When an item of clothing is worn, it begins to show its age through a unique patina – threadbare areas, tears and holes are markers of a piece that has been much loved. These areas of damage don’t have to mean that a garment has reached the end of its life; instead, they can be repaired subtly or refreshed with visible mends.
Our repair specialists work to rescue any TOAST garment as part of our free Renewal service. Whether darned, reworked or visibly mended, each piece of clothing shows imprints of your movements. We would love to hear from you if you have had a special piece repaired by us; please do comment below.
Here, we share stories from three of our customers about their pieces, which have been reimagined with creative visible sashiko mends. Sashiko – meaning “little stabs” in Japanese – traces back to the Edo period, and refers to the small embroidered stitches used to reinforce clothing with patches, or piece together fabrics into a new garment.
After a few career moves, I now live in the southern suburbs of Glasgow where I am the pastoral assistant for my local parish church. Because I started this job just before the first lockdown in March 2020, a lot of my pastoral work has been outside on walks; that is why my yellow coat that I had repaired is so useful, as people recognise me from a distance so they can stop and chat. It’s the most beautiful rich colour – somewhere between gamboge and turmeric – and now, because I have been wearing it almost constantly for three years in all weathers, it has faded on the hood and the shoulders to a softer lemony yellow.
I wore it almost every day since it arrived, so I was extremely unhappy when I ripped it. I had a fall on a stony beach and as I threw out my hand to catch myself and suddenly there was a 40cm rip right down the side. When I surveyed the damage, it looked like I would have to find a replacement coat, but I had attended a repair workshop with TOAST last year so I knew there was a commitment to mending. I was thrilled to find the offer of free repair, for any TOAST garment.
Emily, the repair specialist at the Edinburgh shop, has turned the long gash into a little landscape of stitches, echoing the soft lemon of the more faded parts of the coat. I was happy to leave this in Emily’s hands. I was able to provide a good match for the patching fabric, but an expert was needed. She reinforced the corner of the pocket, the weakest point, with a lovely block of stitches like a bold stroke of lemon paint. I love the fact that my scarred coat is still with me and that it is now unique. I also suspect that there may be more mends needed in the future, that it will become more and more unique as time goes on.
I live on a narrowboat in east London with a kitten for company, who is quickly learning how to be an excellent boat cat. I work as a cookbook editor at Bloomsbury Publishing so I always have a new recipe to try out and I spend much of my time cooking, growing a little of what I eat on the boat roof or doing one of an endless list of boat jobs.
I bought the dress I had repaired with TOAST Renewal in 2016, and I wear it most weeks throughout the year. Living on a boat means I have limited wardrobe space! It’s thin enough to be cool in summer, and layers well with big sweaters in winter. It’s my most reliable piece of clothing and always makes me feel comfortably like myself. I’ve worn it to interviews and meetings, dates and parties and on muddy winter walks – I even wore it when I needed to fix a problem with my boat's engine once.
The dress is meant to be dry clean only, but with the amount I wear it I've always washed it in the machine. Because of this it has shrunk a little over time, most noticeably in the sleeve length, which is probably the reason the tear formed in the underarm. I requested that the repair didn't particularly draw attention to the area, but otherwise left repair specialist Jess to mend it how she liked. I was so delighted with the result using tiny sashiko stitches and a patch of patterned fabric. It's creative, unique and a little playful, but subtle enough that only I know it's there. I'm thrilled to get many more years of wear from it, safe in the knowledge that any future damage can be repaired and just adds to its history.
I doubt a day passes without me being dressed in something from TOAST and that can include garments that are 20 years old. I live close to the Westbourne Grove, Notting Hill shop which is where I had my repair done by repair specialist Maria. I first found out about TOAST Renewal when I was in the shop for a daytime event with repair specialist and artist Molly Martin. I also previously had a beautiful repair done by textile artist Celia Pym for her exhibition there a few years ago.
I used to be a film editor but as I no longer work, I lounge a lot these days and the trousers I had repaired were a key part of that costume – some soft cotton churidar (slim trousers traditionally worn under a tunic in South Asia). They are incredibly comfortable, being cut on the nap.
When I came to see if they could be mended they had worn through in several places. I was amazed and delighted when I came back to get them as Maria had found a lovely check in the same weight to patch in and reinforce the fabric. On the outside she had delicately hand stitched, as small and evenly as any machine, across the whole area. I wear them again happily and with the confidence that they won’t tear again easily.
Bring any TOAST clothing item in need of repair to one of our shops and discuss our free TOAST Renewal mending options with a TOAST Shop colleague. If you are able to visit TOAST Bath, Edinburgh, London Newburgh Street, Carnaby, London Notting Hill, London Shoreditch or Oxford, you have the opportunity to spend time with a repair expert to discuss creative mending options, learning the best approach for extending the lifespan of your garment.
See a selection of garments mended by our TOAST Renewal repair specialists in the windows of all our shops, until Fri 4 March.