Visible mending: making slow fashion cool

Fast fashion is devastating for the planet. It is responsible for the production of around 92 million tonnes of textile waste and 8-10% of global CO2 emissions per year. Despite a growing awareness of these effects, the industry continues to grow with global production of clothing almost twice what it was before the year 2000. As a small example of this, the popular fashion brand Shein adds a shocking 6,000 items to its range every day. Fast fashion brands encourage consumer to buy more clothes than ever with increasingly low prices and ever-changing trends. The environmental impact of the production and disposal of these garments can no longer be justified; the fast fashion industry must be replaced in its entirety.

How can we begin to address this? The size of the problem is overwhelming and the transition to slow fashion complex. As is the case with many problems, the simplest course of action is to start small. How can you address the effects of fast fashion you produce? An easy place to start is with the practice of visible mending, repairing damaged items of clothing through stylish eye-catching mends in order to extend their lifespan.

Repairing clothes has a long history but the rise of fast fashion and the right to repair movement have re-contextualised it. To many, visible mending is a defiant statement against an industry that priorities profit over quality and sustainability. Rather than hiding age or damage, visible mending calls attention to it, presenting it as a valuable addition to the garment. Repairs are eye-catching and present themselves as a visible statement of support for slow fashion.

One of the serious downsides of fast fashion which contributes to its mass production of waste is its devaluation of clothes. Every garment is a temporary item, something to be worn for the shortest time possible before being replaced by the next trendy thing. By lengthening the lifespan of clothing rather than shortening it, visible mending presents itself as the anti-thesis of fast fashion and transforms the relationship people have with their clothes. Choosing to see damage to clothing as an opportunity rather than a reason to dispose of them causes people view their clothes as long-term items to be valued. After fixing your own clothes, it’s hard not to view fast fashion practices as damaging and bizarre.

Hopefully, you are convinced of the value of mending your clothes but it’s possible that you don’t know where to start or are worried it will cost lots of money. Rest assured, mending clothes saves you lots of money in the long-term and is incredibly accessible with plenty of resources available online and in-person just waiting to help you. 

If you need help, check out these resources and groups:

  • YouTube tutorials
  • Reddit: Visible Mending Subreddit and others
  • Books: Joyful Mending: Visible Repairs for the Perfectly Imperfect Things We Love! and others
  • Durham University Societies: Sewing Society, Crochet Society or Students for Sustainable Living

Visible mending is the perfect counterpart to fast fashion, it presents age and damage as valuable and exciting, providing an opportunity to mend or rejuvenate clothing in a unique way. Fast fashion with its mass-produced clothing and planned obsolescence seems to be a vastly inferior option and, through the act of mending itself, you can begin to understand just how big the problem is.

Image: Jen Mussari on Flickr

2 thoughts on this article.

  1. Lana says:


  2. Anonymous says:

    Wonderful article

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