2022 – Revolution Takeback: How ‘Make Do and Mend’ Became a Fashion Statement | fashion

eIn early 2020, Claire Caterall, Senior Curator at Somerset House, London, began exploring the potential of an exhibition on reform. Inspired by the proliferation of social media hashtags #visiblemending, #mendingmatters, and pop-up fix cafés, I’ve noticed a new generation of frugal fashion designers looking to preserve clothing using traditional styles and contemporary creativity.

“The interest in the repair trade grew,” Caterall recalls. “Artists like Celia Pym and Bridget Harvey led an artistic style of the process, and reform seemed pertinent to all of the sustainability conversations.”

Further development of this early vision, Forever Yours: A Gallery of Care, Repair, and Healing, opened at Somerset House last week. “Like many people, I have been on vacation during the pandemic and it has been an impressive experience. Ideas of repair and healing fuse and focus on the duty of care we give to our community, ourselves, our planet and our possessions.” This gave birth to the idea of ​​visible repair: an approach to repair where trauma or damage becomes part of the story — in people, things, or clothes.”

Celia Beam patchwork jacket on display at Somerset House

It’s a timely opening coming like BBC TV repair shop It attracts more than 7 million viewers per episode. The show combines expertise in restoring broken pieces with the personal stories of their owners. It comforts television in turbulent times, which Catterall believes resonates in a world emerging from a pandemic and traumatized by conflict. “It has to do with the idea of ​​nursing,” she says. “I like the word ‘healing’: it’s about healing and the healing mind to fix something.”

As part of the exhibition, the fashion brand offers Toast workshops in repair skills. “Repairing is about the journey, not restoring impossible perfection to new,” says the company’s repair specialist, Jessica Smulders-Cohen.

Toast began offering sessions in 2018 to instruct clients in Japanese sewing techniques such as boroughAnd the kantha And the sashiko It expanded to repair woven garments and then delicate knitwear. Online sessions continued in lockdown mode. So far, more than 7,000 people have participated, and the brand is now offering a free post repair service for its own clothes.

“We now have seven in-store regeneration centers in England and Scotland,” says Madeleine Michel, Social Conscience Officer at Toast. “Since April 2021, our professionals have repaired more than 1,800 pieces of clothing, often using surplus materials from our production process. Last February, all of our storefronts featured repaired clothing and inspired customers to bring their loved ones for some TLC.”

A well-used Chanel bag is getting the restoration treatment

Where previous generations reformed as unobtrusively as possible, perhaps embarrassed by enforced austerity, New Wave reformers use a more decorative style of “visible reform”. Flora Collingwood Norris, a knitwear designer based in the Scottish Borders, reports a growing demand for her colorful and visible repair services. It’s an idea that started when she was a teenager, buying cashmere sweaters at charity stores and then decorating any damage with a needle and thread.

“I see the hole as an opportunity,” she says. “It forces me to get creative and think about the size, placement and context of the garment, then play with the textures of the yarn, the colors and a combination of traditional darning techniques, patches and embroidery to elevate it into a new design element. Anyone can do it: it is affordable and accessible. Giving clothes quality Unique and a new chapter that brings immense satisfaction.”

Although Collingwood Norris does repairs for a fee, it has also published a book, offers Zoom workshops and downloadable video tutorials, and sells materials to those who want to make their own repairs — this is an area in which it has thrived lately. Libraries are filled to the brim with titles like happy fixAnd the fix thingsAnd the The art of repair And the modern touchWhile YouTube has a large number of tutorials for those who want to learn how to fix and repair yourself.

With supply chain problems and a cost-of-living crisis rampant, many are being paid to make ends meet in ways not seen since the 1940s. There may be a disconnect between mending as a necessity and pinning as a fashion honor — between someone struggling to keep a school jacket from falling apart and a fashion designer using flashy stitching to cover up a butterfly hole in a designer piece — but it can. You begin to reduce the stigma. It can also lead people to think about the disposable nature of fast fashion – and the 300,000 tons of clothes that end up in UK landfills every year.

BBC repair shop Cynthia Davis with a 60-year-old monkey in need of specialist care.
BBC repair shop Cynthia Davis with a 60-year-old monkey in need of specialist care

A growing army of companies including Mulberry, Barbour and Uniqlo are making in-house repairs, and other brands are collaborating with third-party repair specialists. The Restoration offers high quality clothing repairs, either directly to consumers or in partnership with brands such as Manolo Blahnik and retailers such as Farfetch, Selfridges and Harrods.

“We want customers to fall in love with the things they love all over again, whether it’s refreshing a faded bag color or repairing tears, holes, scratches and other damage,” said founder and CEO Vanessa Jacobs, a New Yorker who now lives in London, who came up with the idea. “Restory” after receiving a shabby service while taking a pair of favorite shoes to a street repair chain. “Aftercare is the biggest market you’ve ever seen. It is worth $100 billion, but it hasn’t been digitized and optimized to meet modern needs. We entered the market in 2017 and completed 60,000 repairs last year. Technology and logistics infrastructure has evolved and growth is fast. The Kingdom is The United States and Continental Europe are our biggest markets – although everything is currently done from the UK – and we are in talks with major players in the US to do the same.”

The reform might have the potential to make big money for some, but it could also help heal the planet and its inhabitants. As artist Bridget Harvey says in her statement for Making at Somerset House, “The contemporary reformer demonstrates not only an interest in the past, but also an unwavering attitude to the future.”

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