"People gather for stranger things, so why not this?": Learning Sustainable Sensibilities through Communal Garment-Mending Practices

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This study uses a sociomaterial practice theoretical lens to explore the learning processes and outcomes of non-professional menders emerging through their participation in communal mending workshops. Recent years have witnessed an emergence of repair workshops that seek to provide an alternative to the make-take-waste paradigm dominating the fast fashion industry in most Western countries. The paper is based on three months of extensive fieldwork in six repair workshops in two cities in New Zealand (Auckland and Wellington). Thirty-five in-depth interviews, eight follow-up surveys and field notes from participant observations were used to collect data. A triangulation of the methods and open coding helped identify three types of learning streams from the data: material learning, communal learning, and environmental learning. The learned outcomes aided in equipping participants with knowledge of how to mend, extend use of existing garments, address alternatives to garment disposal, create feelings of caring, self-reliance and empowerment in communities, and differentiate between good- and bad-quality garments. In this way, communal workshops help users to be more proactive in providing sustainable local solutions to global ecological problems and create diversified learning around sociomaterial and ecological aspects of garments and their use. This could potentially create awareness of the importance of buying better and more durable garments in the future to keep them longer in use.


Original languageEnglish
Article number2218
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 28 Jun 2018
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

    Research areas

  • learning, mending, sociomaterial practice, sustainability, fashion use

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