I don’t know when was it exactly I started thinking about what I wear, not so much in the fashion sense, but more on the ethical side of things.
Maybe it emerged from the casual conversations during craft markets with my friend, Amy, who always professes her love for linen clothes. Maybe it was when I sewed my first garment and fell in love with the sense of satisfaction of wearing my own made clothes. Or maybe it was when I discovered the term Visible Mending through textile practitioner, TomofHolland, while reading an article n Uppercase magazine.
(To explain how linen clothes points towards ethics: Linen is one of those “Green Fibres” due to it longevity and how quickly it grows without the need for copious amounts of pesticides. In comparison, the popular fibre, cotton, also consumes enormous amounts of water to grow, which makes linen more eco-friendly.)
Whenever it started, it is definitely something I have started thinking about recently. Being someone who works so much with fabrics and textiles, I am naturally interested in where and how these materials I handle daily come from.
So when I came across this video filmed at Sagnlandet Lejre, Historical Archaeological Research and Communication Center, Denmark, which explains how textiles are made from plant to the final woven piece, it opened my eyes.
It is such a tedious process but yet so inspiring to think who invented/ discovered how to make textiles! Of course, I am sure today’s textile industry has simplified the primitive process with the help of mechanization, but the process is no less easy.
Which leads me to think about what I wear. When chancing upon this article, I began thinking about slow fashion and what it means to be a conscious consumer.
It wasn’t too far back when I was concerned about being seen wearing the same clothes over and over again. So what changed? Why are we led to constantly need to buy a new wardrobe every new fashion trend (or season change) when it leads to so much textile waste? The same textiles that goes through that long process to become clothes.
Now I have begun to realise, it is ok to wear clothes repeatedly, and let them get worn and faded with each wear. There are always ways of mending. In fact, I am excited to try out visible mending, to highlight the age of my favourite pieces. It is also a nice opportunity to put my embroidery skills to work.
Reading about Boro fabrics from Japan, that follows the “ancient Japanese tradition of making do and mending.” It is interesting to note how much history can be woven into these mendings. It is akin to my love for old buildings. There isn’t always a need to raze them from the ground, instead think about restoring and highlighting areas of their historical structure. It will take time to change the mindset, but I am going to start thinking the same about clothes.