Urban Explorer Series: Interview with Hannah Porter

Urban Explorer Series: Interview with Hannah Porter

“I think the term urban explorer is about exploring a new destination by yourself without having any guide. By always being curious, your senses will naturally guide you to seek out little hidden gems.”




Hannah Porter

Founder of Restoration London


Our Urban Explorer


Could you please introduce yourself to our guests?

I’m Hannah, the founder of Restoration London, a company I started three years ago that focuses on sustainability within the fashion industry by mending items of clothing. People will bring in denim jeans, jackets, and jumpers, and I’ll teach them how to fix their clothing, rather than throwing them out. Alongside that, I also sell mending kits and offer online classes for those who cannot make it to London so they have all the materials needed to master the same techniques that you would in my workshops.


Where did you come up with the inspiration for Restoration LDN?

I have actually been toying with this idea for many years as I did my Master of Arts degree at the Royal College of Art in London, specialising in knitwear. I worked in the fashion industry for a number of years with numerous high-end fashion designers and high-street fashion brands and noticed how wasteful it can be. With garments that didn’t sell well, they would either be sold at a discount at a sample sale or literally go in the bin, which I just could not believe. This is what gave me the idea of starting a company that focuses on various textile methods of mending to help usher the fashion industry toward a more circular economy.



As someone who has worked in the fashion and textiles industry for so many years, what does sustainability mean to you?

For me, sustainability applies to various facets of the clothing industry, from considering the materials you use for your garment that will not harm the environment to workers being treated and paid fairly. It also means finding ways that better the planet and the people on it, such as adopting the reduce, reuse, and recycle principle and making all your materials biodegradable.


What was the first piece of clothing that you repaired or customised?

The first garment that I fully repaired was a pair of jeans from a Sashiko and Boro Stitch workshop. They were an old pair of jeans that I had literally worn to death! There were massive holes in them, so I wanted to make something new out of them. I remember cutting squares of fabric from other jeans and then patching the holes up using the Sashiko and Boro Stitch method to give my jeans a new lease on life. I don’t wear them anymore, but people are always really interested in seeing them during the workshops. It is definitely one of my prized possessions!



What does a day in the life of Ms. Hannah Porter look like?

At the moment, I am adjusting to the new mom life! I am slowly dipping back into work now and it feels great, to be honest. In my day-to-day life, I am balancing between being a mom and running my business. I have also recently completed a huge order for the V&A Museum where I had to pack 170 mending kits, so I have spent a great deal of time in my studio doing that, all the while liaising with prospective clients for workshops, ordering materials, and looking for supplies for my kits and managing the marketing side of the business like the website and Instagram. Simultaneously, I am teaching a class at Central Saint Martins while sourcing vintage garments that I can then upcycle and sell. It’s a constant balancing act but it’s great and I love it!


What does” Urban Explorer” mean to you and how do you think you fit into this term?

I think the term urban explorer is about exploring a new destination by yourself without having any guide. By always being curious, your senses will naturally guide you to seek out little hidden gems. Urban exploration can simply be taking a stroll outside and discovering an amazing new pub by chance. London is an amazing city and I love doing just that – seeing where the road kind of takes me and then discovering all these hidden gems – be it in Central London or parts of East London. I have lived here for 10 years now and there is still so much to discover in the city.



Sustainability is Not a Trend, but the Future


Restoration LDN has made great contributions to the way people consume fashion – in a more sustainable way. With this in mind, how well do you think Londoners have adopted this practice?

Yes! I think London’s really progressive in terms of sustainability. Within the fashion industry, there are a lot of students coming out of top fashion colleges like Central Saint Martins, London College of Fashion, and the Royal College of Art that are pushing the boundaries of what you can do with sustainability and making waves in the fashion industry. Hence, in recent years there have been numerous pop-ups around London that have really focused on sustainability and upcycling.


Your company ethos is all about designing with the purpose to reuse materials and regenerating pieces through skilled textile methods that can contribute towards a zero-waste economy. Are there any challenges in adopting this practice/ mindset?

Yes, I think it can be quite difficult to source materials that are reusable and recyclable. There is a kaleidoscope of fabrics and yarns available out there made of acrylic, which contains plastic that takes thousands of years to biodegrade, but I am not always able to find sustainable materials in the right colour or fabric for what I want to make. In terms of the upcycling pieces I design, they may not always be easy to sell because consumers may be able to find a piece of fast fashion garment at a much cheaper price and compare it to my design without knowing the thought, time and technique that goes into mending a piece of garment and giving it a new life. That said, increasingly, there are more people who sought out sustainable fashion and see value in it which is really cool.



Are there any pieces of clothing in your closet that hold significance or meaning to you?

I don’t really have any garments that have been passed down from family members, so I am sort of starting this tradition. Hence, I wanted the jeans I upcycled to be really special, so I worked really hard on them and now they carry great significance in my wardrobe.


What does the future of fashion look like for you?

I think we have still got quite a long way to go because there are so many people that want to buy into the trends with fast fashion, but increasingly, there are more consumers wanting to be more sustainable. As said, I’d like to think that London is a very progressive city and we are certainly on the right track, but I think there’s always more we can do to create a circular fashion economy.



What is the single best piece of advice you can give someone who is looking to follow in your footsteps in making a difference in the community?

I think it is important to know what it is you want to achieve and wish to say to people, whether that be with your brand or label, and how it will help people. Also, getting support from local businesses that have a similar ethos to yours and building your community with them is something that I find really helpful to do if you want to build up your brand.


What do you like most about your job?

The thing that I love most about my job is teaching the workshops because I am such a people person. I enjoy meeting new people and teaching them new textile techniques that they might not know and showing them something new. I love spreading knowledge and teaching people new skills so that they can leave the workshop feeling inspired.


Travel Inspiration


Where does your inspiration for travel come from?

I really enjoy watching travel food programmes! For instance, I love watching Anthony Bourdain’s travel show “No Reservations”. It is basically him going to different parts of the world and exploring unique cuisines, local delicacies and experiencing the culture there. He tends to go to places that I’ve never heard of that really inspire me to travel.



What other destinations are on your bucket list?

There are so many destinations I would love to visit but Japan is at the top of the list. I love everything about Japan, from its culture and sightsees down to the food and textiles!


In 3 words, how would you describe London?

Busy, Exciting, Unique