During World War 2 aka the era of rationing, the British Government issued a pamphlet titled ‘Make Do and Mend’. It carried useful tips on repair, upkeep and reuse of clothes.
A version of that frugal fashion guide, updated for the current fast-fashion era sounds relevant, especially when Britons alone discard around a million tonnes of textiles every year. That generation of waste further compounds the problem as the apparel industry’s production processes carry a hefty environmental cost in terms of energy, water and land use.
Simply extending the life of a garment by an extra nine months could reduce carbon, waste and water footprints by more than one-fifth, according to a 2017 study by UK-based non-profit, WRAP. Therefore, the case for a revival of the ethos of ‘make do and mend’ is stronger than ever before. It presents itself as a low hanging fruit in the race to a sustainable fashion future.
While omnipresent repair shops might still be placed in the distant future, a number of online start-ups have stepped in to meet this growing demand. London-based Clothes Doctor is one such service that allows a time-poor customer to order courier pickups for alterations, customisation and repairs. Another player, Restory offers repairs for luxury shoes and handbags. Speaking of start-ups aimed at increasing clothes longevity, Save Your Wardrobe is a wardrobe management app, set to launch this summer. The app will send its users proactive notifications for repairs, alterations and customisation recommendations for garments in their wardrobe.
Meanwhile, the culture of repair hasn’t quite caught up with the brands. Premium to luxury brands like Gucci and Ralph Lauren might still be coming to the rescue of customers but the mass brands haven’t made progress beyond offering spare buttons with the garment.
Hopefully, the throwaway natured fast fashion will make way for longer-lasting and better quality fashion.
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