To repair a garment and keep it in active service is to practice the skill of user-ship. It calls upon human senses to diagnose what needs to be done and the right emotional tone to carry it through. Stitching, darning, patching and remodelling oversee a subtle shift in the power relations associated with garments: for the work of mending, unlike the world of production, is about people not machines.
"This is a sweater that I [got] from my former wife and it became a sort of a travelling sweater and it’s a funny garment because you know, she wanted me to stay and it became the garment in which I’ve travelled all the world around and as it has broken I have mended it somehow. I’ve replaced the arms as they’ve got worn out with these leg warmers and now mending it more and more and in more places and sometimes it in the right colour, sometimes not. And I don’t really know why I continuously mend it… a sense that I cannot go back if you understand how I mean… It’s a very dear sweater that just keeps falling apart and keeps on being mended… it’s sort of a continuous affection. You stitch up holes that perhaps you should leave to fall apart but you keep on, you keep on stitching them up, you keep on holding it together somehow. But it is, I think that’s a beautiful part with repair; that you add a certain attention to that memory of something. You know, you let things have a second life which speaks totally opposite of fashion because fashion is never about affection… it should be ephemeral. Fashion should take you somewhere, it shouldn’t bring you backwards. That’s why you buy new garments, so that’s why you dress up before a job interview or something because you’re gong to present your future self, your promising self and not your historical self… Still after all these years I still think it’s a damn good looking sweater with these arms and it’s an ingenious move to make them far too long..."
San Francisco - April 2011
Photograph by Paige Green