Mend It, Wear It, Love It
By Haven Hathaway
Think back to 2016 when all we could do was scroll endlessly on our Pinterest feeds and engross ourselves in DIY YouTube tutorials? We would patiently wait for our next trip to the craft store to pick up the supplies we needed to DIY a new shirt or decoration for our bedrooms.
This wave of DIY-ing that made a comeback during quarantine and staying at home showed us that we didn’t need to go out and buy new supplies for our projects; instead, we should shop our houses and closets. We were once again joined with a common goal of using our creativity to make something old, new again.
Even then, if we didn’t know it, we practiced a more sustainable lifestyle by reusing our old clothes and supplies and transforming them into something different without contributing to more product and fabric waste.
You’ve heard of renting, borrowing, and thrifting second-hand clothing as a sustainability habit, but have you ever tried visible mending? If you are nifty with a needle and thread, this is the new trend for you. But, if you have never sewn before in your life, there is no need to worry because I will share the resources and tips to get you started on your more eco-friendly journey.
“Many environmentalists say the key to sustainable clothing is already in your closet, and that has brought new attention to mending torn and worn clothes instead of buying new ones,” stated an NPR article.
I think sometimes the act of buying sustainably produced products is what is looked at as the most crucial part of this movement. Although this is an important practice, I love that the conversation of just not buying new in general is becoming more recognized.
This sustainability trend dates back centuries to the Japanese tradition of sashiko, a form of stitching geometric patterns to strengthen the worn and older fabric. However, sashiko is said to be more invisible mending as it uses the stitching technique to transform the clothing into a beautiful design that hides the fact that it was stitched.
On the other hand, visible mending is more about modifying the clothes into a new version of themselves with colorful patchwork designs that are clearly noticeable and highlighted in your outfit.
Fashion houses have even incorporated mixed fabrics and patchwork techniques in their runway show collections. L’Offiicel highlighted that “Loewe presented jackets and dresses made of multiple materials by Jonathan Anderson, while Hermès offered patchwork-like bomber jackets.”
The mending technique uses embroidery thread, crochet pieces, or colorful fabric “to breathe new life into a clothing item without changing its function. The result is a treasured creation that will never go out of style.”
You only need a needle, scissors, embroidery thread, and your fashion creativity to participate in this movement. These articles on Sustainably Chic and Better Homes and Gardens show you the step-by-step process along with great visual aids to get you started on your way to making a “new” item in your wardrobe. A YouTube search can also go a long way, and there are numerous tutorials to help with technique and design inspiration.
The beauty of sustainability is that we express our love for our clothing and the production journey it has gone through. Visible mending embraces our clothes' imperfections and, more importantly, gives them another chance to be worn and appreciated by our fashion community.
I think it’s time we all get in touch with our 2016 DIY-ing selves and use our artistry and imaginations to become expert visible menders.
-As always, elevate your wardrobe with respected fashion and embrace the shift in style.
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