Young Britons sew their own clothes

LONDON—From tracksuits to summer dresses, Lea Baecker has sewn most of her wardrobe herself from her London apartment, one of a growing number of young amateur seamstresses.

Like many others in the growing horde of couture enthusiasts, she grew increasingly disillusioned with the retail clothing industry, seeing it as too destructive.

“My main motivation was not having to buy ready-to-wear anymore because I didn’t want to support fast fashion,” said Baecker, 29, referring to clothes made and sold cheaply to be thrown away. after minimal use.

The neuroscience doctoral student only started sewing in 2018, starting with small bags before moving on to clothes.

polluting sector

Four years later, she estimated that around 80% of the clothes in her wardrobe were homemade, from pajamas to long fleece coats, as well as jeans made with denim scraps salvaged from relatives.

Wearing one of her long, hand-sewn dresses, Baecker said she now buys new clothes “very rarely.”

The fashion and textile industry is the third most polluting sector in the world after food and construction, accounting for up to 5% of greenhouse gas emissions, according to a 2021 report by the World Economic Forum .

Low-cost fashion retailers are regularly criticized for their waste and pollution, as well as the conditions of their workers’ wages.

Tara Viggo has worked in the industry for 15 years as a pattern maker.

“I realized how big the fashion industry worked and it was kind of terrifying,” she said.

In 2017, Viggo decided to create its own patterns – the blueprint drawings on paper before the garments were made.

She started small, selling only about one set of designs a year, a far cry from the four a day she was churning out in the ready-to-wear industry.

Viggo agrees that independent operators like her were just tiny competitors to the big brands, but said they could still have a significant impact.

“Once you know how to sew your own clothes, you can’t imagine a shirt should cost £3 ($4.10),” she said.

Online platform

Viggo’s “Zadie” jumpsuit is now a top seller on “The Fold Line,” an online platform selling independently produced sewing patterns, according to co-founder Rachel Walker.

Since its launch in 2015, the website has grown from around 20 designers to more than 150 today.

Rosie Scott and Hannah Silvani, who run a London workshop selling fabric from fashion designers’ unsold items, have also seen tailoring’s resurgence in popularity, particularly among young people.

Scott noted that women make up over 90% of their customer base.

Orders have skyrocketed during the pandemic and are still going strong even after restrictions were lifted, Scott said.

The industry’s explosive growth wouldn’t have been possible without Instagram, where the sewing community has made a pastime once considered old-fashioned much trendier. —AFP

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