after working for Christopher Kane and House of Holland, and has been name checked by Vogue. Alongside in house knits she specialises in 'visible' mending: send her your damaged knit and she will give it a whole new life. She also produces videos and workshops to encourage us all to try visible mending ourselves.
2. DARNING AND EMBROIDERY
Daisy Marlow and Laura Johnson founded Make Nu with the goal of adding longevity and extra pizzazz to our existing wardrobes. Alongside regular repairs they specialise in ingeneious embroidery and patching of well loved but damaged pieces, working with teams of local embroiders, darners and seamers.
Too many nights lying under the table on a pub floor? (your handbag not you obvs) The Handbag Clinic is here to help: The mothership for luxury bag restoring was founded in 2013 from a family legacy of leather and fabric restoration, with 4 stores across the uk and one internationally. No restoration job is unachievable, plus they also provide a marketplace for resell of designer bags.
Based in Manchester but operating nationwide the Denim Doctor ( AKA Michael Pendlebury) has been featured in GQ Channel 4's 'This Old Thing'. Dealing with everything denim from zip repairs to entire bespoke jeans re-modeling, prices start at a very competitive £4.95. Send photos via email or social media for a quote and post for repairs. ( Also See FANFARE)
Image the denim doctor
Founded in 2021 by young entrepreneur Josephine Philips, Sojo has gained a reputation as the Deliveroo of clothing repairs, making alterations as easy as possible. . Access via the app, fill in the form, and post your garment off to be returned within 5 days. Sojo now partners with fashion brands including Ganni so we can ‘tailor when we shop and repair when the time comes’ ( See also THE SEAM)
Splendid Stitches founder Nana is a champion of circular fashion, and has been offering boutique pre 1980's bespoke vintage repair via post since 2010, using original vintage and deadstock haberdashery. The company now also offers repair services for ethical and sustainable independent UK brands.
Repair, Rewear and Recycle is Monica Vinader's mantra. Alongside a regular 5 year warranty that covers everything from replacing and resizing to restyling, a lifetime repair service is offered for a small fee, to maintain any piece for the duration of its life. Even simpler- all can be arranged online.
8. LUXE UPCYCLING
This ethical online marketplace has a new suggestion for premium clothing needing a revamp: have it magicked into something extra special by collaborating with a designer represented on the platform (including the likes of E.L.V Denim) Every designer is selected based on ethical credential and will customise or totally repurpose a bespoke piece for you. ( See also DESIGN BLENDER)
Established in 2015 by Glasgow trainer enthusiasts Al and Rob, the aim was to bring to market products to use at home to keep your sneakers in pristine condition. Now they also offer a postal service for sneaker 'laundering', restoring favourites to as good as new, plus have drop in sneaker laundry at four locations including Selfridges .
The new make do and mend ethos is finally sinking in with brands and consumers. Ethically minded clothing brands (seeToast, Eileen Fisher, Levi’s) and sustainable outdoor brands (the North face, Barbour Finisterre) are offering (often free) lifetime mending services for all purchases. Fast fashion is even getting on board (Zara and Uniqlo)
11. WASTE UPCYCLING
A custom re-work service, also selling unique upcycled clothing made in house, Re-considered's USP is it's waste upcycling offerings. Select an option from pyjamas, to a tote bag, send them an favourite duvet cover or pair of nostalgic curtains, and they will do the rest. Excellent for a quirky gift.
12. SELF LEARNING
And finally maybe it's time for us all to start educating ourselves. Repair what you wear is a comprehensive site and instagram account set up by a textiles teacher and ex fashion industry buyer- designed to impart proper teaching, from survival sewing skills to mending tears in jeans to elbow holes to shoes, with free tutorials and workshops.
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