‘Repair is an act of protest against consumerism and fast fashion’

It started back in 2019, just before the Covid-19 pandemic hit. Bethany, creator of Reclaimed Craft was inspired by the social and political climate pushing for stronger action and wanted to contribute further.

“Using the Climate Action Venn Diagram by Dr Ayana Elizabeth Johnson, it was clear that I could raise money for Greenpeace whilst reducing local waste and doing something I love, which is crochet,” explains Bethany (who did not want her full name to be published).

What started as a climate-inspired action turned into a repair and mending-focused project.

“I view visible mending as the fashion incarnation of Kintsugi, a word that translates as ‘golden joinery’ and is the Japanese art of repairing broken pottery using gold,” continues the entrepreneur.

By the seemingly ordinary act of mending clothes, consumers can defy an industry that has already produced enough clothing on the planet for six generations and still produces over 100 billion garments a year.

This local craft initiative not only considers ancient knowledge and techniques but has also brought back ‘visible clothing repair’ – a way of honouring the life that a garment has previously had and actively extending it in a conscious way, embracing the flaws and imperfections.

Instead of pretending that a garment is ‘as good as new’, visible mending uses contrasting colours and palates to bring attention to the repair. This makes the garment unique and more valuable, explains Bethany.

A pocket rip transformed into a colourful patch by Bethany – photo: Bethany

Amid a Sustainable Fashion Week that invites consumers to re-think and re-shape their consumer habits, clothing repair offers new ways of approaching the way we interact with garments.

Bethany tells Bristol24/7: “Repair is an act of protest against consumerism and, in particular, fast fashion. Fashion is ephemeral. We are constantly led to believe by society that we need new clothes and that it’s not okay to be seen in the same outfit twice.

“Due to this, the relationship we have with our clothes ends as soon as it begins. We buy, we wear, we discard, we buy.”

Bethany believes that mending acts as a tool to slow down, to connect with garments and the way we value, and repurpose clothing.

Repairing clothes is an inexpensive way to get involved with sustainable fashion instead of buying more unnecessary pieces.

“Family members from different generations can hold wisdom regarding a lot of textile repair, as it was a necessity to survive in previous generations,” continues Bethany.

“I personally learnt how to visibly repair on an online course by the incredible Gabriela Martinez Ortiz, founder of Ofelia and Antelmo. The Repair What You Wear website has some really in-depth tutorials.

“Bristol is also the hub of Sustainable Fashion Week, a non-profit organisation that runs regular community events like Switch and Stitch, clothes swaps and repair cafés. There is also Street Stitchers, which is a nationwide movement of menders who form a line in highstreets to repair as a sign of encouragement to others to mend their clothes.

“I would encourage everyone to get involved with repairing. Personally, it has been a route for me to build skills, be part of a community and further causes that I care deeply about.”

This piece of independent journalism is supported by NatWest and the Bristol24/7 public and business membership

Main photo: Bethany

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