We meet a textiles expert who celebrates the mends that bring new life to old clothes
“Wear your darn as a badge of honour,” urges Tom van Deijnen (pictured above). The Brighton-based textiles expert has become known for his expertise in ‘visible mending’ – a technique that makes repairs to clothes look beautiful in their own right.
“I’ve always fixed up my clothes to varying degrees of success,” he says. “Ever since I started buying my own clothes as a teenager, I never bought them for just one season, even if they came from the high street. So mending then becomes a necessity.”
It was only later that he came to think more about this and to understand the hidden cost of clothes. “Growing the raw materials, the processes to turn them into fabric and then making clothes takes a lot of time and skill and effort – but as all this happens in remote countries now, we no longer appreciate all that.”
Repairing a garment prompts the owner to consider what it means to them, he suggests, and why they would like to keep on wearing it. “Perhaps it was a precious gift, or you wore it at a special occasion.”
Visible mending allows you to be creative and make mass-produced clothes unique
Van Deijnen particularly enjoyed repairing an old fisherman’s guernsey (a type of warm, hardwearing sweater), which a client had owned for many years. “It reminded her of her travels from South Africa to the Outer Hebrides, and it already had a few repairs. It was rather plain, but the original repairs and my additional repairs in a maroon yarn added new life to it.”
Under the banner of his Visible Mending Programme, van Deijnen runs a blog, shares inspirational mends on social media using the hashtag #visiblemending, and runs workshops too. “Visible mending allows you to be creative and make mass-produced clothes unique,” he enthuses.
In photos: making clothes repairs look beautiful
Featured image: Saskia de Feijter
Gallery images: Tom van Deijnen