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Visible mending

All Areas > Health & Beauty > Vintage & Sustainable Fashion

Author: Lynda Rowland, Posted: Wednesday, 23rd October 2019, 13:00

‘Keep Calm and Carry On’ is a wartime slogan we have all got used to seeing on greetings cards, mugs and t-shirts, but another phrase we should probably revive is Granny’s old favourite ‘Make Do and Mend’.

It is a message which could keep clothes away from landfill for as long as possible and is becoming very popular in the sustainable fashion movement – but this time with a twist!

The Japanese arts of Sashiko and Boro are at the forefront of ethical fashion pioneers’ minds. Sashiko translates as ‘little stabs’ and is very closely related to the old western practice of darning, using simple, yet neat, running stitches. However, the visible mending trend involves using contrasting coloured thread and highlighting your ‘mend’.

In other words, make your mistakes beautiful and, instead of discarding a torn, worn or moth-damaged garment, make a feature of the rip or hole, in the process creating your own unique, customised item.

This way of extending the life of clothing works particularly well on quality fabrics and knitwear so, rather than just keeping an old sweater or shirt for gardening in, you could bring a garment back to life as an individual, special occasion piece.

Don’t limit yourself to simple stitching – create a real focal point with embellishment, embroidery, applique, ornamental stitches, braiding or beading, and have fun creatively highlighting your mending rather than trying to disguise it!

The Japanense Boro technique involves patching. Like Sashiko, it was traditionally used on indigo fabrics and works very well on jeans and denim jackets. Under the umbrella term of ‘upcycling’, both these techniques breathe new life into old clothes and turn mishaps into art. Almost like scars on our skin, we can look at these one-time flaws as badges of honour which tell their own stories of the lives our clothes have lived alongside our own.

This sustainable approach showcases the intrinsic durability of good quality, ethically sourced clothing, as it can have a vastly extended life once mended, re-worked, embellished or customised, highlighting its superiority over mass-produced fast-fashion. Aim for quality over quantity and buy less, but buy better.

One small ethical UK brand were so horrified by the fact that some manufacturers routinely throw away or incinerate millions of pounds worth of unsold stock that they resolved to upcycle some of their own garments that had not sold well.

Instead of writing off the stock, Lowie, who are based in South East London, tweaked their design, added some new features, consulted with their team of skilled fabric workers and, rather than producing a whole new range, gave the garments a makeover for the new season.

This is a truly admirable antidote to the fast-fashion ethos and an example many other labels would do well to follow.

So, make-do and mend, re-make and re-model and turn your wardrobe into a unique and sustainable collection which will make you both look and feel good!

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