Fast Fashion Brands Pivot to Repair Amid Sustainability Pressures

Facing pressure to improve their environmental record, clothing makers want to repair customers’ worn garments.

It’s a trend PYMNTS has been following since last year and the subject of a Tuesday (Aug. 1) Wall Street Journal report on the fast-fashion sector’s repairs campaign.

For example, Zara is set to launch repair services in several of its largest markets, while Uniqlo is adding repair studios to many of its stores. The report also notes that H&M-owned Cos is collaborating with a startup to help customers fix damaged apparel.

Meanwhile, PYMNTS reported in April that Sephora had rolled out a program called Beauty (Re)Purposed, aimed at addressing the problem of difficult-to-recycle packaging waste within the beauty sector. 

And H&M has launched Close the Loop, an initiative that lets customers bring their unwanted clothing to designated in-store recycling bins and get a coupon for their next purchase. As of this spring, the project had collected more than 155,000 tons of textiles.

Also this spring, Lulemon teamed with Australian recycling company Samsara Eco to make recycled nylon and polyester from the apparel waste generated while producing Lululemon’s athletic garments and use it to create brand-new clothing.

In another nod to sustainability in the clothing sphere, Japan Airlines last month began offering a rental clothing service dubbed “Any Wear, Anywhere,” for foreign tourists and business travelers.

This program service — being trialed this summer — lets passengers order their outfit selection online ahead of their journey. These rental clothing gets delivered to a hotel or Airbnb accommodation ahead of arrival and collected at the end of the trip to be washed and recycled.

Back in the world of fashion, the WSJ report quotes Alex Brinck, a London-based repairer who typically charges anything from $19 to $255 per job, even if that means working — as in one case — on a crystal-encrusted Gucci cocktail dress worth nearly $4,000. 

Lower-value jobs, Brinck said, “are hard to justify financially but they’re still important morally.”

She added that while fashion brands should be credited for trying repairs, they’ll need to train thousands of new repairers to make a true difference to their environmental impact.

“Every day I get booking requests from people all over the world —Hong Kong, the U.S.,” Brinck said, “which tells you how rare the skills are.”