MEET STUDIO MEND W/ SUNNIVA
Studio Mend tackles the problem of clothing waste by extending the life of clothes that our precious to us. Our throw away consumer culture these days means we tend to see a stain or hole as the end of life for our clothes. But through visible mending techniques Sunniva shows us that this is in fact a chance for them to be re-born, turning imperfections in to an opportunity to make something more beautiful and unique, to be treasured for longer. As Studio Mend launch their first collection for sale on PARO we caught up with founder Sunniva Amber Flesland to get an inside track on the studio, made (and mended) to last clothing, and how we can all use these skills to get more life from our favourite pieces.
What 2 words best describe Studio Mend?
We met at Dutch Design Week last year, when you were showing your graduate collection. Is this when you first launched Studio Mend? Can you tell us where the idea came from?
It started as one of my graduation projects at Design Academy Eindhoven. I was really interested in how the relationship with our clothes has changed over the last century. We used to repair our clothes because they were too valuable to throw away, but with the 1960’s boom of fast fashion it became more affordable to buy new garments rather than repairing them; often reducing our relationship with what we wear down to keeping up with the trends, resulting in the fashion industry today being the second most polluting in the world..
I wanted to find a way to highlight the value of our clothes and present an alternative to throwing away those garments which still has great potential to be used, and for this idea mending fitted perfectly. I was (and am) very inspired by the Japanese philosophy Wabi Sabi, which is all about embracing the imperfections, like for example Kintsugi, a form of repairing broken ceramics with gold instead of repairing it back to its original look.
I approach each faulty garment with the aim of using the imperfection to heighten the quality of the garment- a visible statement about the material and emotional value of what we wear.
Left: Sunniva, founder of Studio Mend, Right: Mended tee shirt.
Tell us about the team behind the design studio
The team is me, Sunniva Amber Flesland. I’m 26 years old, a product and contextual designer, and pretty much the one doing every task in my little design and repair studio- everything from websites to repairing.
I was born in San Francisco, with a German father and Norwegain mother, and grew up in a big house in the woods of Norway. I studied at Design Academy Eindhoven, and was in the Man and Leisure department.
As a designer I often see the world in big systems, and I try to understand how things connect to each other. I’m driven by functional problem solving with philosophical undertones. In my projects I question how we understand the world around us and how we live in it, with the wish to make poetic and sustainable alternatives.
What’s playing on the studio stereo?
Podcasts and audiobooks to feed my brain while I repair, mostly about psychology. Also a lot of Rn'B, hiphop and reggaeton.
We define good design as ‘making positive impact on people and the planet a key input in the design stage’. Each of our designers all approach this in different ways, and tackle different issues. How do you approach this at Studio Mend?
I hope to give clothing-repair a new life by making it visible, attractive, refined and as «designed» as though it was an expensive piece of jewellery. By showing the potential upgrade and uniqueness clothing can get by repairing, I hopefully encourage people to buy higher quality clothes and use them longer, and then invest time or money in repairing them.
Image: Mended long sleeve, and mended linen trousers.
Where do you source your second hand garments from?
Local second hand stores, flea markets and Norwegian second hand-apps.
This is your first collection for sale (which we’re very excited to have on PARO STORE). Where does the future hold for Studio Mend? Will there be more collections coming?
Having worked the last year as a repair service, I want to focus more on passing on the skill of repairing, by for example doing workshops and designing instructional tools. Alongside that I’ll definitely keep hunting for faulty second hand treasures with the potential to be worn much longer and to get a upgrade- which I find is a very fun and creative process, so a second collection is very possible!
You’ve also run some workshops. The visible mending techniques look really impressive and difficult. Is this something anyone can do to extend the life of special items in the wardrobe?
Yes, definitely! Like any craft or skill it requires a certain amount of practice and patience, but it’s certainly worth the effort to learn. Once you know the techniques you have endless aesthetic possibilities + you can wear your garments so much longer!
As we all know, the fashion industry as a whole is responsible for huge environmental and social issues. How would you like to see the industry change and progress?
Production transparency, more awareness around quality and the production + use of synthetic textiles in fashion. Less fast-fashion and more made to last !! Less designing for seasons and trends, and more for all year.
What advice would you give to people who want to be more responsible with their wardrobe?
Ask yourself “Do I need this?” “Does this fit with my existing wardrobe?” Buy clothing with many years in mind and multi-seasonal. Can the things you already have but don’t wear anymore be altered to fit better or look different? Many garments often only need a little tweak with a sewing machine to be interesting again.
Find out more about Studio Mend and shop the collection here.