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Brief Published: 22 Feb 2019

Textile Designers Explore the Value of Repair

Tom Van Deijnen

In the wake of fast fashion, a collective effort to tackle textile waste is gaining momentum. Brands that invest in repair strategies and prolong product lifespans will win loyalty from conscious consumers. We round up some notable events and influencers who are using repair to add value to products.

At RISD Museum in Providence, US, the timely Repair and Design Futures exhibition (running until June 30 2019) examines mending in a modern context.

Historic and contemporary footwear, apparel and textiles are on display to demonstrate the different ways that repair methods can be used to add value to an object. Visible stitching, patched sections and decorative embroideries build a narrative into objects by revealing investment of emotion, time and labour.

Visitors can bring in garments to be repaired or even reconstructed at workshops by Providence-based Warp Collective. The team of innovative textile specialists use knitting machines, textile scraps, decorative stitching and creative construction techniques to revive and reinvent the clothing.

Other advocates of the visible mending movement include New York designer Lily Fulop, who curates an Instagram feed of beautiful textile-repair projects at Mindful Mending. Brighton-based designer Tom Van Deijnen shares tips and techniques for repairs on his Instagram account, and also contributed to Amazon’s number one bestseller for embroidery, Mending Matters by Katrina Rodabaugh, which was released in October 2018.

At a government level, textile waste is a costly problem which will worsen when developing countries like Rwanda and Uganda phase out used clothing imports in 2019 (Waste Advantage Mag, 2019). As the unabating tide of used clothing continues, local governing bodies are being forced to urgently rethink their waste policies.

For further insight and strategies, see The Repair Economy.