"We repair not because we can't afford to buy something new, but because we can't afford to throw something away." Orsola de Castro
The tragic climate scenarios outlined in the recent report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) show that together with other high impact industries the fashion industry should transition to circularity without delay. It needs to slow down and close the loop.
As the president-designate of the United Nations Climate Change Conference, Alok Sharma said of the fashion sector: “We need a fundamental shift. Sustainability cannot be the preserve of certain brands or discreet collections. Nods to climate action are absolutely not enough. We need the whole sector to embrace the goals of the Paris Agreement”
Currently the fashion industry produces excessive amounts of clothes. No matter how 'sustainable' these garments may be, with 87% of textiles incinerated or landfilled their sheer volume has devastating environmental impacts. In this situation increasing the average number of times clothes are worn presents the most direct way to capture value and design out waste and pollution in the textiles system We need to shift the perception of clothing from being a disposable item to being a durable product.
Today most garments are created without the future repair in mind and very few brands offer warranties and repair services for their clothing.
But we believe that it needs to change. Those brands that already prioritise durability, repair and reuse show that it is possible, and that the major brands should follow suit. We call big fashion companies to rethink and transform their business models to accommodate repair and reuse.
There is a growing demand for repair from societies and governments. In the last years we have seen the rise of citizen-led repair movement across many countries. Right to Repair, Repair Cafes and Ifixit clinics are trending all over Europe and North America.
At the EU policy level repair and re-use also get increasing priority. They provide a better alternative to recycling or material recovery, where the reprocessing of materials often demands intensive use of energy, water, and toxic chemicals. Last year the European Commission proposed the EU Strategy for Sustainable Textiles and Sustainable Products Initiative, particularly focusing on durability, reparability and reusability of textile products placed on the EU market. Both proposals are planned for adoption in the first quarter of 2022.
Among other measures they include mandatory eco-design requirements for textile products, that would allow to increase their durability, reusability and repairability, requesting companies to ensure easy access of their customers to reuse and repair, and the introduction of the Extended Producer Responsibility scheme for the textile sector, which would make brands responsible for their used clothes and textile waste.
We believe that in these circumstances major fashion brands should structurally incorporate repair and reuse in their offer and operations.
1. By producing durable clothes that last and can be easily repaired
Big brands need to increase the quality standards of their garments and ensure their longer lifespans. This means making better choices in the production phase. They should also clearly inform consumers about the expected lifetime of a garment before the purchase.
Brands should plan for reparability, envisioning how clothes will be repaired early in the design phase. This includes identifying key features of garments that are affected by normal wear and tear and making it easy to fix and replace them in a way that does not compromising the aesthetics of a garment. It is important to make it easy to disassemble clothes, so their parts can be renewed and reworked.
2. By providing warranties and accessible repair services for their clothes
Brands should offer warranties on their clothes, so that customers could easily bring them back for professional repair. Several brands like Patagonia, Nudie Jeans and Houdini already do this. Other brands should also offer accessible repair and adjustments services in stores and via mail in service. They can partner for this with repair and restyle providers based in local communities, such as Repair Workshop, or repair designers. The customer experience of returning items for repair should be made as easy as possible, through free shipment and transparent guidelines.
3. By promoting repair and reuse among their customers
Brands should normalize clothing repair among their customises by dedicating efforts to its promotion. They should make it easy and rewarding for people to choose for repair and reuse by setting up in-store displays, online guides, campaigns, and authentic narrative around repair and reuse. Brands need to provide full and clear information on how to care, repair and recycle each of their garments.
4. By taking responsibility for their used clothing via collection, repair and resell.
Brands must be responsible for managing their used and discarded garments and diverting them from landfills. They should set up effective collection, sorting, renewal and reselling schemes, either with their own resources or in partnerships with local organisations. Re-commerce can offer an excellent solution for the problem of overproduction in fashion.
Proposed measures support and reinforce each other and can lead to a drastic improvement of the sustainability of the fashion system. Product repair and reuse are important parts of a circular fashion strategy as they allow to extend the lifespan of clothes. Their mass implementation would be a win-win solution for businesses, people and the planet.
We believe that major fashion brands have enough resources, talent, and brainpower to transform the fashion system, they just need to set for this goal. One of the most responsible things a company can do these days is to make high-quality stuff that lasts for years, so that people don't have to buy more of it.
Email/social media campaign
Please send a call to major fashion brands to structurally incorporate repair and reuse in their work.
Pick a number of brands from this list and send them your request via contact form, email or social media. If you do it via social media, please add #iwantitfixed tag to your post or message.
You can use this draft text or write your own.
You probably know that there is a big problem with textile overproduction and waste. Each year 87% of textiles go to landfill, which has devastating environmental impacts. In the current situation clothing cannot be a disposable item anymore.
I believe that your brand should structurally incorporate repair and reuse in its work.
1. By producing durable clothes that last and can be easily repaired
2. By providing warranties and accessible repair services
3. By promoting repair and reuse among your customers
4. By taking responsibility for your used clothing via collection, repair and resell.
Repair and reuse are important parts of a circular fashion strategy because they extend the lifespan of clothes. Their mass implementation is a win-win solution for businesses, people and the planet. One of the most responsible things a company can do these days is to make high-quality stuff that lasts for years, so that people don't have to buy more of it.
List of brands
Inditex (Zara, Bershka, Stradivarius, Pull&Bear, Massimo Dutti, Oysho)
PVH (Tommy Hilfiger, Calvin Klein)