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.
Lost and found
"I think everything I am wearing has been passed down. And, my scarf. My scarf I found it in a gutter, in front of my house one day. I needed a scarf, so I went and I washed it. I have had this, for a good six, seven years, and I’ve never had any other scarves. I am not a scarf wearer but I seem to use this one all the time.
I am from South Africa originally and I grew up in a boarding school there and things always got passed down to me, so I’d keep on fixing things. So, I do my own hemming and I used to do it all by hand since I was very young. Nobody taught me to sew. I bought my needle and thread… people were always fixing things around school. I have got two older brothers, they would give the stuff they don’t wear anymore and pass it down.
Or [my clothes] have been [in the] lost and found [box]. People leave stuff behind and I could fix them and wear them. If I needed a new jersey or whatever, I would go [to lost and found] and usually what would happens is those V neck school jerseys, the V neck comes loose… it starts tearing open and it doesn’t look very good and people would just throw it down and I would just take a sewing needle and would just sew that little V up again. A lot of the times, it was all stretched out in the cuffs and I would just like do the inner cuffs. This jacket, I lined it myself. This is second time I lined it… There’s three different panels. The left side is just the original. But that’s coming loose, I need to fix it again."
Vancouver - February 2013
Photograph by Jeremy Calhoun