Innovation That Matters

Ripped jeans have always had fashion cachet, now this is extending to other types of old and mended clothes as well | Photo source StockSnap from Pixabay

‘Make do and mend’ refigured as sustainability

Fashion & Beauty

A shop in Los Angeles is collecting thousands of pounds of textile castoffs each week to use for upcycling

Spotted: Patching and darning were once commonplace practices – but that was before fast fashion made it cheaper to replace ripped or worn clothes than to mend them. However, as new generations become more aware of the costs of textile waste, there is a growing movement afoot to repair old garments, instead of replacing them.

One of those who has seen this trend first hand is Lindsay Rose Medoff, CEO of clothing upcycler Suay Sew Shop, in Los Angeles. Medoff and her team collect thousands of pounds of textile castoffs each week to use for upcycling. But she has also seen increasing interest from customers who want garments mended. So much so that the shop has set aside one day a week – “Save It Saturday” – for customers to bring their clothes for while-you-wait mending. 

Medoff’s team repairs a few hundred garments each week, with the number doubling every few weeks. All proceeds go to a fund that benefits L.A. garment workers, who are often poorly paid and lack benefits. New styles, such as visible mending, where the repair work is itself a fashion statement, are also helping to change attitudes by creating opportunities to personalise clothing.

Another driver may be the realisation that slogans such as “conscious consumption,” are often simply greenwashing used to sell more cheap clothing. Medoff argues that slogans like these foster an elitist view that many people are now finding offensive. This is especially true as the poor working conditions of many textile workers are coming to light. Mending, she points out, is “Not only…a powerful way to extend the life of clothing and keep textile waste out of landfills, but it’s also an accessible way to participate in sustainable fashion without having to buy anything new.”

Here at Springwise, we have highlighted a number of innovations that aim to make a dent in the mountains of textile waste produced each year. Recent ideas include a company that makes rugs by repurposing textile offcuts, and a new type of fully renewable recycled cotton.

Written By: Lisa Magloff

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