Years ago people made do and mended out of necessity, but out of this grew a love for darning, hand-stitching, patching and fixing old and worn garments. Today things have changed, and the invaluable skills that our mothers and grandmothers once learned are being lost in a world in which replacing an old or damaged jumper can cost as little as a coffee.
While it's true that we do spend a smaller proportion of our incomes on clothing than we did 50 years ago, we now also consume in huge quantities. Gone are the days our grandparents remember; of saving for months for a new pair of shoes and making do in the meantime.
There is hope though, for a more sustainable fashion industry, and there are people out there encouraging new ways (or should we say old ways) of thinking. Christine Mayer is one of them, teaching the art of garment upcycling; the creative reuse of worn and used fabrics. She gives people the opportunity and skills to work with old and loved fabrics and to re-imagine them as brand new garments.
Her most recent collection has been made entirely from recycled fabric with a lot of love. As she puts it, she wants her clothes to ‘embrace the people who wear them’. What we appear to have lost over time is the attachment to and love for our clothing, and through her work Mayer reminds us of the great tenacity of this connection.
Christine Mayer will lead one of Selvedge's residential workshops next summer at Chateau Dumas. Click here for more information about her workshop 'Free Draping: A New Purpose For Vintage Textiles'.
For more on upcycling take a look at our ‘Green’ issue.
For more on Mayer read our ‘Localisation’ issue.