What is Boro and Sashiko stitching, and what do they have to do with upcycling?

The fashion industry is notorious for its contribution to our world's massive waste problem. And in a culture that's constantly churning out trendy throw-away fashion pieces, the idea of upcycling or refashioning them can be viewed as something out of the ordinary.

Did you know? Almost three-fifths of all clothing ends up in landfills or an incinerator within a year of being produced!

The art of upcycling is not just transforming old materials into useable objects – it’s the process of giving a new lease of life into used and loved items, so as to give them a new personality, at the same time, creating something functional and creative. As a movement that's gaining traction across the world, we absolutely love how Japan reuses and upcycles items. Nothing is wasted and the art is prevalent no matter where you go.

The idea behind upcycling here has its roots in a very different time and was born out of necessity. Boro literally stands for tatters and people used to be so poor in the Edo period that they could not afford textiles for clothing. Cotton was also scarce in northern Japan, where it was too cold to grow. As a result, cloth was a precious resource and even cotton scraps had value. Pieces of used cotton were gathered and used to patch clothing, work garments and futon covers.

Boro came to signify the clothing worn by the commoners, who would lovingly repair and reuse their garments instead of throwing them away. Boro garments used to be handed down over generations, and they would become more and more densely patched with the decades of mending. You could say that it is no longer possible to practice authentic Boro without a hundred years at least!

During this period, Japanese mothers and wives developed a distinctive and decorative stitching technique known as Sashiko today. Sashiko stitching made Boro pieces stronger and warmer. Today, Sashiko adds a gorgeous touch to textiles and remains a beautiful way to mend garments or create Boro-inspired pieces.

FIN Crafted Goods is a sustainable lifestyle brand in Singapore that focuses on repairing and rebuilding garments. Influenced by Japanese culture and values, FIN imports denim from Osaka to create their goods and was built on the idea of creating simple, functional items with a 'mottainai' (wasting nothing) ethos. As part of their upcycling efforts, they collect fabric swatches from fashion labels such as Ralph Lauren, Zegna, Pendleton Blankets to re-use those fabrics!

This Sashiko stitching workshop by FIN will let you experience how to turn fabric scraps into an aesthetically pleasing and useful item that you can incorporate into your everyday life. Create your very own designs and bring home two coasters that you've made yourself! Learn more about the techniques involved in Sashiko stitching, some of the patterns used and the meanings behind them. Try the stitching yourself and create your own patterns!

Team Culturally tried out this workshop and it's safe to say that we had a great time and absolutely loved it!

Or perhaps you've got a hole in your favourite jacket or a tear in your jeans? Save it from the landfills – let FIN teach you how to repair them effectively and creatively. Learn how to give your old clothes a new life by applying Boro aesthetics that will add colour and texture to your pieces. You will also pick up some useful sewing tips and learn to apply the techniques and aesthetics to other garments!

Come join our culture rally – and learn how to waste less at the same time!