The massive social and culture influence of fashion cannot be denied, especially since, according to Fashion United, the industry has a labor force of 3.3 million. However, this huge number excludes one specific group: those who make their own clothes. The lockdown restrictions at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic saw an increase in upcycling, resale and increased consumption of DIY clothing supplies, indicating that more and more people are taking an interest in making and repairing their own clothes. There are multiple benefits to doing both.
It’s Environmentally Friendly
One of the biggest criticisms of fast fashion is the amount of waste produced. In 2017, the Ellen MacArthur Foundation found that more than $500 billion of value is lost every year due to clothing underutilization, proving that the overproduction of clothing and excessive purchasing habits are needlessly wasteful. Making your own clothes is an environmentally friendly alternative because you only use the amount of each material that you need and can be sure that you’ll wear each garment. The handmaking process also removes the need for transportation from factories, which produces air pollution and adds to the 8% of carbon emissions that the fashion industry alone is responsible for.
You Can Make Practically Anything
When buying clothing from stores, it can sometimes be difficult to find exactly what you’re looking for, especially if standardized sizing doesn’t fit as well as you’d like it to. Data indicates that the average American throws away about 81 pounds of clothing every year, which is another example of extreme wastefulness that also implies a general dissatisfaction with fast fashion. When making your own clothes, you can make practically anything, which allows you to personalize the look of garments and design them to fit your specific body type exactly. Knowing how much work you’ve put into making a piece of clothing might also dissuade you from throwing it away so quickly. Simply using a heavy duty sewing machine and your imagination is enough to help you make great clothes that support the environment at the same time.
It Can Be More Convenient
Getting clothes repaired by a professional is often a fairly expensive process and it takes a lot of time if you need the garment fixed in a hurry. Having someone else create or tailor your clothes can also waste time and money when it is possible to do it yourself. Simple repairs such as sewing on broken buttons or stitching up a loose pocket can be done easily by hand, with your sewing machine reserved for bigger tasks. You’ll be able to mend your clothes as soon as you notice issues and create something new whenever your clothes start to wear out. This hassle-free approach to making and repairing clothes will allow you to save the money that you would have originally spent on a tailor for something else.
It’s a Calming and Useful Hobby
Aside from the ethical and personal benefits, being able to make and repair your own clothes is a calming and useful hobby. Huge demographics embraced sewing during COVID-19 lockdowns for something to occupy their time and ended up developing an important life skill. It has certainly been proven that “young audiences don’t just want to buy more clothes [because] they want the opportunity to create unique pieces” (2), and what better way to get creative than to design and create your entire wardrobe? Rising environmental concerns also feed into the sustainable nature of homemade fashion, making it both a calming and an ethical hobby. Being able to repair any clothing item will always be useful in life, so more people should embrace handcrafting over fast fashion, even if it’s just for something relaxing to do.
With interests in making and repairing your own clothes on the rise, society is likely to see more and more people trying their hand at it. What starts off as a hobby can quickly become an essential life skill, especially in a world that needs us to make more eco-friendly choices. The biggest benefit of making your own clothes is that you can express your personality in every fiber (literally), something that is likely to boost confidence across all demographics. Even just being able to sew on a button is a skill, and all handcrafters are encouraged to start small and dream big. Soon, those dreams could become a completely personalized wardrobe that helps the environment and makes your life more convenient.