As we promised you this morning, we are kicking off the year with some predictions for the year ahead. Some will be big, far reaching statements and others will be small and very focussed but no less significant.
I’m starting with a theme that we have been looking at and discussing for quite some time. We are calling it ‘The Fashion Afterlife’. We hope that you all embracing the trend towards mending rather than binning your garments. There are many brands, mostly better-end menswear outwear, sportswear or footwear labels, that offer customers a repair or refurnish service. I hope to see more of this in 2015. How great would it be to see Topshop hosting ‘Make Do and Mend’ sewing circles with skilled menders teaching how to darn, patch or mend your Toppers favourites?
We have to slow down this rabid consumption somehow, and wouldn’t you have a higher regard and a bit more love for those old jeans if you’d invested some time in searching out just the right patch to cover up that tear you made when spinning out post tequila slammer? We need to build that stronger relationship with our clothes to make us cherish them, care for them and ultimately wear them for longer so we are each buying less frequently and certainly never again turning a tee into a duster because the hem fell down.
As part of their utterly integrated approach to being a thoroughly sustainable brand, Patagonia have teamed up with IFIXIT to create some easy to follow instructions on how to mend some of their key products. On the Patagonia website, they also have a great page to ‘help make sure that your gear has a long, interesting life.‘ as they put it. It would be wonderful in 2015 to see more brands, great and small, take on this approach to increasing product durability and longevity without negatively affecting aesthetics. It is more than possible.
But what about when your product is beyond the healing powers of needle and thread? How will you give your old faithful an ethical and sustainable end-of-life experience? Well, we think that this is where the real newness comes in. Your first stop is obviously to take unwanted garments to your local charity shop. However, if you are letting it go because it’s beyond all hope of resuscitation, then that’s not an option. Back to Patagonia again, who offer a recycling service for their products that have reached this stage in their lifecycle. Just brilliant.
How amazing would it be to buy a product that comes with an end of life plan already built in? What if brands worked in a really in-depth, sustainable way that encompassed the whole of the products lifecycle, from fibre to even beyond its final gasp of wearability. What if your product came with a promise to provide you with access to information on how to best care for it, protect it and mend it above and beyond those graphic symbols that show you how to wash a thing like Patagonia do? What if you could have the option of returning it to the manufacturer who would then deconstruct it and recycle or re-use all of the elements because they are making future product using the same trims or fibre composition? Or perhaps they have partnered with a company that makes something completely else but that needs your old garments to recycle and remake back into a cup or a bottle or part of a shoe?
We believe that this whole lifecycle and afterlife will be considered and planned in, accessible and soon enough, normal for all of us to engage with. What an exciting prospect for 2015. One thing is sure, if you demand it then it will happen sooner and as far as those that know are concerned, sooner is the only option…