Henry Croft started the tradition of sewing buttons on clothes back in 1875 so he could draw attention to himself to raise money for charities. He was in demand so asked his friends to help. Learn more about the History of the Pearly Kings and Queens.
The clothes have often been passed down the generations of Pearly Families or are remade by the successor but the tradition is for the man (Pearly King) to sew on all the buttons.
I recommend going to St. Paul's Church, Bedford Street, Covent Garden, London WC2E 9ED for the Pearly Kings and Queens Harvest Festival on the 2nd Sunday in October. The church is just behind where the street performers work in Covent Garden piazza. Meet at 10am for some great photo opportunities before the 11am church service. They are all wonderful people who are happy to speak to anyone who wants to say hello. I had a lot of fun dancing with them to the music of the Royal British Legion band.
Or you can see them in Jubilee Hall Market, Covent Garden, on the 3rd weekend of every month collecting money for London charities. Check the Events page of the Pearly Society's website for details of more events.