Images by Tamara Josephine Photography
Clothing Repair Advocate Renee Williams explains why learning to repair our clothing is a powerful antidote to Fast Fashion.
We are hearing more and more about the negative impact the overconsumption of clothing is having on our planet. On top of this, the amount of wear a single garment gets before being discarded is also decreasing. The good news is that there are some simple steps we can take to keep our clothes in great condition for longer. Being able to save your favourite jeans can be a new superpower with some simple tools and a little practice.
Why do we need to help our clothes last longer?
No doubt you have read some of the shocking statistics around our increasing consumption of clothing. The numbers are so large it is difficult to comprehend the scale. However, when Greenpeace tells us that the average person buys 60% more clothing than they did 15 years ago, this puts the issue into some perspective.
Wearing the clothes we own for longer is great for the planet. We are buying more clothing, per person, than ever before and the majority is ending up in landfills or being sent to the developing world, where these imports are decimating local garment manufacturing. Choosing our clothes more carefully and keeping those garments in great condition for longer are impactful ways that we, as consumers, can make a difference.
What impact can mending your clothes have?
By wearing our clothes for longer, they will inevitably need some small repairs along the way. This doesn’t need to be daunting, there are many simple repairs that can be done by hand, without the need for expensive equipment or years of experience.
While mending your own clothing is powerful and important, your impact is expanded when others take notice of what you are doing. Visible Mending is a growing trend and is a perfect entry point to clothing repair. It is simply mending that is not trying to hide. Best of all, it is simple to learn and requires little more than a needle and thread to get started!
Hidden benefits: what can mending do for you?
Taking the time to hand stitch a repair is a beautifully mindful way to spend an hour. As more of us decide to try a slower pace of life, the rhythm of mending lets the mind wander as the hands perfect their craft.
Mending is an investment of time, but also of hope and care. Once you invest, you will be rewarded time and time again with garments you love to wear. Not the least because your stitches add personality and tell a story.
There is something so satisfying about working with our hands and having the self-reliance to repair. A throw away culture is the only one many of us have ever known. However, once you learn to make simple repairs on your clothes, that sense of empowerment can flow on to other repairs and new skills.
And so, learning to mend can help save not only your clothes. The change of mindset it can bring is the one that can help us save the planet.
Renee’s top tips to get started
- Ask around – Do you know someone who could show you the mending basics? Maybe even lend you some tools and supplies to get started?
- Use what you can find – find a local or online mending class in your area. There are also some fabulous mending books, ask your local library.
- Reduce the stakes – start by mending something you are less invested in, for example a tea towel or your old pjs. That way you won’t become so disheartened if the stitches are a little wonky.
- Forgive a less than perfect result – your mending is supposed to look like it was stitched by hand. Hand stitching adds charm and personality to a garment and allows you to truly wear your values.
- Be bold – you can get the hang of this! Anything worth learning takes time and persistence. Your clothes are already damaged, so be bold and have a go!
Renee Williams is a clothing repair advocate and mending enthusiast based in Auckland. She teaches clothing repair workshops online and in person. She shares mending tips and inspiration on her Instagram account @thatperfecthour and on her website thatperfecthour.com.