After encouraging customers to purchase an increasing number of new items of clothing, fast-fashion retailers like H&M, Uniqlo, and Zara now want customers to fix their worn-out clothing.
The actions are being taken as the fashion industry works to bolster its reputation as a green industry in response to consumer and regulatory pressure to reduce its environmental impact. Clothes that are repaired rather than thrown out result in less waste and require fewer resources to produce replacements.
The H&M-owned Cos is working with a start-up to offer customers assistance in repairing damaged dresses and jackets, and Uniqlo is collaborating with a start-up to add repair studios to a number of its stores this year. This year, Zara is also introducing nationwide repair services in several of its most important markets.
While some high-end brands have long provided repair services for more expensive items, mainstream fashion retailers, whose clothing is typically much less expensive, are new to the repair business. Additionally, the trend might pose a threat to the sales of brand-new goods.
In an effort to transform the brand and industry, repairs and other sustainability initiatives are being undertaken, according to Oscar Garca Maceiras, chief executive of Inditex, which owns Zara.
This year, the retailer is launching its "Zara pre-owned" service in France, Germany, and Spain, allowing customers to fix, sell, or donate used clothing both in-person and online. It stated that after starting in the U.K. late last year, the service would roll out in all of its major markets by 2025.
According to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, a U.K.-based nonprofit, a truckload of used textiles is either buried or burned globally every second in the fashion industry, and 92 million tons of clothing are thrown into landfills each year. According to the foundation, fast-fashion clothing is typically discarded after less than a year.