The Two Rs Of Fashion: Repurpose & Repair

  • by Vivienne Austin

The fashion industry's significant impact on the planet is no secret. This has led to a growing consumer awareness of the consequences of our purchasing decisions. With more readily available information, consumers are trying to make a difference by implementing the fashion’s five Rs: Reduce, Rewear, Recycle, Repair, and Resell. This simple model helps us maximise our existing wardrobe and minimise the impact of our fashion choices.

While as consumers we’re focusing on our role in this, what actions are brands taking to try to make a difference? To kickstart change, a lot of new up-and-coming brands are actually focusing on two Rs: Repair and Repurpose. Finally, it's encouraging to see more brands and retailers are starting to offer product repair and alteration services both in-store and online, a step in the right direction!



Who Is Adopting The Two Rs?

ALIGNE, an online British women's clothing brand, initiated a partnership with SOJO in August last year. Their most loyal customers have not only used the service multiple times but have also expressed an increased likelihood of shopping at ALIGNE due to the assurance of finding the perfect fit. Consequently, the brand has observed a positive correlation between this and customer engagement and purchase frequency.


In a similar vein, Arc’teryx inaugurated a new store on London’s King Street last month, featuring a dedicated ReBird™ station for repairing customers’ damaged branded items. Following suit, Rixo, a contemporary women's clothing label, introduced these services at their Kings Road flagship store, which was unveiled in April the previous year. The brand’s initiative has contributed to reducing return rates while enhancing customer service and satisfaction levels for the brand.


Neem London does not provide in-house services but has teamed up with the Clothes Doctor, which offers alterations such as sleeve adjustments, shortening body length, and repairs. ASKET, who’s mission is to simplify the male wardrobe by offering a permanent collection of timeless pieces, have detailed repair guides on their website for common issues like loose buttons, small holes, and broken seams. Additionally, spare parts such as buttons, labels, zippers, and drawstrings can be ordered as needed.


Levi's Tailor Shop is one of the first repair services within a major fashion brand's store. Skilled tailors and seamstresses can adjust the fit of your jeans by shortening hems, altering the waist, or tapering the legs. They can also personalise denim with patches or embellishments and even transform old jeans into something new. Finally, Barbour provides an online jacket repair service and sells tins of specialised wax for easy at-home re-waxing, ensuring the jacket remains weatherproof.


These are just a few of the contemporary brands that are adopting in-store and online alterations services as part of their offering. It’s a step as small as a simple collaboration and it doesn’t necessarily have to bring the brand any profits, but is there to create trust and spread awareness in the clothes’ repairing system. Nonetheless, the implementation of these services actually has some benefits when it comes down to profits.



The Benefits Of The Two Rs

In-store services drive sales through foot traffic, providing an additional touchpoint for customers to engage positively with a brand and potentially spend more when they visit for a service. Moreover, offering repairs for items brought into the store with damage allows customers to have their items restored at minimal cost to both the brand and themselves.

Both online and in-store services are efficient, but for initial interactions, in-store services are more appealing to customers. However, online alterations play a crucial role in deciding whether a customer returns an item or keeps it. Online return rates for brands are typically around 30% of sales, with fit being a significant factor, making alterations essential for brands to reduce economic losses.


There is currently a significant need for these services due to the increasing number of conscientious consumers. It is encouraging to see a growing awareness of mass consumerism as we shift towards purchasing less, opting for higher quality items, and extending the lifespan of our wardrobes, and it’s exciting to see more brands adopting these practices. We definitely think repairing and repurposing services are the future for fashion brands. Who do you think will adopt these services next?!


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