guest author LOREN BLACKWOOD
The POWER OF MENDING
Orsola de Castro encourages us to love our clothes. With resolve, she proclaims, “You will mend them, not throw them,” says the co-founder of Fashion Revolution, a non-profit supporting industry reform. Her latest book, Loved Clothes Last, proposes revolution by re-wearing and repairing clothes. The author reminds us that “nothing is created, nor destroyed, everything is transformed.” This simple act can help deal with overconsumption, fashion waste, and ultimately, reducing greenhouse gases produced from fashion production.
The Ellen MacArthur Foundation reported over 73% of the 53 million tons of textiles produced globally every year are discarded. One way to reduce a Carbon Footprint is through repair. By keeping clothes in use by mending and not disposing of them, we can sidestep the carbon compounds emitted from new apparel production or a landfill. Many brands offer in-house repair for those who do not have time or a desire to sew or mend. In a mission to keep things in use a little longer, some companies take their repair stations on the road.
Since 2017, Patagonia’s Worn Wear Program repairs and recycles clothing through the website or directly from their traveling repair truck. Recently, in 2020, their “Tour-de-Tear” roving seamsters made stops throughout Europe and the US. These to-go tailors spread goodwill and repair, all free of charge. Alternatively, online customers traded functioning garments or gear for credit or shopped their catalog for Trade-In or Recrafted clothes, made from other clothes.
BORO AND SASHIKO
Boro refers to the art of visible mending with scrap fabric, demonstrating the concept of “Wabi-Sabi,” or appreciating an object’s impermanence and imperfection. This art of Japanese textile repair, developed hundreds of years ago by working-class people, was born from a desire to extend the usefulness of fabric through patchwork and stitching.
The small and even stitching used for a Boro piece is called Sashiko. Imperfections are intentionally left frayed to add to the aesthetic. This folk art, developed during the 17th century Edo period, extended the use of textiles made from cotton, linen, or hemp fabrics harvested, spun, and dyed by hand. The embroidery-like stitches add texture and strength while embellishing everyday items.
The Japanese value, “Mottainai,” translates to, waste nothing by seeing the value in everything. The act of Sashiko requires being in the moment, as a long sharp threaded needle passes through layers of fabric, leaving a trail of tiny even stitches. This restoration method offers a connection with our belongings and an opportunity to rethink our relationship to what makes clothing meaningful. Understanding this relationship puts us in the driver's seat.
A FASHION BOOM, MUSHROOMS
Stella McCartney commits to innovation and decreasing the company’s Carbon Footprint by teasing a new sustainable non-leather textile. The first luxury fashion brand not to utilize animal hides, feathers, or fur, worked with Bolt Threads to produce Mylo, a vegan leather. This plant-based fabric does not utilize petroleum or harmful chemicals for production, found in leather or pleather manufacturing processes. McCartney has used Bolt Threads’ trademarked Mylo fabric for two garments, black bustier top and utilitarian trousers.
By the end of this year, the French fashion house, Hermès, plans to release a prototype mushroomed bag developed by MycoWorks. Pierre-Alexis Dumas, artistic director of Hermès, a company whose reputation stands on making products from the finest materials, recalls his grandfather telling him, “Luxury is that which you can repair.”
Donating clothes forestalls an early “End of Life,” the term used in the apparel industry designating the end of clothing’s useful lifespan. Orsola de Castro reminds us that “nothing is created, nor destroyed, everything is transformed.” Before disposing of, consider the secondhand market. We can revolutionize how and what we consume by donating, selling, or recycling obsolete clothing. The top resale clothing sites, Poshmark, Depop, thredUP, and The RealReal, saw record growth over the last year. In March, thredUP, described as the most trusted online marketplace for used clothing, went Public entering Nasdaq 30% above the IPO price. As we consider how to enjoy fashion trends more responsibly, choosing used instead of new is one of the easiest ways to participate.
“The revolution will put you in the driver’s seat.”
Gill Scott - Heron
Loren Blackwood studies Fashion Design at Orange Coast College. She earned her Bachelor's Degree in Art History from the University of California at Irvine. She interns at the Huntington Beach Art Center.