Tomorrow is Fashion Revolution Day. This day asks people to think about who made the clothes you are wearing.
This question started to form in my head a few years ago, which is one of the reasons why I started The Visible Mending Programme and I’d like to explain a bit more about the philosophy behind it.
Visible Mending Workshop at Shetland Wool Week 2013
The Visible Mending Programme seeks to highlight that the art and craftsmanship of clothes repair is particularly relevant in a world where more and more people voice their dissatisfaction with fashion’s throwaway culture. By exploring the story behind garment and repair, the Programme attempts to reinforce the relationship between wearer and garment, hopefully leading to people wearing their existing clothes for longer, with the beautiful darn worn as a badge of honour. The development and crystallisation of these ideas are closely linked to the development of my hand-knitting skills.
Zoe’s cardigan has gone through The Visible Mending Programme a number of times
Taking pride in my craftsmanship of hand-knitting has led to the realisation that I want to take good care of these items to extend their longevity. However, this urge is not quite so strong for clothes purchased on the High Street, even though they were probably produced by highly skilled makers. Although considerable constraints in time and materials can affect their quality they ought to deserve the same care as a hand-knit to honour the anonymous makers and their skills.
A hand-knitted cardigan, designed by myself
Hand-knitting creates close ties with the object made; tracing its evolution and progress reminds one of where, when and how it was made. A good darn also requires craftsmanship, and I frequently employ knitting and crochet techniques for mending, or techniques traditionally used for repairing knitwear. The experience of this process allows one to create a similar connection with shop-bought clothes as with hand-knits. By thinking about how the garment was acquired, the occasions it was worn and the motivation of the repair can reinforce that relationship. Writing a Visible Mending Programme blog, running darning workshops and taking repair work commissions can provide inspiration, skills and services to people and hopefully persuade them that shop-bought clothes deserve care and attention too, just like that precious hand-knit.
A scarf repaired by one of my students during a Visible Mending Workshop
You can read some more over at The Good Wardrobe, where John-Paul Flintoff interviewed me at one of their Sew It Forward events.
So ask yourself: do you know who made your clothes?