Together for tomorrow


Repair what you wear

by | Jun 28, 2021

We know the devastation that comes when a piece of clothing you’ve loved is damaged. While this might mean the end of the items’ life, it doesn’t have to be. By mending it, you can instead give it another life.

Fast fashion brands often use cheap material to cut down costs, making clothes tear easily and forcing us to buy more, more frequently. However, by taking care of your clothes and mending them if and when they tear, you can increase the lifespan of your clothes and significantly reduce their negative environmental impact.

Repair What You Wear advocates that we mend and restore damaged clothes. They offer resources on basic sewing skills to teach people how to repair their own clothes. [See the detailed tutorial the organisation created below.] By mending your clothes you are extending its life and reducing waste that would end up in landfills. In her new book, Loved Clothes Last, the co-founder of Fashion Revolution Orsola de Castro writes, “We aren’t repurposing and mending clothes because we can’t afford to buy something new – we are doing it because we can’t afford to throw something away. What has made economic sense for previous generations will make environmental sense for generations to come.”


Whether it’s a rip in your jeans, stain or tear, you can fix it yourself by sewing it back or adding embroidery to jazz up a boring old pair of clothes. Whatever you decide to do, mending your clothes can be a fun pastime to take up, especially with the extra time at home with pandemic precautions.

Globally, 13 million tonnes of waste is created by the fashion industry annually. Most of this waste could have been recycled or reused.  The Ellen MacArthur Foundation describes a circular economy as a “systemic approach to economic development designed to benefit businesses, society, and the environment. In contrast to the ‘take-make-waste’ linear model, a circular economy is regenerative by design and aims to gradually decouple growth from the consumption of finite resources.” Essentially, instead of products ending up as waste, they’re cycled back into the economy and reused. A circular economy is one of the most widely accepted solutions for a sustainable future.

And so, by mending clothes, whether by simply fixing small tears that occur over time, or by upcycling it and turning an old badly damaged pair of jeans into shorts, you’re keeping clothes within the economy as opposed to throwing it away and creating waste.

Here are the basics of a mending kit:

However, while mending your own clothes can be liberating, not everyone has the time or the inclination to do it themselves. In this instance check with the brand from where you sourced the clothing: some clothing brands offer a tailoring service for damaged clothes bought from their store.

Here are a few that have already taken strides to challenge the linear fashion pipeline by offering repair services:


Stylish and sustainable, Ballo offers handmade eyewear made from recycled paper and wood offcuts. But their sustainable material is not where it ends. Ballo has recently added repairing services to their list. Now, each Ballo item has free repairs for life. Yes, you read that right.

For more information visit the Ballo website.


The stylish 501s is not all that Levis offers. Its dedication to sustainability provides an array of ways consumers can reduce their carbon footprint. With tailors employed at select stores, owners of beloved Levis demin can have clothes repaired in store.

For more information visit the Levis website


With each piece carefully handcrafted, PICHULIK connects with feminine ancestorial wisdom in their jewellery. Their refurbishment policy allows you to get any item of theirs fixed if it breaks after six months of purchase.

For more information visit the PICHULIK website


For over four decades, Reef has been one of the major suppliers of wetsuits in South Africa. Their wetsuits are made to last, and so every wetsuit has a lifetime guarantee to ensure your suit never has to be replaced.

For more information visit the Reef website.

  • Images: Creative Commons 
  • Illustration: ex Loved Clothes Last


Share this article:

Related Posts

Our work is in line with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals 12, which aims to ensure sustainable consumption and production. Read More