We love mending, remaking, reusing and repairing here at Offset Warehouse and so we were really pleased to hear about TRAID’s “Second Hand First” week! To celebrate and raise awareness, we thought we’d invite mending legend: Brandy Nicole Easter.
“Mending legend?!” I hear you say! YES! Brandy is a real inspiration when it comes to saving the planet one mended jumper (and turtle soap-dispenser) at a time. I’ll also show you some of her absolutely incredible mending projects, and chat to her about why it is so important to her to revitalise these items some would throw away. Why not meet this inspiring lady in the flesh at a mending workshop later this month?
Hello! I am Brandy Nicole Easter, a keen upcycler, mender and general opportunist when it comes to waste and broken things. Whilst studying at Central Saint Martins, I became a bit disillusioned with the fashion industry when I discovered ethical injustices and the vast amount of waste created by fashion production and consumption. This led me to pave my own way upon graduating, working as a freelance designer, maker, upcycler and workshop teacher, maintaining my own small womenswear brand. But what I want to talk to you about today is waste!
Rather than barrage you with facts about how much rubbish fashion produces (you can read about UK textile waste here), I will share my personal story and images of salvaged objects. I have always fixed things whenever possible as I grew up in a household where you reused things and repaired broken items until they were no longer fixable. So, when I got a job sorting at a textile recycling factory, I witnessed an incredible amount of clothes waste and I was appalled. Somehow reading about it wasn’t the same as seeing it in real life. At that moment, I started to hoard damaged clothes and fabrics such as paint splattered bed sheets. It broke my heart to let these things go when I could envision such possibility in everything.
This experience inspired me to repair more than I ever had before. I developed my darning skills further, embroidered and printed over stains, and upcycling materials as usual. I began to feel a real joy in repairing things and a closer connection to the clothes. When you take the time to mend things you tend to value them more which in turn gives them a longer life.
On one occasion I bought a moth-eaten skirt from TRAID that I absolutely love. I knew at the time I got it that I would be taking a long haul flight, so I prepped my travel bag with said skirt, a needle, and embroidery threads. Before my departure, I patched the backside of the skirt under each hole to stabilise it. Then, I set off embroidering in the terminal and on the plane. I am a bit of a serial travel embroiderer/darner/crocheter and there is no lack of funny looks from fellow travelers but I do hope I have inspired a few.
I don’t just stop with clothing repair as I also fix up cracked mugs, sunglasses, plates, etc. For example, I acquired this turtle soap dispenser from my grandmother. I’m pretty sure it had been in the house before I was born and somehow I ended up bringing it back to London with me last year. Sadly one day I knocked it over and it fell onto the tile floor, breaking one of the legs. I wasn’t happy about it but I knew it’d be an easy fix, so I got my Sugru out and put that leg back on!
I’ll admit I have a favourite broken thing: knitwear. Perhaps it’s because knits so often get holes particularly in London where there is a big issue with moths. Currently I’m darning a jumper that someone washed with denim jeans. The metal teeth of the zip and a pull took quite a few bites out of the poor jumper. I used two tones and variety of colours which turned out very nicely. The darning is visible so they can be enjoyed just as much as a badge or print on a garment.
If you’re interested in mending knits like I am, please join my knit repair workshop at the TRAID shop in Peckham, London on the 28th of November. Book your tickets here.