What to avoid?
Bleach. It’s the primary cause of fade. Also steer clear of products with optical agents such as anionic diamino stilbene (DAS0) or distyryl biphenyl (DSBP). They don’t clean, but just reflect light to make things look whiter. Those particles cling to fabric and degrade it over time. Non-biological formulations are gentler and less likely to cause allergies than biological.
Keep tumble drying to a minimum. Never tumble dry activewear. Ideally use a washing line. For winter, invest in a heated clothes rails (lakeland.co.uk has a three tier airer that costs pennies to run, £164). To soften towels, pop them in the drier when they’re almost dry.
Turn washing temperatures down wherever possible and use a product that works at low temperatures. Even when you’re hand washing, you can still shrink your clothes or cause colour runs if the water’s too hot. 30 degrees is a lot cooler than you think. The average shower is 38 degrees.
Whatever you do, don’t boil your clothes, even smelly gym kits. It breaks down the fibres.
Don’t leave clothes sitting in water too long and lay them out properly to dry.
If you’re handwashing, a product containing glycerine is much kinder on your hands. Make use of your machine’s slow spin – 400 rpm is plenty for delicates. Use a laundry bag for cashmere and silk to protect them from snagging and catching on zips, (included in every order of Kair). Fasten bra straps to prevent them getting caught and stretching.
Cheap ones are slimy and degrade elastane, but the right ones keep clothes supple.
How to give your clothes a new lease of life by Abdul Jawan, who began learning to tailor when he was 14 and is the man many designers and retailers, including Matches Fashion, use when customers need clothes altering. From high end to high street, he makes everything look a million dollars and importantly, will tell you when something’s not worth redoing.
Is there anything you can’t alter?
Tulle and pleats can be tricky and it’s harder to make something bigger than smaller, but other than that… We can add or eliminate pockets, sleeves, ruffles and collars, reshape trousers and jackets or build from scratch… Sometimes altering something costs more than the garment and there’s no point. Other times it is worth it, because the item has sentimental value, or ends up looking so much better. Just before Christmas, a bride came in crying because she needed an emergency alteration for her wedding dress. We worked overnight, redoing everything from darts to the hem and embroidering pieces by hand. The smile on her face when she tried it on was amazing.
What’s the biggest problem with clothing today?
Fast fashion. Sometimes I can’t believe the bad quality of the fabric or sewing. And it’s a disaster for the environment. I always advise my clients to buy better quality, less often.