Dec 2, 2021
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Fix it first: How old-school ways are coming to the fashion industry's aid

Dec 2, 2021

How many clothes are thrown away every day because of a hole, wear and tear, or a lost button? Faced with the climate emergency, garment repair and alteration -- two services that have fallen out of favor in recent years -- are emerging as essential alternatives for the fashion industry, which is gradually embracing and even modernizing them.

Whether by professionals or, more frequently, by savvy grandmothers, garment repair and alteration is something that largely disappeared with the era of overconsumption. Now, faced with the challenge of eco-responsibility, the concept is making a comeback. In fact, it's becoming an essential tool in the quest to make our clothes, if not eternal, much more durable.

Reducing the carbon footprint of clothing

A report from the Waste & Resources Action Programme (WRAP) reveals that extending the life of clothes by nine months would reduce their carbon footprint by about 20 to 30%. This is enough to motivate brands -- and even new players -- to fill a space in the market that we thought was gone forever. For several months now, there has been something of a boom in clothing repair services, whether in the luxury or ready-to-wear sectors. Such services are even being modernized to adapt to changing times.

The "Deliveroo" of clothing repair

If you don't have the ability, or the time, to repair your clothes, and you're not (yet) in the habit of going to a tailor or dressmaker, then certain companies can make the job easier. In England, the London-based start-up Sojo lets you entrust your clothes to a courier and have them whisked away for repair in a few days by professionals. The founder, Josephine Philips, turned to second-hand clothes to give up fast fashion for good, and soon realized that this alternative suited her, with one major drawback -- the clothes she found in second-hand stores or online rarely fit her properly. A problem she solved by launching Sojo, a service based on a similar model to Deliveroo.

Londoners can now download the app, select a type of alteration or repair, and wait at home for a courier to pick up the garment in question. This is then dropped at a local tailor's, and once altered or repaired, it is delivered back to the owner's home at a pre-agreed time. Simple. Basic. Efficient. And make no mistake, the service is far from being a marginal outlier. Especially since Sojo has just announced a partnership with the Ganni brand, which now offers its customers free repair or alteration of clothes from previous orders, requiring only the order number and email address associated with the customer account.

Towards an "all-inclusive" offer

While not based on the same model as Sojo, the French platform Les Réparables gives a new lease of life to clothes that need some TLC to boost their lifespan. Other companies dedicated to repairing clothing, accessories, bags and shoes around the world include L'atelier 23/11, The Restory and Clothes Doctor. Brands like Veja and Patagonia have launched their own repair services, each in their own way, although this remains rare outside the luxury sector.

But the emergence of start-ups such as Sojo clearly suggests that it might just be a matter of time. In search of solutions to reduce their impact on the planet, it isn't likely to take fashion brands long to be won over by this age-old process which, if not revolutionary, today seems to be essential for giving our clothes a longer life. What's more, this eco-friendly and economical approach could even help tip the balance when it comes to making a purchase.

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