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Is mending the new shopping?

Why clothes and shoes repairing is back in fashion

Is mending the new shopping? Why clothes and shoes repairing is back in fashion

The planet is on fire; since Greta Thunberg said it in 2019 the situation has not improved, and unfortunately the fashion industry is still one of the main causes. On a daily basis, we are overwhelmed with new deals, discounts and an obscene amount of newness, dropping on our feeds and shopping baskets. «Capitalism tells us to shop our way out of the climate crisis,» says Alec Leach in his book, The World is on Fire, «but we are still buying shoes.» Shopping won’t save the planet, it might only make things worse. What is even worse than shopping is the carelessness we often have with our items. Back in the day mending was common practice, now it is presented as a trend on TikTok.

@oldloserinbrooklyn Mended haul: three pairs of shoes before and after the cobbler! it’s about time for care, maintenance and repair to get the spotlight in fashion. #designershoes #margielatabis #tabis #cobbler #shoerepair #simonerocha Blue Blood - Heinz Kiessling

According to TikTok trend forecaster Mandy Lee mending is the hottest trend of 2023. In several short clips, she shows the viewer her shoes by brands like Simone Rocha, Chanel or even Maison Margiela, which all clearly need a retouch. The Simone Rocha flats have a broken strap, the Chanel ones need to be customised to fit, and her Tabis need reheeling, one of them having lost its heel cap after only four weeks of wear. Countless articles demonstrate how the quality of luxury items has declined over the past few years, as one of the most commonly used practices is to cut costs by using cheaper materials.

«Bringing your shoes to the cobbler should be normalised,» says London-based designer Gina Gruenwald, «You always have to give your leather sole a good rubber base to make them last.» The base she is mentioning is something that a majority of luxury brands don’t do because a broken product means an opportunity to sell more items. According to Gruenwald, fashion items break due to bad fibre quality, a rush in production and a general lack of knowledge when it comes to clothing care. «I mend my wardrobe too, but in total, I think people don’t know how to mend,» she continues, «there are no sewing classes in the school curriculum anymore, and in general we undervalue female craftsmanship. In fashion, we focus on digital-only – we have lost touch with the physical.» Back in the day, sewing classes were a staple in the school curriculum. Now, mending is so rare that people have to make it a trend. Brands are seemingly catching up with the tendency to mend, Bottega Veneta started to offer a lifetime guarantee for their bags, to encourage longevity and repair over purchasing a new item.

@acteevism why mending clothing is SO improtant and a key part of sustainable fashion #mendingmatters #mending #fastfashion #sustainablefashion Chaise Longue - Wet Leg

The cobbler videos by Mandy Lee on TikTok have now reached over 200K impressions, which goes to show that those videos can inspire people to do the same. In her videos, she shows the before and after effects, which may blow someone’s mind. «They look brand new,» she says, holding her shoes into the camera after the small makeover. The colour matched, and most importantly, the cobbler didn’t close up the Tabi toe. «Mending could be a trend that has the potential to bring people back in touch with craftsmanship,» says Gruenwald. It might even be to the extent that people gain educational knowledge of how a garment is made and value our clothing with more care. Mending could be a new trend, but it has to go beyond the occasional trip to the cobbler. People need to learn simple skills and how to take care of their garments. It is as simple as Alec Leach said: we have to treat garments like relationships that we value and care for, instead of fleeting acquaintances.