Mending is at the heart of my business. The vintage garments that I stock span several decades, averaging between fifty and seventy years old. As you can imagine, even when their previous owners have taken good care of them, the majority do need some degree of restoration.
All clothing is carefully laundered at low temperatures and line dried to keep carbon emissions low. Laundering agents are eco-friendly and stain removal is made using traditional non-toxic treatments. Much of the laundering process can be damaging to our clothing, therefore pressing is only done when necessary.
It is often after laundering that faults in fabric and garment repairs are identified. I will carefully inspect everything from seams and hems to fastenings and fabric quality. Sometimes a quick fix is all that’s needed, removing bobbling or reattaching buttons. With many polyester-based fabrics like Crimplene, the material itself is almost indestructible but the cotton stitched seams have often disintegrated and need sewing again. Zippers were mainly metal, and rusting means I replace dozens of them. The same applies to sets of buttons, where more than two are missing I have no choice but to replace the whole set to match.
Stains are another matter entirely. If visible they can be the ruination of a perfectly wearable piece of clothing. However, it forces me to get creative, visible mending can sometimes disguise a stain whilst adding a feature; embroidered flowers or motifs, small corsages or sympathetic patchwork. If a mend won’t improve it, then the damaged item is sent for upcycling in which case, every part is re-used and recycled into something new.
Holes and tears are much the same as stains. Traditional invisible repairs will be attempted where possible but if not, visible mending is introduced.
Common rips and tears arrive in jeans which get Sashiko stitching repairs, an ancient Japanese art of making small running stitches on and around the tear in linear designs.
Patchwork is also incorporated, and the damage will become a feature to be worn like a badge of honour. A mend displays the value you have put on your garment, it was an investment worth saving.
Mending makes every piece of clothing special. By keeping these vintage garments in circulation, we are respecting the makers and slowing down the production of fast fashion.