Sadly it seems to me that most things these days are not made to last. As a society now we have bought into the idea of upgrading and discarding when the latest model or newest trend comes out. In fact some products have in-built obsolescence (think most smart phones) so the manufacturers can get you to buy their latest version This really needs to change if we want to move to a sustainable circular economy – which basically means eradicating the whole idea of waste.
We can change this mind-set starting with our clothes. If we all looked after our clothes better, they would last longer and we wouldn’t need to buy so many. A detailed survey has shown that most fashion purchases are only worn seven times, but if that garment’s life is extended by nine months it’s carbon, waste and water footprint would be reduced by around 20-30% each.
The first rule to ensuring a long life garment is to buy good quality pieces. Spend a bit more with a brand that is known for better quality and look for a heavier weight of fabric and better construction. Buying classic timeless pieces will also mean you are more likely to get more wear out of them too rather than them looking off trend in a matter of months.
How you wash your garment is a major factor in how long it will last. Washing too often, on a high temperature and spin and tumble drying will fade and damage fabrics very quickly. Look at the label and your machine instructions very carefully . Delicate items could even be hand washed and always wash dark colours inside out.
Many items of perfectly good clothing end up in landfill because they need very minor repairs. Repairing missing buttons and broken stitching is a very quick and simple task to do. In fact there are sew and repair groups popping up all over the place where you can learn some great skills to fix those beloved garments. If not there is likely to be a tailor or seamstress locally that for a small fee will be able to repair nearly anything. Some brands like Patagonia even offer their own repair service so are definitely worth considering. Another option if you have tears or holes is to add some embroidered patches to cover them up. You can get all sorts of fun designs now that will add extra personality to your clothes. Jeans can always be turned into shorts if they get torn knees too.
Many other clothing ends up being discarded due to staining. Have a handy box of stain removers that cover every stain type and treat stains immediately with cold water then they will be less likely to set. If you have a really bad stain you could always consider dying the garment another colour.
Dying faded garments is a very simple way to rejuvenate clothes. I have a pair of jeans that I have had so long and wear so often that I need to dye them for a second time. It’s really quick to do in your washing machine and they look like new. Remember that most stitching is synthetic so that will stay the original colour and colour rules apply – a red dye onto an yellow fabric will go orange.
Storing clothes well is another way to look after them. Jumpers should be folded rather than hung as they will stretch out of shape. (Jumpers can be made to look smart again with the use of a pilling comb) Hang your tops after wearing them to air them out and get more use before they need washing. Never use those nasty wire hangers from the dry cleaners, good quality wood hangers won’t stretch your clothes or poke through them! Fabrics need room to breath, so don’t over fill your wardrobe space and then they will crease less too. And make sure the hanging space is cool and dry to prevent and mildew creeping in.
Finally, when the much loved item can no longer be saved you could consider recycling or upcycling it. Pop it in a textile donation bank and it may get a new lease of life as car insulation at the very worst. Upcycling an old jumper into a cushion or patch-working old shirts into a blanket are just a few ideas.
Check out my Pinterest board here for more hints and tips.
#GarmentCare #LovedClothesLast #SustainableFashion