London repair services to restore and revive your clothes
Sustainable repair services are all the rage. Here's where to get your clothes fixed in London – and where to learn some mending skills of your own
As people try to maximise what's in their own wardrobes instead of shopping for new pieces, a modern-day 'make do and mend' movement is growing. London has an impressive offering of resources when it comes to stitching, cleaning, restoring and repairing our wares – as well as a number of textile experts offering to teach us their skills. Here are the new sustainable repair trends and addresses to know….
Molly Martin hosts visible mending workshops and works as a textile repairer for brands like egg and TOAST
Visible mending and sashiko repair
At one time a patched garment might have provoked feelings of embarrassment, but these days people wear their repaired garments as badges of pride. 'Visible mending' is the art of using hand-embroidery to repair a rip or tear. The patterned stitches used by crafters to mend clothing are beautiful and – crucially – noticeable.
Image: Molly Martin
Slow fashion brands have adopted visible mending techniques in their stores: textile repairer and freelance illustrator Molly Martin repairs delicate tears on fine silk fabrics from slow fashion brand egg on Kinnerton Street, which she takes back to her Brixton studio to work on.
She also hosts repair workshops at Selvedge and TOAST, where she's currently on a repair workshop tour, teaching her hand repair methods to customers at TOAST stores around the UK. You can still book onto her course on how to craft a sashiko needle case at Ray-Stitch in December 2019. (You can also book in for a private repair workshop, or get in touch if any of your garments need a bit of TLC.)
Visible mending comes from the Japanese technique of sashiko, a running-stitch technique involving white thread that goes back centuries – handily, it is both practical and decorative. The Japanese boro technique is another repair style that's gaining prominence, involving pieces of patched and stitched-together fabric.
Sashiko tools and fabrics at Fabrications. Photo: Rob Jones
If you're in Hackney, head to Fabrications (7 Broadway Market, Hackney, E8 4PH), where Barley Massey and Rob Jones teach a range of useful skills on Tuesday evenings and Saturday afternoons each month, including sashiko and boro mending techniques and introductions to hand sewing repairs for fabric items and woollen items – available to book in October and November.
One more: Dorit Young is a London-based milliner who hosts Clothes Clinic mending and upcycling classes at Crabtree & Evelyn. (She's also available for more trickier repairs involving hand stitching.)
The Restory's Revival Package at Harvey Nichols
Luxury shoe and handbag aftercare
Every time you invest in a new statement bag or pair of shoes at Harvey Nichols, you can benefit from the brand's collaboration with leading luxury aftercare specialists for shoes and handbags, The Restory. Harvey Nichols x The Restory has launched at Harvey Nicks stores nationwide, and customers can sign up to The Revival Package, which gives you access to aftercare for shoes (£120) or bags (£250) for 18 months after purchase. This covers everything from heel repairs to repainting scuff marks on a leather bag. Plus, it's super convenient – just drop off and pick up the items in-store.
Luxe garment cleaning products from Attire Care
For the ultimate at-home garment and shoe care, look no further than luxe cleaning brand Attire Care which has specialist products for fabrics such as denim and leather, as well as stain removers for ink and red wine.
Sneaker cleaning from CUTT London
If you want to show your trainers some special love, try a specialist company. CUTT London is a sneaker-cleaning and restoration specialist, which collects trainers from your home, makes the look good as new, and drops them back to you. The service costs £35 for a premium clean (72-hour turnaround) and £55 for premium express (24-hour turnaround).
The rise of the repair café
Clothing isn't the only thing whose life cycle we're trying to prolong: The Goodlife Centre, in southeast London, has workshops on everything from furniture restoration and woodworking to upholstery and basic DIY and maintenance. The centre also hosts community repair events – Repair Cafés – as does The Restart Project – often with an emphasis on fixing broken electronics and small appliances.
The School of Stuff offers evening classes in upholstery, cabinet making and furniture restoration, as well as furniture upcycling (découpage and paint techniques), and upholstery taster weekends (where you can learn how to traditionally upholster a drop-in seat). Studio Saturday sessions are ideal for anyone with broken furniture – bring a piece in and they'll teach you how to repair it.