Seamstresses and alterationists work at Community in Athens, Georgia on Monday, Nov. 27, 2019. COMMUNITY is boutique offering sustainable, locally made clothing and products. (Photo/Taylor Gerlach)

Tucked in the back corner of the downtown Athens boutique, piles of the University of Georgia’s football program’s iconic red and black jerseys sit in front of humming machines as the alterations staff at Community, a boutique on North Jackson Street, busily repair them. 

This is new work for the alterations staff this season as the boutique started repairing the UGA football team’s jerseys after each game this fall.  

“It’s funny because they’ll be out on the table when we’re working and you can tell when people go by who are the big football fans because they’re just staring at them,” Becky Brooks, the lead of the four alterationists, said.

Brooks said the shop is honored to do this work and hasn’t come across a jersey beyond repair. Typical weekly alterations consist of fixing minor rips, repairing torn patches or changing name plates among different jerseys.

“They get really banged up,” Brooks said.

While repairing SEC football jerseys may be a new experience for the sewers and seamstresses at the boutique, the work fits with Community’s mission as the shop seeks to offer locally-sourced, sustainable products to the Athens community. Sylvester, other employees and apprentices routinely take vintage clothing and modernize it for the racks at Community, giving new life to older garments as part of their in-house fashion line.

Sustainability is the life-blood of Community, as it strives to create zero waste in the creation of its fashion line. Any zippers, buttons or fabric removed from vintage clothing as the sewers modernize is used in other projects whenever possible. Instead of replacing lightly damaged jerseys each week, the football team’s partnership with Community also creates a more sustainable system. 

Throughout the season, the alterations staff has settled into a weekly rhythm with the jerseys. 

Brooks said there’s not a set schedule but that they receive the clean, washed jerseys after games and place them in a special case “just to be extra secure.” The employees then triage the damage to see what needs to be done that week and schedule alterationists to come in and complete the work. 

While a majority of the work currently falls to employees, Brooks, Moana Balogh and Shawna Maranville, as the three women are training another alterationists to share some of the work as well. 

The boutique usually receives 10-15 jerseys per week to repair. However, some games are harder on the jerseys than others and require more work during the week to get them ready for game time. After the rainy game against Texas A&M on Nov. 23, the boutique had more jerseys than normal come into the boutique for repairs. 

“It was crazy,” Balogh said. “There were 30 this week.” 

Overall, the alterations staff at Community is happy to partner with the football team to get each jersey game ready each week.

“They’ve been really happy; we’ve been happy with them, so it has worked out really well,” Brooks said.

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