by Cajsa Carlson
Few clothes have as much emotional value to their wearer as the perfect pair of jeans, or that denim jacket that fits just right. The fact that denim often has to be broken in means people get really attached to their favorite piece—whether that’s a '50s workwear shirt or classic Calvin Klein jeans from the '90s. So what do you do when the tear that looked OK at first now threatens the very wearable existence of the jeans you’ve worn and loved for so long? If you live in London, the answer is contact Luke Deverell of Darn and Dusted, a bespoke mending company that carefully repairs jeans and other workwear pieces by hand—before they fall apart entirely.
Deverell—who works for denim brand Edwin in Shoreditch—launched Darn and Dusted in November of 2013. He says it started as “a bit of fun on Instagram for my hand-sewn repairs," but it's now a full-blown mending service with plenty of customers who find Deverell either through Edwin, his Instagram or old-fashioned word of mouth.
Instead of seeing the mending as a necessary evil, Deverell plays with different stitches and patches to add personality and flair to the clothes he mends. He was taught how to darn by his grandmother and puts the knowledge to good use, sewing up holes and adding decorative and functional patches on everything from new jeans to vintage workwear jackets. Inspired by his vintage clothing collection and by people for whom mending clothes was a necessity, Deverell collects photographs and postcards of American hobos from the early 1900s and draws all kinds of ideas from them.
Deverell’s current favorite pieces to work on are the vintage aprons he has in his collection. "They're all made from selvedge denim and are from around the 1950s. The thing I love about them is trying to work out what their previous owners used them for. Some are covered in paint or rust, some have pockets that have been added for specific tools and some are so worn out, I can only imagine the life they've had," he says. The already existing repairs on vintage garments also reveal their history—for example, Deverell unpicks a seam on an apron, uncovering a yellow selvedge thread which means the garment is even older than he previously thought.
In addition to mending clothes, Deverell has also created a selection of indigo-dyed, block-printed custom bandanas, and teamed up with Shackleton Bags to design a tote that features scraps of denim dating back to the 1890s. He says that denim that old is “hard to come by, but I end up with these boxes of scraps and it’s like—what are you going to do with them?”
Deverell thinks the popularity of mending clothes mainly has to do with hand-crafted products becoming more popular and valued again. "This is especially true in regards to premium denim and even more so with vintage clothing, where the customer relishes the back story of a piece and wants to conserve the history of an item," he says. In what is largely considered a throw-away culture, a venture such as Darn and Dusted not only offers a useful service, but one with heart.
Photos by Cajsa Carlson