Saturday, August 16, 2008

Can This Suit Be Saved?

As I type, Franklin is off to the other side of our sprawling metropolis, to visit a reputable tailor said to be able to reweave men's suits.

Among those who go green, I often feel like the Greenes are an awkward fit.  I'm married to a guy who is a little bit Wall Street; a $1000 suit is not an indulgence, but a staple of his work wardrobe.  He bought this particular suit in an end-of-season sale from an upscale local men's shop - by our criteria, it was both frugal and fit our definition of responsible shopping.

Anyhow, this immaculately tailored creation met a sorry fate.  Franklin sat down at an event on a folding chair, and when he stood up, discovered that he'd caught - and torn - the jacket.

Some searching turned up a tailor with a reputation for repairing such mishaps.  In between identifying the tailor and this morning's trip, an opportunistic moth family snacked on the poor jacket, which we'd stored in our spare closet, which is apparently a smorgasbord for hungry heterocera.

Reweaving is not the kind of thing that most people do.  (And it might not be possible, given the damage.)  Suit jackets routinely get tossed in garbage bags, I'm sure.  But we're willing to give it a try.  We have also re-soled shoes and re-lined jackets.

The trick is that in order to make the investment in repair, you have to have made an investment in the first place.  You have to believe that the effort to fix something outweighs the ease of replacing it.  It's a shift in thinking.

But it reminds me of the mantras repeated in Aldous Huxley's distopian Brave New World.  Ending is better than mending.  The more stitches, the less riches.  Repair was contrary to the happy little consumer culture in which the Alphas, Betas, Gammas, Deltas and Epsilons lived in their biologically pre-determined castes.

It's a little scary to think that repairing your clothing - and that buying classic clothing worthy of repair in the first place - is a subversive act.  But it's amazing how often we don't consider it a choice.

At the end of my son's nursery school year, I noticed that his lunch box was much the worse for wear.  I contemplated replacing it - but after about 10 minutes with my favorite Seventh Generation dish liquid and a sponge, it looks just about new.  What possessed me to consider tossing it in the garbage can?  I guarantee it would've taken far longer to get a new one than to clean up the current - and beloved - Stripey the Tiger lunch box.

Let's hope the tailors have good news for Franklin.

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