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Photo by Samantha Alzuria
Brown wool jacket, before the alterations
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Photo by Samantha Alzuria
The same jacket, with its new features
Breathe new life into old clothes with a few simple and inexpensive modifications.
Autumn is in full swing, so it’s flip-flops away and wool cardies out. Unfortunately, with the economy the way it is, we can’t all go out and buy the latest Max Mara coat or one of Burberry Prorsum’s military style trenches. Nor would we all spend that kind of money on clothes even if we had it.
But money woes needn’t take the fun out of fashion. Clothes rationing in Forties’ Britain sparked the ‘Make Do and Mend’ initiative, bringing DIY fashion to the masses. Now, with the rising popularity of social media sites such as image-led Pinterest, together with old favourites including YouTube and Blogger, it’s become all too easy to find inspiration, tips and how-tos from the best DIY-ers on the internet. While many of us are turning to the web for ideas, haberdasheries across Barcelona are an Aladdin’s cave for anyone looking for the actual materials to update, or upcycle, last year’s winter wardrobe.
My own such mission began as I sifted through old winter clothes, confident I’d find at least an armful of items that could be salvaged for my very own AW 2012/2013 collection. In the end, staring down at the only rescued garment, an oversized, chocolate-brown wool and viscose mix jacket, fashioned to weakly resemble last year’s military trend, ‘disappointed’ barely summed up my feelings. But I set about finding new inspiration and, naturally, turned to magazines, cups of sweet tea and Pinterest. And there it was, a community of DIY fashionistas, masters of upcycling, serial tie-dyers... you get the idea.
Armed with nothing more than a basic sewing box, I was set on making this jacket a key piece going into the winter season. First on the list was a trip to the haberdashery. But which one? By far the most well-know haberdashery here is the two-storey Merceria Santa Ana, founded in 1935. Located in Portal de l’Àngel, Merceria Santa Ana houses more buttons than you could ever imagine existed, while the friendly staff will help you search through the extensive stock to find the perfect ones. Although buttons don’t seem like the most exciting alteration you can make to a coat or jacket, the effects are not to be brushed off. Replacing my eight, bog-standard brown buttons—the same colour as the fabric—with metallic ones for just €8.80 was the collagen injection it needed, bringing it a small step closer to the Burberry-inspired 2012 military look.
Appliqué and embellishment is another hot trend this season and one the high street has been quick to filter down. It is also relatively easy to achieve on a budget. Planas y Linares on Muntaner may just be the best place to go, whether you’re going for simple detail or the baroque effect. Prices for individual pieces, from metal brooches and trinkets to elaborate beaded and lace designs range from €1 to over €4 each. Ribbons and strips of fabric of all sorts are also in abundance here, so unless you have something very specific in mind, this isn’t the ideal place for a quick dash in and out.
I left Planas y Linares after half an hour with a one-metre strip of heavily beaded light brown and gold material, which, despite its intricacy, cost just €6.
With images of collections from Prada, Stella McCartney and Diane von Fürstenberg buzzing around my head as I walked back towards the metro station, I ran my fingers over the wooden beads, wondering if I would be able to pull this off. But several stitches and pierced fingertips later, my jacket was complete. It’s not quite Stella but for €14.80, it’s not half bad.
Merceria Santa Ana—Portal de l’Àngel 26. Tel. 93 302 0948
Planas y Linares—Muntaner 155. Tel. 93 321 8312