Show your clothes a little love
Last Thursday I received a lovely treat, delivered to my door. Some beautiful brown paper packages tied up with strings (Julie Andrews would have been loving it), topped off with a note thanking me for my purchase. I unwrapped it excitedly to find…my old clothes! Because a few weeks earlier I’d bundled up all of the items from our wardrobes which needed repairs I couldn’t do myself (most of them!), and sent them to The Artful Menders, where they were expertly mended. They arrived back, still old but much improved, and it felt great to give my old clothes a lease of new life. Some of the items were over ten years old, but they were pieces I love and want to keep wearing for as long as I can.
The Artful Menders was set up by Emma and Cathy, who were trying to find a more sustainable approach to fashion. Their motto is Slow Fashion + Keepsake Pieces + Reduce Waste + Circular Living, and they can repair your old clothing, repurpose any items which are beyond repair, and reinforce or patch up children’s clothes to make them more durable (I thought of them yesterday, and the new repairs I’ll be commissioning, as my children were rolling, sliding and skidding at the park). I was communicating with Emma, who was so friendly and professional, and kept me updated about my repairs. She even asked another customer, who lives in Aylesbury, if he would deliver my clothes back to me – saving my time and avoiding a duplicate journey. But my favourite thing about The Artful Menders is their inventiveness: they do offer standard repairs, but also visible mends – instead of trying to hide the mend, you can highlight it with a patch, contrast it with a different colour, or add a little personalisation. They are clearly passionate about sustainability and reducing consumption, and want to help us to change the way that we see our clothes. Instead of viewing any sign of wear and tear as the end of the line for our clothing, we can start to see them as fixable – the carbon footprint of our clothes can be reduced by around 24% if we just wear them for one to two years longer than we usually would. This might also encourage us to look after our clothes better, and learn about how to really care for the items we wear.
The Artful Menders also plan to run workshops to enable us to make our own repairs. As this isn’t possible just at the moment, they’ll be uploading tutorials and videos to their YouTube channel before they can get going with the face-to-face classes.
Being thankful for everything that has gone into making our clothes will help us all in our sustainable journeys. Marie Kondo has helped to recently popularise the idea of animism – the concept which believes every object has a soul – by encouraging declutterers to say “thank you” to items for the service they have provided, before removing them from their lives. Whilst we are hoping you aren’t going to be saying goodbye to many of your possessions, this idea is really helpful to engender respect for our clothing. We can start to see our clothes (and other goods) not as disposable, things which just pop up, readymade in M&S or Primark, but as the sum of their parts, and appreciate all of the natural resources, human toil, and carbon emissions which have gone into producing them, therefore want to maintain them as we would a treasured keepsake.
The Artful Menders are in our Local Sustainable Directory. I know I know, they’re not in Aylesbury, but they’re still fairly local and are hoping to be able to offer a service here in Aylesbury by perhaps setting up a drop-off point, or a collection and delivery service. Do think about them – or another of our local repair services – when you’re having a clear out and ask if with just a little care you might be able to enjoy your clothes for a bit longer.
Links and further information
- The Artful Menders website
- The Artful Menders YouTube channel
- Our directory includes a number of services and groups which encourage repairing and reusing – see Waste, Reuse, Repair and Recycle in Aylesbury
- A great book on how to repair and revitalise your wardrobe is Orsola de Castro’s ‘Loved Clothes Last: How the Joy of Rewearing and Repairing Your Clothes Can Be a Revolutionary Act’
- This article in The Guardian has lots of tips on how to maintain your clothes – ‘Slow fashion: how to keep your favourite clothes for ever – from laundering to moth-proofing’
- As does this one in the New York Times – ‘How to Take Care of Your Clothes’