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This shop is repairing the future of fashion

Words by Abi Scaife

If you want to start being more sustainable with your clothing but have no idea where to start, look no further than StitchedUp.

Over the last 10 years, StitchedUp has gone from a group of friends, passionate about sustainable fashion, to a community benefit society empowering people to make better choices for the planet.

“We want to inspire people to take action in whatever way they can - [to] start from where they are with what they have,” explains Bryony, one of the founders of StitchedUp. “We want to encourage people that they might want to mend some of their clothes before they chuck them away - or try swapping instead of shopping on Saturday.”

Sustainable fashion choices have become more and more mainstream in recent years - from shopping secondhand to sharing mending videos on TikTok. This is all thanks to the truth that is becoming more widely talked about: a lot of our current fashion practices aren’t sustainable, or even particularly ethical. 

To get the cheap prices we see in shops in the UK, brands have to cut corners elsewhere, outsourcing to other countries where they pay workers a lower wage, and often even employ child labourers.

“I think people often think ‘we need cheap clothes and some people in the UK are in poverty’, which is absolutely true. Lots of people can't afford clothes, but … that's an issue that needs fixing here,” says Bryony, passionately. “It doesn't need fixing through the exploitation of labour in another country.”

So that’s the problem with fashion. But, what are the solutions? Even Bryony craves the ‘new clothes’ feeling - and she’s come up with some great workarounds.

“Even though I don't buy new clothes, I still do need newness in my wardrobe,” admits Bryony. “So we try and help people find that in a way that doesn't involve extracting more resources from the planet or buying clothes that have been made through labour exploitation.”

StitchedUp runs different events designed to make it easier for you to express yourself through fashion - without the guilt. One of their big attractions includes their mending workshops.

“The physical mending workshops that we do are all about wearing repairs with pride and making it a beautiful thing that you can be proud of and that you can be glad to wear … which changes the way you think about your clothes,” says Bryony. “If you spent time fixing something … you do end up feeling more attached to it, because you've invested your time in that thing or that garment or whatever it is.”

If you aren’t particularly crafty, or you just have no idea where to start with all of this stuff - Bryony has some advice for you, too.

“[If] there's a local group you can join, go to a class, go to a repair cafe, because you when you get to these events, you meet other people that are the same as you,” says Bryony. “Having the same thoughts and have the same questions in their mind - you can be inspired by both their motivations, [and] also the stuff that they're fixing and techniques they're using.”

Additionally, StitchedUp has partnered with a number of charities and organisations to help support people outside of their small, local community. From supporting refugee women and those who are experiencing homelessness, to working with schools, StitchedUp is determined to give back - however they can. 

At their shop in Stretford, StitchedUp sells reclaimed fabrics that have been donated by dressmakers and local manufacturers. Even the tiniest remnants are put on sale because, as Bryony has discovered, one person’s fabric trash really is another person’s crafty treasure.

Life at StitchedUp has so many avenues for personal expression through fashion, and so much inspiration for ways to make ethical choices, that it attracts all kinds of people from all walks of life. From budding fashionistas to crafters on the hunt for something new, to mums wanting to switch out their charity shop weekend for a Saturday spent swapping, there’s something for everyone.

“Each week is quite varied,” admits Bryony. “But it's all focused on that same theme of trying to inspire people to take action through choosing secondhand, reusing, repairing, just keeping stuff in use for longer.”

This article aligns with the UN SDG Responsible Consumption and Production.

This article aligns with the following UN SDGs

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