The Rise Of Repairing: Why We Should Care About Our Clothes

Good news...repairing is on the rise! As we enter 2023 we see trends of caring for our clothes coming to the forefront. We sit down with The Seam, a London based repairs company to explore this the new trend that's here to stay. 

For people who don’t know… what is The Seam! 

The Seam enables people to care for every item in their wardrobe as though it were their very favourite piece. At a time where fashion is increasingly treated as disposable, we aim to bring about a revolution in caring for our belongings. From tailoring for personalised fit, to restoring signs of wear, embroidering over stains and invisibly mending knits, we connect people with our vibrant community of specialist Makers. Beyond the services we offer, The Seam aims to shift the collective experience of fashion to be underpinned by a culture of care rather than consumption. 


What inspired you to start the business?

I grew up around my Nan, a professional dressmaker for 65 years, who lovingly tailored my clothes to fit and mended them when they became well worn. In my early teens, as the tallest and curviest in my peer group, my Nan’s skills enabled me to understand that the problem with awkward fit wasn’t my body, but the garment, itself. While my friends were swept up by disposable clothes and the rise of fast-fashion, I saw the hours my Nan put into my clothes and became more emotionally attached. I learned that alterations not only make people more comfortable and confident in their clothes, they form a bond between wearer and garment. 

Research from our early days at The Seam confirms this experience. We asked 200 people about their relationship with clothing fit and learned that 81% of them believed their body to be ‘abnormal’. When clothing doesn’t fit well, or hang right, we tend to blame our own bodies, rather than see mass manufacturing and chaotic sizing systems as the issue. 

Beyond showing me the value in tailoring and repair, my grandmother also exemplified the devaluation in making skills that has occurred in the UK and elsewhere in recent decades. In the 70s and 80s, my grandmother worked in Birmingham department stores, tailoring customers’ purchases to fit them before they brought them home. Today, the shrinking prices of clothing produced offshore make the cost of a trouser hem or seam repair much less attractive to customers. 

The Seam’s community of Makers – from cobblers and leather specialists to tailors, knitwear menders and embroidery artists – demonstrate the value in caring for our wardrobes. They are artisans who can take unwearable pieces and turn them into treasures. We’ve learned that the best way for people to appreciate the value of making skills is to show them what our Makers can do.


As a society, why are the west disconnected with caring for our clothing? 

The fashion industry today is selling an unattainable dream, at the cost of the planet. We’re sold inexpensive, trend-driven pieces that look perfect in ecomm photos, and then we receive poorly made, badly fitting items that look tired and worn after a single round in the washing machine. And when these pieces fail to make us feel confident, we buy more of them. 


At The Seam, we’re changing things up. We see a fashion experience built on circular habits, like investing in higher quality pieces, tailoring them to fit, sharing them, renting them, repairing them when they become worn, and reselling them when they no longer fit our style. The circular fashion ecosystem isn’t one solution, it’s many, and we’ve found that repair has a role to play in all of them. Some of our most frequent customers are renters who rely on The Seam to keep their pieces looking their best in rotation. We also support many resellers to increase the value of their items on places like Vestiaire Collective, eBay and Depop, by restoring leather surfaces, fixing fastenings and embroidering over stains. 


Do you have any favourite repair stories at The Seam?

The most exciting bookings our Makers work on are those that restore someone’s emotional connection to a piece in their wardrobe. One of our invisible repair specialists recently fixed a silk scarf, which had been passed onto the customer by her late mother and then attacked by moths in the wardrobe. Being able to turn the piece back into a beautiful, wearable, heirloom is the kind of story we often hear from customers. 

We’re also interested in learning more about the impact of each type of repair we offer. Research in this area is still limited, but estimations from the AERESS (The Spanish Association of Recyclers of Social and Solidarity Economy) suggest that repairing a cotton t-shirt saves around 2.5 Kg of CO2e, while a sneaker repair saves about 5.7 Kg CO2e. The Seam aims to help support further research into the environmental offset potential of repair, to help our customers and our brand partners recognise the power of wardrobe care. 


Could you share The Seam’s top tips for making wardrobe care part of your routine?

One: Inspect your garments as you put your clean laundry away. While you fold and hang, check things for for signs of wear, and set aside pieces that need some love and attention. 

Two: Get your sneakers cleaned seasonally. This affordable service is one thing you can do to make a well-worn pair of trainers look instantly new again, and it’s more satisfying than buying something new every single time. High impact, big sustainability points. 

Three: Keep a note on your phone about why you parted ways with pieces in your wardrobe. The aim here is to notice trends about the items that didn’t stand the test of time, whether it was a material that felt wrong to your skin, or a neckline that made you feel awkward, getting to know yourself and your style is key to purchase longevity. 


To Book Care & Repair on The Seam Tap Here




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