Sew what for sustainability? Exploring intergenerational attitudes and practices to clothing repair in Ireland.
While a traditional practice, clothing repair has recently garnered more attention from geographers and social scientists examining potential pathways to increase sustainable consumption and contribute to a circular economy. Clothing repair is fundamentally about extending the active life of garments and is a key phase of a closed-loop system effectively reducing the need for virgin resources thus avoiding clothing obsolescence or disposal as waste. Repair as a societal phenomenon in Ireland is an under-researched topic, this paper aims to explore the potential of an experiencecentred perspective to advance understandings of current attitudes to and practices of clothing repair.
This research study employs innovative wardrobe studies and practice theoretical approaches to provide a snapshot of lived intergenerational practices of everyday clothing wear, care, and repair in Ireland. The findings reported in this paper relate
specifically to clothing repair and arise from empirical in-depth interviews which took place in participants’ own homes and in, or in close proximity to, their wardrobes. The paper highlights the complex multidimensional impact that attachment, memories,
and materiality play in user decisions to repair, or not to repair, a garment, and associated decisions related to clothing discard. The paper unpacks intergenerational competencies and confidences in undertaking everyday clothing repair, user-repair
cultures, and sewing skills. The discussion concludes with a critical consideration of findings in the context of wider debates surrounding sustainable clothing consumption and the circular economy.
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