The concept of ‘Boro’ style is something that we have mentioned a few times last year when we spoke about one of our favourite Japanese brands Kapital Denim (see HERE) and when we spoke of sashiko mending techniques (see HERE).
Lately ‘Boro style’ seems to have piqued the interest of global Japanese menswear aficionados with the likes of VISVIM and Watanabe Junya exploring their roots.
When Japanese talk about ‘Boro’ things. They often refer to things that have been used so they are falling apart and worn out. You can find a boro house (like the one in Totoro), a boro record player etc. Boro in terms of fabric items dates back to around the 17th century when the poorer citizens would stitch together rags of cloth to make blankets and use patches and clever stitching to mend, strengthen and cushion clothing. It is a craft developed out of a necessity for warmth, practicality and longevity and so it was mainly used by firemen, fishermen and farmers.
Whilst I appreciate the sentiments, I confess that specifically made ‘new’ Boro-style garments made for the sale to the masses looses a certain amount of appeal to me. They stray too far away from the essence of the style and so the charm diminishes. New specially dyed and sourced cloth is used rather than rags and scraps and the result is something a little contrived in my mind (like purposely ripped jeans). The necessity to mend and prolong the life of a garment is not part of the creation of a brand new high-end garment. So to me, the ‘Boro-ness’ is no longer there.
Today, the art of mending things is often dismissed, and derided. The excesses of fast fashion and materialism makes us all believe that worn-out garments are better off discarded than investing time and effort to repair them. I have to agree to a degree. Cheap (in quality) items probably cannot be repaired properly. However, some garments have real value, not only in cost but sentiment and quality. So, armed with my inherent defiance of ‘throwayism’ and inspired by a boro attitude I attempted to bring life back to a pair of Hiro’s jeans.
Hiro cycles to work and back every day. Gradually the associated monotony of movement degrades the the fibres of his jeans.
I employed the most basic of sashiko stitches and did my utmost to not only mend the damage but to revive the threadbare frayed fibres by essentially creating a new patch of weft using special sashiko thread. I also tried to strengthen the vulnerable surrounding area with my rather paltry simple but effective stitches.
Even though my work cannot be easily spotted when he wear ths jeans (perhaps this is a good thing) Hiro is happy when he wears them. I am happy that my stitching seems to be enduring his daily commute!
I am working on improving my sashiko stitching skills in the years to come and will probably undertake more boro projects this year to help me along!
NOTE: The damage to Hiro’s jeans has noticeably lessened when he replaced his bike seat with a leather saddle from BROOKS.