With reloving what we already own being on the top of our minds after repairs week, at Clothes Doctor we have been reflecting upon our societal repair habits. With many of us seeking to change our consumer habits for the better, we take a deep dive into repairing and mending.
Our priorities in terms of what we purchase has shifted. More of us are willing to invest in more expensive, better quality garments to wear for longer. In fact, when speaking to our customers, almost every person (98.1%) revealed that they are spending more on higher quality clothes with the intention of them lasting for longer, taking a step away from the fast fashion culture that has permeated our spending habits over the last decades.
You would have thought that with higher quality items being bought, fewer clothes would be thrown out of our wardrobes and into landfill. So, then why in the last year, have over half of consumers (55%) thrown an item of clothing away? It’s obvious that we still need to reflect on our current fashion cycle that still exists, and acknowledge that something is still going very wrong.
Consumers still don’t know how to care for their clothes
Proper clothing care can feel daunting and unrealistic. Often, there is no clear guidance on the best care practices, or instructions simply state ‘dry clean only’, which is expensive and time consuming (and often unnecessary). With many feeling the burden of proper clothing care, we prioritise ease with hot, quick spin washes, and finish it off with a tumble dryer - contributing to decline of the fabric.
But, there are some very simple and easy changes that could have a big impact on the lifetime of our clothes. Firstly, brands need to be providing more detailed clothing care instructions. There are simple changes that can be made to extend the life of clothing. Simply washing less frequently, using cold temperatures, slow spin cycles, and specialist detergents can all protect clothing fibres. Hand washing when there’s time, and always air drying instead of using a tumble dryer. These changes protect fabric fibres and increase the lifetime wearability of our garments.
Prioritising repairs, not replacements
Inevitably, garments will need repairing at some point in their lifetime. Whether that’s a new zip in your most worn jeans, or a new lining in a leather jacket. I’m sure you’ve heard this before, but repairing instead of throwing away is the most radical way to improve the sustainability of your wardrobe. A simple t-shirt for example takes 2,500–2,700 litres of water (three years’ worth of drinking water) to produce. By extending the life of our clothes by 9 months, we can reduce their carbon, water, and landfill impact by up to 30%
While this notion of repairing and restoring has always existed, recently there has been a resurgence in its popularity with consumers and brands beginning to reflect on how little they use this practice. Yet, existing barriers, such as time and price, continue to deter many from repairing instead of discarding; and while some brands have started to offer repairs to customers, this service is still adopted by few.
We need to invest more aggressively in a repair culture. For this, we must make garment restoration accessible, and above all convenient. Clothes Doctor began in 2017 as a digitalised repairs service - on a mission to bring back the tradition of caring for the clothes we love, and making them last for as long as possible. Alongside our specialist detergents and clothing care products, people across the country send in their beloved items to our team of expert seamstresses who repair and restore precious clothing - giving them a new life.
Some brands are leading the way with repairs already. For example, from 2021, any Whistles item purchased that needs mending can be repaired with Clothes Doctor, with Whistles subsidising the cost if purchased in the last six months. Making repairs easy, affordable, and accessible through brands like Whistles builds customer loyalty and trust. For example, 75% of consumers would be more likely to buy from a brand that offered discounted repairs.
The list of other brands offering repairs is growing quickly, discover 15 brands offering in-house or outsourced repair services below:
The North Face
You can also learn how to mend, repair and upcycle at home on our blog here, and on our Instagram page.
If you have an item that needs repairing, get a quote from us here.