GRAMGood things are rarely described with the suffix ‘brother’, but the emergence of ‘sew bros’ could be an exception. That is the name that has been given to the growing number of men who are practicing the fine art of sewing, who can now add George Clooney to their numbers.
The father of three-year-old twins, who declared himself a haircutter in December, told AARP magazine: “I sew children’s clothes a lot… and my wife’s dress ripped a couple of times. I was single for a long time and had no money, and you have to learn to repair things. “
With the pandemic sparking interest in a number of typically lo-if domestic activities, most recently including making jam and hairdressing, searches for sewing machines have increased massively, while John Lewis reported that sales soared 127%. “I feel incredibly lucky to have a business that flourished during the pandemic,” says Michelle Zimmer of Merchant & Mills, a fabric store in Sussex, who says they have seen an increase in sales since the pandemic began.
Sewing has always been considered a typically feminine activity, a stereotype that is not good for anyone. And the sexist assumption that women will take over the housework that has only been exaggerated by the confinement. “What’s particularly interesting is the increase in younger male artisans we’ve seen in our community,” adds Edward Griffith, executive director of the LoveCrafts artisan community. “The majority of our male community is between 25 and 34 years old, compared to our female audience, which is mainly 35 to 44 years old.” It says that, when surveying the community, about a third of them were engaged in sewing during the pandemic (this includes sewing, embroidery and cross stitch).
On social media, sewing is increasingly positioned as a political act. Repairmen post pictures of the clothes they have repaired or made in the name of slow fashion. The ‘artisans’ protest against Trump through embroidery. But the majority of the sewers are still female and most of the ‘Sew Bros’ I spoke to have found themselves with raised eyebrows revealing their hobby.
“When I tell people, they may laugh because they think I’m joking or they are quite surprised by the fact that I sew as a man,” says Thabo Sabao, 22, a software developer apprentice showing off his impressive collection of tops and coats on Instagram. Peter Cant, a contestant on The Great British Sewing Bee, echoes this attitude about assumed gender roles, who has noted dismissive ideas about sewing, as a typically feminine activity, involved in people’s reactions. Perhaps that is why, even in its flourishing state, ‘brother sewing’ is still a niche niche. “The sewing community can be strange with men, as tailors are highly respected and almost expected to be men, but men who sew at home can be seen as feminine,” she says, before adding “[but] it’s what you produce what people look at. Anyway I hope so. “
And yet the sew bros continue to populate the world of crafts, regardless of cultural expectations and raised eyebrows. Sabao says that after “looking for something that would take me away from my computer screen,” she found a sewing machine. Ironically, he went back to looking for help online. “YouTube helped a lot,” he says. “Almost everything I know comes from YouTube.” He talks fondly about the first pair of pants he ever made, with an Adidas gym bag. “[they] It gave me a real sense of accomplishment because I wrote the pattern myself, and it took a few tries, but when I finished it, it turned out fine, ”he says.
In the same way that “cottagecore” has updated home activities like beekeeping and gardening with a gender-neutral twist, sew bros has subverted the tradwife archetype behind the activity. While menswear designers like Emily Bode have made DIY and recycling processes desirable. “I have been contacted by many men on Instagram who have started sewing in recent years,” Cant says. “[They’ve been] inspired by the growing need to mend and reuse clothing “, like Clooney,” as well as to make unique garments.
“I think men see our store as a kind of hardware store and can spend hours comparing hooks, rings, buckles and rivets,” says Zimmer. “The Foreman Men’s Jacket was our best-selling pattern of 2020, and it was released years ago.” Despite this, Sabao believes that sewing remains a niche search. “In [the online community] r / sew on Reddit, I find that it is dominated by women, ”he says. “I don’t think it’s something that many men have on their radar. I think that when we grow up, mothers and grandmother are more likely to teach a girl how to sew. “
For Sabao, however, sewing is a full-circle moment. “I recently discovered that many members of my family in Zimbabwe are tailors and seamstresses, so my mother was very happy that I learned the skill.”
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George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism