The new United Repair Centre (URC) is designed to encourage both brands and consumers to repair clothing as an attractive alternative to new purchases in order to extend the life of a garment and reduce its footprint.
The facility aims for 300,000 clothing repairs per year, a move Patagonia and Makers Unite say will save an average of 1m kilos of textile waste, and encourage brands to make repair and reuse part of their business and revenue model.
The process enables consumers to contact a brand affiliated with the URC when a garment is in need of repair through use. The brand will then ensure the product ends up at the URC where it will be repaired before being returned to the consumer.
Meanwhile, in addition to helping to tackle textile waste, the URC will provide employment to people with what Patagonia and Makers Unite call a “distance to the labour market” for the next five years.
From September the URC, in collaboration with House of Denim, will offer the United Repair Centre Academy where 300 students will be trained to become certified textile repairers with an immediate opportunity to work with brands.
The parties involved have been brought together by the Amsterdam Economic Board and are supported by a consortium of Dutch investors with a focus on social impact.
“Structural change is needed in the textile industry. Patagonia, therefore, calls on brands not only to look at more sales but rather at stimulating reuse and being able to wear clothing longer through repair and recycling,” says Willem Swager, director of finance and operations EMEA at Patagonia. “It should become normal for more clothing brands to offer this as a service and to see this as business as usual.”
Thami Schweichler, managing director and co-founder Makers Unite, adds: “The fashion industry is at the beginning of a new era. An era where repairs and other new services will make more impact. We are now tackling the fashion industry because something has to be done. For us, it is a unique opportunity to create valuable jobs and we do this naturally with people who are struggling to get a job.”
Research released earlier this week from Primark’s Irish arm, Penneys found the cost of living pressure is prompting more people to repair their own clothes.
Recently, under new rules proposed by the EU Commission, clothing sold in Europe must be longer-lasting, easier to repair and its journey to point of sale traceable.
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