Volume 5, Article 33, 2013
|Title:||A Stitch in Time: Changing Cultural Constructions of Craft and Mending|
|Affiliation:||University of Arts, London, UK|
|No. of pages:||17|
|View Article:||View Article (PDF); References (HTML)|
Over the course of the twentieth century, the availability of cheap, mass-produced fashion has contributed to a decline in everyday domestic mending skills. Indeed, as mass-manufactured goods have become cheaper for the global population it has become normative consumer behaviour to dispose of any item that is less than per-fect, even when the damage is entirely superficial, leading Clark to claim that: ‘mending has died out’ (2008: 435).
However, in recent years there has been an apparent revival in domestic mending, aided and evidenced by the emergence of sewing and mending groups in the UK, mainland Europe and North America. This has coincided with a growing interest in more sustainable material goods (McDonough & Braungart 2002; Fletcher 2008), and a small body of academic work around the notion of craftsmanship (e.g. Sennett 2008; Crawford 2009). Of particular interest here is the history of mending of clothing and household goods, as well as recent incarnations of mending as both an individual and group activity. In the past year, researchers from diverse theoretical backgrounds have also highlighted the role of mending in everyday material goods providing further insights into the subject (Laitala & Boks 2012; Middleton 2012; Portwood-Stacer 2012).
An examination of mending reveals a complex picture in which gender, class, aesthetics and social motivations interweave with the imperatives of consumer culture. Whilst historically it is generally constructed as a feminine activity, and carried connotations of material deprivation, contemporary mending is often motivated by environmental concerns and a desire to reduce consumption. Ultimately, mending is demonstrated to be an under-researched subject loaded with cultural meaning, and ultimately, is shown to be anything but a trivial activity.
|Keywords:||Mending, domestic work, gender, sustainability, labour, leisure, skills|