THE STITCH SISTERS
Step into the Finisterre workshop and head up the stairs and you’ll hear the gentle hum of a sewing machine run by the deft hands of repairs whizz Annie. Now joined by her sister Pip who is at the helm in our new Bristol store repairing your garments in-house, we’re keeping our repairs programme in the family.
Stitching since the age of 3 - “we started off with these cards and you had a blunt needle and a piece of wool and you used to sew in the shape of a car,” Annie muses - both Annie and Pip are masters in their field. Annie, graduating from university with a textiles degree specialising in knitwear construction; and Pip, a fine art student whose needle skills were passed on from their grandmother at an early age.
Why repairs? Was there a specific reason?
I have a real phobia of throwing anything in the bin. Even if it’s rubbish, I look at it and wonder if I could use this; I look at a tray from a punnet of blueberries and think 'I wonder if I could plant salad in this.’ Maybe phobia is the wrong word, but I have a real dislike of throwing anything away… I like to reuse stuff.
Is that from both an environmental view as well as a desire to continue a garment's story and life cycle?
I suppose so yes. My old house was just full of stuff that had a use beforehand and then had been reused, because what’s the point of buying something new when you can use something you’ve already got and repurpose it?
I hate throwing anything in the bin and I think I’m really drawn to this and when I came to Cornwall. I was living with Holly [Annie’s predecessor at Finisterre] and I was sitting in my bedroom, fixing my socks which were probably about five years old, and Holly said, “what are you doing? Socks cost like £3 and you’re fixing socks." I just said 'I’ve got really attached to this pair and I just didn’t want to throw them away." Then the next day she came home from work and she chucked me a load of jackets and asked if I wouldn't mind sewing them up. Eventually she asked me to come to work with her and help out.
If you’ve ever sent in your jacket, Merino base layer or a piece of knitwear in for repair, then it’s Annie who has patched it up. It’s a small operation but one which works with extreme efficiency and ease - trust me, I’ve seen her customer files.
As we’ve grown, it is still so vital to our brand values and ethos to continue to deliver a repairs service so that your clothes can last a lifetime. And if you’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting Annie, you’ll know that her passion for repairs is unparalleled.
What’s your favourite thing to repair?
I love getting Merino… I love like a shredded bit of Merino and I want it to be chewed by a dog. I was saying this earlier, I’d like someone to send me a jumper that has been chewed by a dog and I’ll rebuild it.
Like the man from Falmouth whose dog kept on chewing off the pom pom?
I’ve done that a few times since…
The same guy?
No different people - puppies love pom-poms… I love it when people send me a jacket saying it’s a bit beyond repair, because in my mind, nothing is beyond repair. I just like trying to keep things out of the bin. That’s my aim.
Bringing Pip into the fold aligned perfectly. Based in Bristol and with the same meticulous talent as Annie - as well as the same passion to keep things out of the bin - Pip has become our Bristol repairs guru. You’ll find Pip stationed at the shop twice a week on a Saturday, ready to breathe new life into your tired, old jackets, knits and layers. A couple of weeks back, Annie joined in for some stitch sister training, talking to customers about repairs and repairing on the spot. We knew we wanted our Bristol bricks and mortar to tell a story - what better story than the ones your clothes tell through all those tears and scrapes?
So don’t be afraid to take your Finisterre garments out for a ride - test their limits, put them to work, arm them for battle - because, in the words of Annie, nothing is beyond repair. We’d rather repair a jacket that’s been put through its paces and fully lived than throw it on the pile and ask you to buy another. These sisters in arms are proof of this.
Photography by Jonathan Simpson