by Mary Farrington February 13, 2024 3 min read
In the era of fast fashion, the idea of repairing clothes often feels antiquated. Fabric rips, buttons pop, zippers fail, and we're conditioned to see these garments as disposable, destined for the landfill. But workwear, the gear that accompanies us through the grind and grime of our daily life, deserves a different fate. It's an investment, a shield against the elements and hazards of the job. Before you relegate a ripped pair of work pants to a donation or rubbish pile, consider the power of repair and what you can do to get them back in the field.
Workwear often utilizes industrial-grade materials and techniques to restore garments to their original function and durability. Here are some of the ways garments can be repaired.
Patching: tears and rips are common in workwear. Expert menders can patch torn fabrics using materials that match the original garment's weight, weave, and tear resistance. Any patches used should cover the entire damaged area and extend slightly past those edges for added strength. Double stitching, zigzagging patterns, and other stitching techniques, can be most useful for patching since they will ensure a tighter bond between the original fabric and the new addition.
Hardware Replacement: broken zippers, popped buttons, and loose snaps can render a garment unstable or unusable. Even with heavy duty hardware designed to withstand the rigors of the job, sometimes these need to be replaced or adjusted for optimal performance. Specialized tools and professional help are often needed for these repairs, since using the right equipment and ensuring proper installation are keys to the workwear functioning smoothly on the job.
Seam Restitching: over time, seams can loosen or fray. Restitching, often with reinforced thread, can restore a garment's structural integrity and prevent further damage. The right thread thickness, stitch pattern, and industrial-grade machines are crucial for a restitch that's stronger than the original, truly extending the life of your workwear rather than allowing it to fall apart all over again.
A growing number of workwear companies are embracing the concept of repairability, weaving it into the fabric of their brand and encouraging their customers to participate. These repair programs acknowledge the inherent value of well-made workwear and offer an alternative to the unsustainable cycle of buy-discard-replace.
It's not always possible to repair a piece of workwear. Sometimes it gets too worn out, the patches end up bigger than the original fabric, or it just wasn't built to withstand the hard work. So, what should you look for in any new workwear to make sure it has the best chance at a long life on the job?
Stitching: double check that key seams are double-stitched or have thicker threads. This adds strength and increases the tear resistance of the garment.
Reinforced Stress Points: make sure areas like the knees, elbows, and pockets are reinforced with additional fabric or padding. Gussets also add flexibility and can keep the garment in the field longer. Pants should always have a gusseted crotch to prevent blow outs, but look for additional details like gusseted armpits for added range of motion in your sweatshirts and tops.
As a consumer, understanding the full potential of your workwear can help you make better choices and save money in the long run. Look for brands that prioritize repairability or offer these services to their customers. Research the materials and construction techniques used in each garment, and don't shy away from asking questions before you purchase.
Repairing workwear is more than just patching holes. It's a declaration of respect for the quality of craftsmanship and the resources that went into making each garment. It's a conscious choice to embrace a more sustainable relationship with your clothes. By choosing repairable workwear, opting for professional repairs when needed, and making more proactive choices, we can all extend the lives of our workwear, save money, and reduce the environmental impact of the industry.
If you would like to file a repair claim for any of your 1620 Workwear, click here.
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