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You heard it here first.
You’ll likely know by now that this month marks Secondhand September – an entire month dedicated to celebrating preloved, second-hand clothes and buying less fast fashion. So, when clothes repair site The Seam reached out to see if I wanted to give it a go, I jumped at the chance to try.
I’ve long been a fan of charity shops, borrowing from friends, and renting dresses – my family used to tease me at my ability to sniff out a charity shop wherever we went. But it’s something that I’m proud of now, as a Sustainability Editor. Fast fashion is the second biggest contributor to global emissions – worse than shipping and aviation combined – and if the current freak floods in Pakistan or latest IPCC “code red” climate change report is anything to go by – global warming is getting worse, and fast.
That’s why it’s important we all do our bit, reducing, reusing, repairing, and recycling. While I’m all for getting clothes upcycled, I’ll be honest and admit that until now, I always thought it was a bit of a faff.
I’ve had a bag of clothes and shoes to repair since (I’m not joking) 2019. Two pairs of my Mum’s old Gucci loafers, a pair of Levi’s that needed taking up, and a Burberry trench coat with two missing buttons have all been sitting sadly in our study waiting to be repaired – yet every time I Googled for clothes repair services near me, I came up short. Either I couldn’t find anywhere, or it was ridiculously expensive.
That’s where The Seam appeals to me – an on-demand tailoring service that makes connects users with trusted, specialist tailors and seamstresses from your local community. As their press release reads. “the mission is to shape a world where people wear their clothes repeatedly with pride, rather than consume a new piece of clothing for each and every occasion.”
So why repair your clothes instead of buying new? As founder Layla Sargent explains when I chat to her on the phone, one 2020 study found that each repaired item of clothing saves around 13.9 kg of carbon emissions. “We also know that 13 million items of used clothing end up in UK landfills every week. Extending the life of our wardrobes not only keeps clothing in circulation and out of landfill, but repositions the experience of fashion as not just one of buying and consuming, but of caring for our things and making them last,” she shares.
Keen to give it a go? Come along with me as I do just that.
I tried new repair site The Seam – why repairing your clothes is set to be one of the biggest trends of 2023
First up – a bit of background on The Seam for you. The Seam was founded in 2020 by Layla Sargent (her grandmother Patricia was a skilled dressmaker for sixty years). “When I moved to London in 2019, I soon discovered the chaos of trying to find a local tailor to alter my clothes,” shares Sargent. “Between the impersonality of high street dry cleaners and the exclusivity of Savile Row, none of the existing offerings felt quite right.”
I knew this feeling all too well – it was exactly how I’d felt when I tried to get my clothes repaired a few years earlier.
The site brings together a community of fashion graduates, talented grandmothers and tailors able to do both minimal alterations as well as made-to-measure, custom, and bespoke embellishments. Fun fact for you: since launching in 2020, the company has grown a community of over 2000 talented makers ready to help extend the longevity of your favourite pieces.
What was The Seam like?
So, what did I actually think of the service? (I chose to send in a pair of the loafers, FYI). It’s as simple as heading to the site, inputting my repair job – in this case, sole repair – and location, and finding a “maker” in my area. I choose one based on their reviews and specialisms.
They picked my shoes up from my house, but there’s also the option to post if you aren’t based in London. I liked that there was no dropping off of the shoes at an inconvenient location, and also that a handy report was sent to my inbox to detail what exactly needed doing and how much each step would cost.
When the shoes were dropped back off at my house, I was seriously impressed. They looked like totally new shoes, and the maker had gone above and beyond to make sure they were up to scratch. Watch below to see for yourself.
Pros, for me – we all have a responsibility to live more sustainably. This is one way of doing so. Giving your old clothes a new life can be fun, too.
Cons – it was a mid-range price point, but worth the investment for the service for me. To give an idea, the booking platform allows users access to these services for as little as £3.00 for a button repair. My shoes cost around £100 to fully resole and repair.
The Seam is currently available locally across London for in-person consultations and repairs, as well as across the UK via postal service. For more information, visit www.theseam.uk and you can find a price list here.