The guide focuses on how to make changes in the design and production phases

The guide focuses on how to make changes in the design and production phases

The UK-based Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) has published new guidance for apparel brands and retailers to extend the active life of their clothes by making simple changes in the design and production phases.

The guide was developed with the help of companies signed up to the group's Sustainable Clothing Action Plan and the wider industry. Offering a fact, WRAP noted that extending the life of clothes by nine extra months of active use would reduce carbon, water and waste footprints by around 20-30% each and cut resource costs by GBP5bn (US$7.6bn).

The "user-friendly format" is designed to encourage designers and technologists to use it as part of their daily work, WRAP said. 

An example of some of the report's suggested actions to boost the useful life of garments include: selecting fabrics and components that are proven to offer durability and colourfastness; using classic styles, innovatively, to help transcend fashion fads; applying fabric finishes to reduce the likelihood of staining; selecting materials and components that withstand the chemicals used in the dry-cleaning process; providing guidance for use and design in re-use and encourage consumers to downcycle old garments; and in denim for example, using ozone bleaching, laser engraving and resin finishes with a lower environmental impact.

The clothing durability report also includes a number of case studies from Cath Kidston, F&F at Tesco, George at Asda, John Lewis and Stella McCartney, who share learnings from the industry durability trials.

"Although 'durability of clothing' is a simple statement, defining what this means in reality for businesses and for consumers is not straightforward, and like many aspects of the fashion and clothing industry it is subject to a multitude of interpretations," WRAP notes. 

"The benefits of producing more durable clothing include: safeguarding against garment failure; strengthening brand reputation; cementing customer satisfaction and loyalty; and reducing the footprint of the clothing industry."

Clothing Durability Report

George, the clothing line of UK supermarket group Asda, was the last apparel brand to join WRAP's Sustainable Clothing Action Plan (SCAP) last month, as the initiative revealed a reduction in water use of 12.5% per tonne of clothing over the last two years by its member companies. Signatories now represent over 50% of the UK retail market by sales, volume and value. 

WRAP sustainable clothing plan cuts carbon and water use

In October, WRAP launched the European Clothing Action Plan (ECAP), a EUR3.6m (US$4.1m) initiative working with clothing brands, retailers and manufacturers and recycling organisations to reduce textile waste across Europe. 

New EUR3.6m project launches to reduce textile waste