Fashion brands extending their garments’ lives through repair programs
In partnership with several organisations and government agencies, the Australian Fashion Council this month announced the final stage of its Seamless scheme to reduce the tonnes of clothing waste sent to landfill every year in the country.
The scheme imposes a four-cent levy on each garment, in an effort to fund research into sustainability for the fashion industry and set up the infrastructure for textile recycling. While the scheme isn’t mandatory, it encourages businesses to embrace circularity.
The scheme is important as it also paves the way for fashion businesses to take full responsibility for the complete life cycle of a garment they produce by offering consumers access to their rental, resale and repair services.
Read on for the story of a global fashion brand that has already navigated the trickier aspects associated with this approach, including garment collection and monetization – and has successfully integrated recycle and repair into its business models.
It Is Nudie Jeans!
The Swedish fashion brand is known for its sustainable, dry-wash jeans made entirely from organic cotton. Inside every Nudie Jeans store is a repair department for damaged pieces of denim.
According to Kevin Gelsi, Nudie Jeans’ circular product manager, the in-store repair program started on a very small scale 15 years ago.
Back then, stores used to have a hemming machine to shorten jean-leg lengths. But over time, employees at the stores started using the machines to repair their own jeans and even offered the service to their customers.
Gradually, the service started becoming a “word-of-mouth attraction”, said Gelsi. The label soon decided to make the repairs an official concept of its own as they grew in popularity.
In 2012, Nudie Jeans launched its Reuse take-back program, where customers exchanging their old, worn-out pair were offered a 20% discount on a new pair of Nudies. The exchanged items were resold, saved for recycling projects, or used for patches in repairs.
Today, the promising program includes all Nudie garments and the discount incentive helps customers get their hands on secondhand jeans.
Pointing to the program’s success, the label repaired a whopping 65,386 pairs of jeans last year, collected 20,722 post-consumer jeans, and resold 3,984 pairs.