How you can develop a meaningful relationship with your wardrobe.
By Aparna Sharma
I was born in the late 1970s, and for almost two decades of my life, I lived through a beautiful era in fashion where there was a deeper sense of meaning attached to every item of clothing, so we mended them more. For example, I remember watching my mom repair clothes regularly; adding patches or stitching back a loose button.
Mending: A Meditative Act
Mending clothes can become a form of meditation. I am not an expert, but fortunately, there are many good tailors in Bangkok for complex mending. However, basic mending can easily be done at home without a sewing machine. The only tools you require are a needle and thread.
Mending is about using what you already own. It teaches us to embrace imperfections. Most mending involves sewing, which means keeping your hands occupied with repetitive, soothing stitches. When you learn to fix what’s broken, we’re empowered to understand that we don’t always have to buy something new.
Next time you tear a dress or a button falls off, try fixing it by yourself. The act itself can be very satisfying, and it helps you develop a deeper relationship with your clothes, instead of seeing our clothes as easily disposable, which can be extremely problematic. Repairing clothes often requires my full attention, and this is where the meditative aspect comes in. The focus needed to repair clothes can be very calming, and the accomplishment of having fixed something helps us connect more with the clothes we own.
When you start sewing and trying to mend an outfit, you are forced to slow down and think of how you can ensure it looks beautiful and aesthetic. As you begin to understand sewing and do it more often, you realise that the clothes we wear were made by other humans; every aspect of making a garment from picking the cotton, dyeing, to stitching, needs a human touch and most of those hands belong to people in the Global South who don’t make a living wage and work in dangerous conditions, all so that fast fashion can sell it to us for cheap. This realisation will make us more mindful of the way we consume fashion. Mending is also extremely productive and is an act of sustainability.
Mending: An Act of Rebellion
Mending is also an act of rebellion against a capitalistic system which constantly tells us to use and throw away. It’s ironic that we’ve reached an era in fashion where clothing labels make new clothes which look distressed and torn, but they don’t encourage us to wear old clothes which are distressed.
People often say, “Just buy a new pair, mending will make it look shabby.” It is this very statement which made me a slow fashion rebel. Mending can look unique and different – putting an interesting patch on a dress or jeans can give an element of rebellion to an outfit. While the fast fashion industry wants us to keep buying new items, when we choose to mend, we are sending back a message that we don’t want new clothes to be produced constantly.
The more people become vocal about mending, we will be able to see the emergence of a repair economy. I would love to see brands like Zara and H&M have a mending station in each of their showrooms. I think corporations providing mending services can be a potential solution to slow down the 150 billion items of clothing being produced every year.
Would you consider mending before buying something new?
There are plenty of opportunities in Bangkok for those interested. For example, Carla Soledad (Instagram: @carlasoledadrivera) offers classes on upcycling and mending, and my daughters have done a workshop with her where they learnt to make earrings from fabric scraps. Meanwhile, Olga Courbet (Facebook: Olga Coubert) offers mending classes, and there is a Facebook group called Bangkok Crafters (@bangkokcrafters) for anyone interested in more conversations on this topic.
Aparna Sharma (Instagram: @stylishsuitcase) is a non-conformist who believes that fashion must become a force for good and style must meet sustainability. She breaks down the nuances of slow fashion and how we can stay stylish without being trendy.