By Nadya Salie
The waste of the fashion industry is astronomical. Did you know that it is the second biggest polluter in the world after the oil industry?
In 2020, the UK was found to be the ‘fourth largest producer of textile waste in Europe’. It was reported that in the UK 350,000 tonnes of clothes, that are still in useable condition despite being worn, are dumped in landfills annually. So why aren’t we giving these still-wearable clothes a second life and making fashion more sustainable?
The temptation to order the newest item from Zara or scroll through a brand’s online sale is never-ending. We are constantly bombarded with marketing and notifications to buy more to look “cool”. But do you need a new pair of trousers, or would you wear your old favourite pair if the hole in the knee was mended? As Vivienne Westwood said, “If you love something, wear it all the time.”
Before fast-fashion retailers and online ordering were booming, clothes were made taking time and effort. Clothes were often mended before being discarded. We were gifted hand-me-downs from older cousins. Hemlines were altered and waistlines were taken in to allow a second life to perfectly good clothes, whose only issue was that they no longer fit their previous owner. Put simply, clothes had a lot more value than they are given now.
Amazing initiatives like second-hand clothes swops and kilo sales have popped up, and there has been a rise in second-hand clothing shopping becoming a trending activity. But even more amazing are the clothing repair companies taking London by storm, allowing customers to gain more wear out of what they’ve already got.
Sojo is an online app currently exclusive to London, that allows you to connect with tailors in your area to mend your beloved clothes. Founder Josephine Philips is passionate about making circular fashion mainstream and preventing clothes from heading to landfills. You enter the clothes you want to be fixed into the app and fill in the repairs and alterations that you would like. Then a courier on a bicycle picks up your clothes, takes them to be mended, and then returns them to your home within three to five days. Convenience all for a cost much cheaper than buying a new version of an old beloved.
Another UK platform helping consumers give their favourite outfits longevity is Clothes Doctor. They claim that if you can give your clothing another nine months of life, ‘you can reduce their carbon, water, and landfill footprint by up to 30%’. Which in today’s fast-fashion landfill crisis is a significant win for the environment. As an entirely plastic-free service, they not only repair clothes; they also offer sustainable, eco-friendly laundry products to help you properly care for your garments to extend their wearability. Additionally, they publish helpful articles in their online journal to equip you with the skills to try to repair your clothing at home!
If you have more luxury pieces, Restory is also a great company supporting sustainability in fashion. A favourite among London’s fashionistas, the services they provide can make your designer items look as good, or even better than the day you bought them. Specialising mainly in handbags and shoes, they have expanded to clothing repairs too. Their services are not just accessible online from within the UK but internationally too, making circular fashion a global endeavour.
If these options are unavailable to you, seek out your local tailor in town. By taking your repairs to them, you are not only helping to save the environment, but you are helping to support small businesses as well.
Better yet, save yourself some money and invest some time in watching YouTube videos on how to mend your clothes. Fashion Revolution has some great resources on where to start. Or ask someone in your life who is experienced with making and repairing clothes to teach you how to mend your favourite garment. It is a great way to make that person feel valued and to spend quality time with them whilst saving the environment at the same time.