Jan 23, 2023
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News from Jigsaw, John Lewis and Deloitte shows rise in consumers aiming to repair, not replace

Jan 23, 2023

Multiple news stories suggest that the ‘repair rather than replace’ message is getting through to consumers, driven both by rising eco-consciousness and the cost-of-living crisis.


For one, Jigsaw has announced the expansion of Jigsaw Forever, its circular concept that’s “committed to supporting a more sustainable fashion model”. It said a “pivotal part” of the expansion is the launch of an in-house Repair Rewear service that will be available from later this month.

The expansion also includes a pop-up shop that has just opened in its Kensington High Street store as part of its partnership with MyWardrobeHQ. It carries a curated edit of pre-loved and archive Jigsaw garments.

But the repair element is key and supports the idea of keeping what you’ve got rather than replacing it, even when the replacement might be secondhand.

Repair services used to be largely about ultra-luxury handbags but, just like resale, they’ve moved further down the price scale to premium and even mass-market fashion clothing brands.

But it also seems that consumers are embracing the idea of doing their own repairs. John Lewis has said that consumers wanting to repair and rejuvenate their own clothes (both for reasons of thrift and sustainability) have been boosting its sales of products such darning essentials, sewing equipment and fabric dye.

Its haberdashery department has boomed as darning needles have sold out and repair products such as patches and repair tape have risen 61%. Other popular items such as dressmaker’s chalk and pattern-making accessories have risen 15% and suggest consumers are also looking to make their own clothes from scratch.

Susan Kennedy, head of haberdashery at the retailer, told The Guardian: “Whether they’re looking to rejuvenate their clothes, or have been inspired by the likes of Tom Daley’s knitting efforts last year, we’re seeing more and more customers turn to sewing, stitching and knitting.”

Meanwhile, Wrap, the waste charity, said research shows that an extra nine months added to a garment’s life cam cut its carbon and water footprints by between 20% and 30%.

Lalya Sargent — founder of The Seam, a business that connects menders, cleaners and restorers with consumers — told the newspaper that sales rose close to 300% last year.

Photo: Pixabay/Public domain

And finally, Deloitte’s latest consumer confidence report on Monday also highlighted the fact that consumers are turning to repair.

It said confidence in the final quarter of 2022 improved, albeit by just half a percentage point (+0.6%), based on responses from 3,492 UK consumers aged 18+ shortly after Christmas. Yet despite the slight uptick, confidence remains low and consumers continue to adopt recessionary behaviours.

Many are spending less, using retailer loyalty schemes, and as many as 25% of consumers are planning to put off new purchases altogether by repairing or fixing existing items. That completely turns the ideas of fast fashion that have dominated in recent decades on their head.

Deloitte’s consumer insight lead, Céline Fenech, said: “As we saw over the festive period, consumers have become thrifty. [They’re] also increasingly extending the lifespan of items through fixes and repairs, rather than footing the expenditure of a brand-new purchase.” 

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