MENDING ON DISPLAY – Rethinking fashion culture through visible mending
MENDING ON DISPLAY is an exploration of how to involve people in mending and have it be incorporated in to everyday life. This was done through mending workshops and investigative conversations, as well as a window display exhibiting visibly mended clothes in the secondhand store Busfrö Nytt & Bytt in Kalmar.
With all the information we have arounds us, devastating news on how the planet is rapidly changing for the worse, it’s important to show that there can be joy in striving towards sustainable solutions. There can be beauty in repairing what’s broken, and moving away from current fashion culture does not have to mean compromising on your personal expression and style.
By putting mending on display and forcing it to take up more visual space in our society, more people can be intrigued into using mending as an everyday tool. Using visible mending techniques as a method of doing this I want to push for a change in fast fashion culture: pushing for repairs to be the new(old) norm. With this addressing the issue of textile waste. Every year, several kilos of clothes are thrown out in Sweden, a lot of them unused or with minor damage that could have been repaired (Naturskyddsföreningen, 2022).
Textile waste is a structural problem. “The shift (in the fashion industry) is moving ruthlessly towards a way of producing which only really looks after big business interests” – Orsola de Castro, fashion designer (The True Cost, 2015). We are disconnected from the process of making clothes and therefore we don’t see the same value in them. I believe it’s important to strive for an attitude towards fashion that pushes us to move away from the current system of micro trends. My approach of using mending as a way of changing waste culture within our society is based on the fact that being more connected to an item, and so the history of it, can lead to a greater sense of care for it.
I was positively surprised by the response at the first workshop I hosted. People who joined expressed that they felt more confident in their own ability and I was told they would like to do it again. There was a noticeable good mood in the room, as perhaps this workshop provided a well needed break in the life of busy students. It created a feeling of community and belonging as we shared this moment of creating and re-creating together.
In a conversation with a friend I got the following comment:
“Sometimes it’s just easier to buy a new shirt rather than buying the material and fixing it. There are many more steps to it, buying material, sitting down and doing it etc. You need to be able to compete with the convenience of Amazon”.
An important reflection to take in to account. In the workshop the participants were encouraged to directly partake in the mending, with the time, place and material provided for them. While the exhibition, showcasing the mended items I’ve made throughout the project did provide visual inspiration it does not create action in the same direct way. Therefore I decided to combine the exhibition with another mending workshop.
The most important insight I gained from the project was the sense of community that keept coming up throughout it, the importance of it and the kindness received from it, and how it can make people come together for a cause.
I realized that long term mending-space solutions are needed. These places, meeting grounds for mending, already exist but few people seem to know about them. Perhaps we need more of these initiatives, in different contexts, in order to spread the word. Throughout the work with my project I feel I have not only gained invaluable and useful information but also become a part of a community network that I would like to continue working with in the future.
König, Anna. 2013. A Stitch in Time: Changing Cultural Constructions of Craft and Mending. Diss., University of the arts London. https://ualresearchonline.arts.ac.uk/id/eprint/6753/1/culture_unbound.pdf
Naturskyddsföreningen. 2022. Våra kläder. [Faktablad]. https://www.naturskyddsforeningen.se/faktablad/vara-klader/ (Retrived 2022-02-14).
The True Cost. 2015. Life Is My Movie Entertainment, Bullfrog Films (home media). https://truecostmovie.com/ (Retrieved 2022-02-14).
Busfrö Nytt & Bytt