Uniqlo steps up clothing repair service

Uniqlo has launched a repair service at one of its London flagships as it steps up efforts to turn mending clothes into a viable part of its sustainability plans.

The service was introduced when the Regent Street store opened in April, but has just been expanded. “We struggled to keep up with demand,” says Alessandro Dudech, chief operating officer for Uniqlo in the UK. “Customers were asking for more services, such as patches and embroidery, so we have expanded the team.”

The repair operation is in the basement, which was a barber’s shop when the building was owned by now defunct menswear group Austin Reed. Prices range from £2 for punching a new hole in a belt or replacing a button to £10 for invisible repairs of inseam damage in trousers. 카지노사이트

Currently only clothing bought at Uniqlo will be repaired, but Dudech says it may accept other items in the future. He adds that the company, part of Japan’s Fast Retailing group, aims to roll out the service across the UK and other areas in Europe. It already operates a repair service at its flagship stores in Berlin and New York.

While resale apps such as Depop and Vinted are wildly popular among younger customers, and the likes of Asos, Zalando and H&M have launched resale marketplaces, repair has remained largely neglected in mid-market fashion.

“Repair is hugely significant in terms of keeping products going longer,” says Tim Cooper, emeritus professor of sustainable design and consumption at Nottingham Trent University. “But people often lack the skills to do it themselves and the economics for retailers are difficult,” he adds, contrasting the low cost of making clothes in Asia with the high cost of employing staff in the UK to repair them.

Marilyn Martinez, project manager for fashion at the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, says that repair has become part of the customer-service offering at high-end retailers such as Selfridges, Harrods and Browns. “They have done it through partnerships and found that it improves customer loyalty,” she adds. Cooper says the challenge is “how to get the right business model so it goes mainstream”. 안전한카지노사이트

Uniqlo has improved the economics by adding features such as piping, patches and embroidery to new products damaged during manufacture or transit. This creates unique garments that have higher sale value, Dudech says. Last week a damaged sweatshirt that had been made good with an elaborately embroidered Uniqlo motif was on sale for £70, compared with £40 for the original. The company is also offering customisation, for example adding patterned patches or traditional Japanese embroidery to undamaged new clothing.

Several other characteristics of Uniqlo’s UK business have made matters easier, such as its size, at just 15 stores — rolling out repair to its home market, where it has more than 800 outlets, would be more challenging. Another is the nature of its products: more about function than trend-led fast fashion, they have long-term utility rather than fleeting cool.

“Our clothing is made for everyday living, with particular functions such as elasticity, warmth or quick drying,” says Dudech, adding that the company has long offered an alteration service from many of its stores, so it has some of the personnel required. He said it was “early days”, but that anecdotal evidence suggested cost of living pressures are contributing to increased customer interest in mending clothes instead of replacing them.

According to Martinez, the pandemic and the disruption it has caused also “reminded businesses how much risk there is in global supply chains” and encouraged them to diversify revenue streams. But she cautioned that clothing “had to have emotional as well as physical durability . . . Either the original owner or a new one has to love it enough to want to keep wearing it.” 카지노사이트 추천

The biggest obstacle of all remains the nature of mid-price fashion, where millions appear to have accepted the trade-off between clothing that is cheap but does not last long. “There are companies who want to be more sustainable and I wish them well, but they are still locked into the old business model, which is all about volume,” says Cooper.

Uniqlo’s Dudech says he hopes that extended producer responsibility (EPR) legislation planned for the fashion industry will eventually recognise the importance of repair and help to change behaviour. “The EPR debate at the moment is very much about the manufacture of products, which of course is important, but we would like to see more emphasis on the lifecycle costs,” he explains. “Extending the life of clothes should come first.”

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