Mr. Damirji had always hated wearing ties. “They always represented someone breathing down my neck. Some teacher,” he said. “But at the same time I used to be fascinated by the beautiful prints.”
It also has been more difficult than he expected to work with some ecclesiastical textiles dating from the 17th and 18th centuries that he acquired as “they are shredded in most cases,” he said. Case in point: the Ilana jacket now for sale on MatchesFashion.com (2,775 pounds, or $3,821), which was made by what Mr. Damirji called “just trial and error.”
While he has an established network of auction houses, dealers and small-lot vendors, Mr. Damirji said the combined effects of the pandemic and Britain’s departure from the European Union had increased the difficulty of finding fabrics — and cost him about 15 percent of his customer base.
“I used to go everywhere, but since Covid, now everybody sends me messages and pictures,” he said, adding that he chooses fabrics on instinct. “Some of these old textiles, the dyeing technique is no longer possible and the vibrancy of the color that comes through you cannot produce anymore.”
And as for Brexit, it “has been such a disaster for us,” he said. “The dealers who used to come from France have now got to get a carnet and list each and every item to get in,” he said, referring to the industry term for an international import-export document. “It’s a bit time-consuming and ridiculous. And it’s costly. And they are all a bit grumpy about it.”
Patchwork is also the signature style of Rave Review, founded in 2017 in Stockholm by Livia Schück, now 31, and her business partner, Josephine Rosenqvist, now 33. “We work with really old fabrics,” said Ms. Schück, like duvets from the 1970s and 1980s and sleeping bags machine-stitched together to create an oversize coat with a matching scarf. For the first time they are using kilts this season because, “you get a lot of fabric from one kilt,” she said.