Sew Bros

30th July 2021

Unless you’re a regular reader of Esquire magazine, you might not have heard the term ‘Sew Bros’. The moniker describes a small, niche group of men who have discovered the great pleasure that comes from sewing one’s own wardrobe. Hailing such famous men as George Clooney among their ranks, the Sew Bros are busily working at their sewing machines, quietly chipping away at social stereotypes in order to pursue something they don’t just believe in, but love doing.

Sewing, particularly sewing clothes, has always been a gendered pursuit where throughout history it was a task expected to be undertaken by women.

Then, when the sewing machine was first invented, rather than liberating women from the job, it resulted in further exploitation.

Sewing machines allowed for the development of factories, now colloquially known as ‘sweat shops’. In these factories, the mass-produced clothing was peopled almost entirely by women paid a pittance to work long, gruelling hours over a sewing machine.

Although in most Western countries, these kinds of factories no longer exist, most of us are conscious of the fact that doesn’t mean they’ve disappeared. In fact, they’ve just been moved to poorer countries where again, women tend to make up the majority of the poorly paid workforce. 

Almost all of us have probably wondered how it is possible to create a dress that only costs $10 or a t-shirt for $2, but for anyone who has ever made their own clothes, this consideration really comes to the fore.

Mehedi Sarri with one of his creations (source)

This is exactly what drove sewer Mehedi Sarri to start making his own garments.

He observes that when you spend eight to ten hours making an item of clothing, it gives you a new appreciation of the value of the clothes you wear.

Thabo Sabao, another man who has taken up the hobby, expresses the satisfaction and sense of achievement he feels from making and wearing his own clothing. 

And Jonathan Simanjuntak became something of a Reddit sensation when, after several months of trial and error and a lot of YouTube tutorials, uploaded a picture of a jacket he’d made for himself from a blanket and some floral curtains.

Jonathan Simanjuntak’s floral jacket (source)

The irony is, high quality bespoke tailors are almost always men and have been for centuries. Sadly, when tailoring was in its zenith in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, women were barred from joining the guilds and were therefore excluded from the profession. 

Arguably, there is more equality today but there is still a cultural divide between sewing clothes and tailoring – a divide that remains resolutely gendered.

Although the Sew Bros are still a small group they have been slowly and steadily growing, particularly during the lockdowns of the past 18 months. More men are buying patterns for clothing, sales of sewing machines have been growing and men are becoming more confident in posting their creations on social media. 

Like many things, all that is needed is a tipping point – a crucial moment when it no longer seems strange to see a man at a sewing machine or purchasing fabric.

As anyone who has ever had a go at sewing something knows, it isn’t necessarily easy, it takes a lot of thought, trial and error, skill and perseverance.

These are traits that anyone can display, so it makes sense that sewing should become universal. Perhaps there might be a time when a $2 t-shirt that will be thrown away after three washes no longer seems desirable, and when the queue at the fabric shop is made up equally of men and women.

In the meantime, it’s refreshing to see movements like the Sew Bros gaining in popularity and helping to keep the skills of slow crafts relevant.

Join our FREE weekly newsletter All Stitched Up!

Back to top