A Garment Mending Journey: Once Upon A Mend In Ashby

Mummery, Ismay (2023). A Garment Mending Journey: Once Upon A Mend In Ashby. Postgraduate Research Poster Competition, The Open University.


Circular fashion is a practical solution to reducing carbon emissions from the fashion industry where resources are maintained for as long as possible through cycles of use and reuse. Many garments are discarded ending up in landfill or incineration, even though repair could extend active use. Repair of garments has a greater reduction in environmental impacts than recycling making it a priority for Net Zero initiatives.

Communities can be key in establishing new sustainable ways of thinking and doing by residents influencing, encouraging, and learning from one another. Place-based research can reveal hidden aspects that can help or hinder sustainable practices from flourishing by working with local people invested in the area who can contribute important insights. Clothing activities have been researched within particular places, but none specifically on garment-mending which this study
aims to address by answering the above and following questions:

Who are the stakeholders in the garment mending ecosystem?
What is currently being mended in repair contexts?
What are the barriers and enablers to garment mending?
What strategies increase reach and scope of garment mending?
What practices embed mending?

A literature review identified studies that captured data on garment mending, both qualitative and quantitative. Many focused on mending practices of the public, some on their own mending practices, and others on repair professionals. This study will uniquely look at all the stakeholder’s perspectives on mending practices in different communities on and offline.

Preliminary work has included desk research into the current mending landscape, on and offline spaces it exists in and what resources, strategies, and support there are for mending practices. A walking tour
methodology and visits to mending groups and repair cafes provided initial insights and areas for further study. The second phase of the study will further combine observations and interviews with informal discussions and walking tours to investigate where garment mending happens, who is engaged in it and why and how they can be supported and developed. This will create a rich picture of the mending landscape to help understand the different perspectives of the stakeholders and structures of a garment-mending ecosystem, with the overall aim of increasing the uptake of mending practices.

Findings will inform the design and implementation of targeted mending workshops in the local area to explore and test emerging research themes and to capture further data across the mending practices ecosystem. The analysis of research data will support the development of new policy recommendations tackling textile waste and inform the development of a template/s for garment mending workshops and a resource library to support their implementation.

Potential beneficial outcomes of this work will include upskilling and skill-sharing in communities as well as insights for repair professionals, fashion brands and charity shops to better facilitate garment mending in their business scope. Alongside these strategic aims, it is hoped that participants will be able to enjoy wearing their newly mended clothes with a greater appreciation of the expertise that goes into making them and newfound knowledge of materials and tools.

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