Repair programs and Youtubers show you how to repair holes in clothes to help us reduce the 80lbs of clothing we throw out yearly.
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What’s the sound dreaded by all fashion lovers? That heart-breaking rip which means you’ve torn your favorite sweater or pair of jeans. Even our most resilient garments and despite our best efforts and care will eventually fray, rip, or become worn out. Rather than tossing these garments in the trash and buying new ones, why not see if you can fix them and learn how to repair holes or invest in a service where a seamstress can do it for you?
Today’s throw-away society is destroying our planet. By some estimates, the average American throws away 80 pounds of clothes each year. In the heyday of fast fashion, the first thing that comes to mind when you’re just not interested in a piece of clothing anymore, is to throw it away, donate, or recycle it. But clothing alteration and repair workshops can transform the unworn clothes languishing in your wardrobe into cherished wardrobe staples again.
High end fashion houses have workshops that will breathe new life into your boots, jackets or jeans for free or at a small cost. YouTubers are also showing how you can mend, sew, and repair your favorite clothing. Below you will find the best places to repair your clothes, whether you do it yourself or have someone do it for you, because you should never have to dispose of an investment piece ever again.
Brunello Cucinelli is an example of a luxury brand committed to ensuring the longevity of its products. The Cucinelli Center for Fashion Resuscitation has a department where customers can send their old, well-worn Cucinelli coats, sweaters, and shoes to be washed, mended, or rewoven without leaving a trace and at no cost to the customer. In fact, in 2019, the company estimates it performed 5,000 repairs for its global clientele. “Today it’s all about the art of keeping and protecting what we cherish. It’s about repairing, mending and recovering, of reusing what’s old, giving new life to the existing.”
With environmentalism ingrained in the culture of Patagonia, it’s no surprise that the premier outdoor company encourages its customers to send in their wizened clothes rather than simply replace them. If a product from Patagonia does break, rip or tear, customers are encouraged to visit a Patagonia store where staff will then send it to the Repair Center. Patagonia’s Repair Center is one of the largest repair facilities in the United States, with 42 full-time repair technicians. According to the brand’s website, “The Repair Center currently keeps upward of 50,000 well-loved, hard-worn pieces out of the landfill, putting them back out into circulation for more use.”
The apparel retailer has also launched ‘Worn Wear Tours’. To ensure that all customers across the US and Europe are given access to Patagonia’s repair facilities, the company drives a repair truck through a number of states and cities offering customers free repairs for broken zippers, buttons, rips and more.
Nudie Jeans and Levis are two other fashion retailers that show a genuine interest in the full life cycle of their products. If you’ve invested in a good pair of Nudie Jeans, you have multiple options to repair them. You can take your Nudie Jeans into a repair workshop and pop-up, or call their Mobile Repair Station, which tours around the globe. If you can’t make it to one of those, you can order a free repair kit that includes denim patches, needles, yarn, and an instruction booklet. Furthermore, according to its website, the brand repaired 55,173 pairs of jeans in 2018. Levi’s Tailor Shop offers repairs, customizing and advice on how to repurpose old denim with its DIY projects.
San Francisco men’s clothing brand Taylor Stitch, launched a new program Restitch, which offers its customers the option to return their worn-out or gently used clothes in need of repair. Restitch then sells these repaired garments at a fairly steep discount from their original prices, thus giving a second life to these old clothes. Brands like the ones mentioned above demonstrate a dedication to sustainability. Yet, they are still few and far between.
This lack of aftercare has inspired on-demand services to launch such as Rago Brothers and Art Bag (formerly in NYC, now in Florida). Rago Brothers offers a niche and highly skilled service providing modern aftercare for luxury fashion, especially shoes, handbags and leather goods. Items can be packed and sent to the the companies’ workshops where they will be repaired by a team of specialists and then sent back to the customers’ home within 7 to 10 days. These repair workshops and services, that are increasingly available, set up an opportunity to bring back a culture of caring for our clothes and an example of how brands can start to mitigate the enormous amount of waste generated by the fashion industry.
If you’d rather do it yourself and learn how to repair holes in your clothing or accessories, YouTube-instructional videos can also save your hard-worn items. Here is an few example:
This genius video shows you how to upcycle an old pair of jeans into a skirt.