Fashion Beginning to Mend Its Ways
When it comes to fashion and appearance, visibly repaired or mended pieces stand out. What was once a sign of frugality; that well-worn, loved-to-death look, is now on-trend. What makes sense and warms the heart of every ethical or self-styled sustainable fashionista (visible repair) is popping up in numerous forms: offered by brands for their own merchandise, by for-profit repair services, at “clinics” staffed by volunteers, and executed by consumers (I prefer “citizen repairers”), themselves. Not to be left out, mainstream fast fashion brands can also be seen following the trend, peddling ‘faux repairs’ but here’s our list to authentic, sustainable mend trends.
Repair by Brands
It may not be mainstream yet, but some notable brands, like Nudie Jeans, are offering their customers “repair for life.” I saw this in action myself and was impressed both by the commitment of the company and their customers.
Atelier & Repairs, with operations in L.A. and London, say they don’t design; they listen. Kate Montana, Project Manager for the one-year-old enterprise, explains it this way: “Each piece kind of tells us what it needs.” Call it upcycling if you like, but Maurizio Donadi, the driving creative force behind A&R and a 35-year fashion industry veteran, felt he had to address the excess he saw. By offering high-end, repaired garments rather than producing new, he could provide another option in sustainable fashion.
Think of them as equal opportunity, professional repair services. These are shops (few in number but growing) that will fix just about anything for you. Luckily that usually includes clothing.
“Out of all the services offered at each of our events, clothing repair and alterations always had the highest demand,” RepairRevolution founder Jamie Facciola recalls. “Loads of people love their clothes, and they are willing take good care of them.”
The repair clinic model is volunteer-based, where old-timers and others fix your stuff during a one-day event, typically held at a library or other community space. (And they can fix more than clothing. Bring in your broken toaster too!) Fix-it Clinic founder Peter Mui says they’re adding more textile repair to their events all the time.
Boro may not yet be a household name, at least not in the U.S. A traditional Japanese mending technique with a history stretching back centuries, boro has a super cool look. I took a boro workshop myself this past June at FIT, lured by the promise of learning something utilitarian yet creative. By the time I got home, I was looking for holes in my clothes, just so I could fix them!
The original practitioners of boro were Japanese peasants, who were simply trying to keep their garments going longer. According to Kenta Watanabe and Sayaka Toyama, co-founders of Buaisou Brooklyn (who taught the FIT workshop), some items of clothing were patched and passed down over multiple generations. Boro wasn’t considered an art form until quite recently. But there’s no doubt about the admiration it receives these days. Search on “boro” and “visible repair” on Pinterest, and you’ll see some awesome examples, old and new.
So buy from a brand that will repair for free, take your clothes to a repair professional, show up at a repair clinic, or do it yourself! Just keep those clothes in circulation. It’s the most sustainable thing going … and going … and …