Mending and repairing

Mending and repairing
Author: Konig, Anna (24 October 2023)


Largely ignored by scholars of fashion and clothing, an investigation of the history of garment repair and maintenance reveals a series of fascinating discourses that can be utilized to critique the development of the fashion industry. The aim of this chapter, therefore, is not only to map out manifestations of clothing mending and repair activities between 1800 and the present day, but to further consider the social and economic value of those practices and their relevance to the fashion system of the twenty-first century. In doing so, this chapter presents a complex picture of mending in which gender, class, economics, and aesthetics interweave with the evolution of the problematic global fashion system that we have today. The subject is approached by initially addressing some key issues around researching the subject and then moves chronologically through the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, before considering mending in its contemporary contexts. While historically, mending has typically been perceived as a domestic, feminine activity of low cultural value that carries connotations of material deprivation, today it can be understood as a cultural phenomenon that holds both social significance and potential solutions to the practical problems of the fashion industry.

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