At Ilk + Ernie we have recently teamed up with The Seam, a network of trusted, specialist Makers who alter and repair clothing (more on The Seam later!). This new partnership got us thinking, what happened to the days when we would repair our clothing because… it made sense to? For this month’s Me, Myself and the Planet, we will be looking at a quick history of mending, how we lost touch with repairing our clothing and where we can repair and mend our clothing now.
A brief history of mending and repairing
The history of mending goes back hundreds of years so it’s hard to get a proper timeline together! Let’s bring it to a time we know more about- WW2. During WW2 clothing was rationed, just like food! There was very little clothing to buy new as materials where needed for the War to make many items such as uniforms, sleeping bags and parachutes. With no new clothing available, the government issued a new campaign, ‘Make Do and Mend’, which encouraged people to repair, mend and upcycle their clothing!
When did we stop repairing our clothing?
Jumping forward to present day, we can see our attitude towards clothing has completely changed, this is largely due to the birth of Fast Fashion in the early 2000s. Fast Fashion conditioned us as consumers to constantly buy into the latest trend and to continuously consume in order to not feel isolated from our peers and others. Fast Fashion is made offshore by underpaid workers who are forced to create this clothing at a rapid pace- usually at the risk of their own lives. Offshoring fashion has led consumers to not know where, how or who made their clothing. During and before the war sewing was a skill and a job, offshoring to create garments for cheaper meant that people slowly stopped sewing as big brands were making clothing faster for cheaper: local handmade clothing and fashion was no longer in demand.
(It can’t go without saying that there have always been people who continue to mend and repair their clothing!)
How can I repair my clothing?
With a rising interest in how individuals can make their wardrobe more planet friendly, mending and repairing is becoming more normal now! So where can you go to get your clothes repaired? Small alterations such as holes in socks or a small seam rip can be done by yourself! There is an abundance of YouTube tutorials for you to follow and you could even invite friends round and mend together- make a night out of it with your pals! If you aren’t the most confident sewer then you could also try asking friends and family if any of them are particularly handy with a needle and thread!
For those big jobs that you definitely need a specialist for, why not try finding your local seamstress/seamster! They will most likely be a small business which is an extra sustainable plus as you will be supporting the local economy!
There are also several brands who have cleverly noticed a gap in the market: not everyone has a local alterations shop! We have teamed up with The Seam who have a team of makers and fashion fixers across London, ready to attend to all your mending and repairing needs! Another brand to check out is SOJO who operate on a similar basis.
At Ilk + Ernie we believe that sustainable fashion is forever- items need to be created sustainably but also cared for in a planet friendly way! One of the ways consumers can keep their clothing for longer is obviously, repairing! This is why we have teamed up with The Seam, giving our customers 20% off when they get their Ilk + Ernie items repaired, mended or altered!
This month’s target!
This month’s target is, as always, super easy: try to find your local alterations shop! Follow them on social media, go in and chat to them, get to know them and any others in your area!
We also want to set an extra target this month- why not try repairing an item yourself or getting it repaired by your new found local alterations shop!