Extending Life Cycles refers to the deliberate efforts made by brands, manufacturers, and consumers to increase the longevity and utility of fashion products. This concept challenges the prevailing culture of fast fashion and disposable consumption by emphasizing the importance of durability, repairability, and timeless design. It involves adopting strategies such as producing high-quality garments, implementing repair and maintenance services, promoting versatile styling options, and encouraging responsible ownership and consumption habits.

Extending life-cycles involves various strategies and actions:

Design for durability

Garments are designed with high-quality materials, construction techniques, and attention to detail, ensuring they can withstand frequent use and wear. This includes selecting robust fabrics, reinforcing stitching, and using durable hardware.

Repair and maintenance

Providing repair services and promoting repair culture play a crucial role in extending the life-cycles of fashion products. Brands can offer repair programs or collaborate with local tailors and seamstresses to facilitate easy and affordable repairs, such as fixing seams, replacing buttons, or mending small tears.

Customization and adaptation

Encouraging customers to personalize and adapt their garments can help prolong their usage. This can be done through features like adjustable sizing, modular designs, detachable elements, or customizable details. By allowing consumers to modify their clothing according to their preferences and changing needs, the garments can be enjoyed for an extended period.

Education and awareness

Raising awareness among consumers about the importance of extending the life-cycles of fashion items is essential. Educating them on proper care instructions, maintenance techniques, and the value of repairing and reusing can help shift attitudes towards more sustainable consumption habits.

Secondhand market and resale

Promoting the resale and secondhand market for fashion products enables their continued use by new owners. Brands can establish their own resale platforms or collaborate with existing marketplaces to facilitate the buying and selling of pre-owned items.

Case studies

RE/DONE

RE/DONE is a denim brand that reconstructs vintage Levi’s jeans into modern fits. They take old jeans and give them new life by tailoring and updating them, offering a unique and sustainable approach to extending the life cycle of denim.

Outerknown

Outerknown is a sustainable clothing brand founded by professional surfer Kelly Slater. They prioritize responsible production and offer a “Lifetime Guarantee” for their products, ensuring that customers can have their items repaired or replaced if they experience any issues.

PACT

PACT is a clothing brand that focuses on organic and ethically-made basics. They offer a “Second Life” program where customers can return their worn-out PACT garments for recycling. These items are transformed into new textiles or other products, minimizing waste and extending the life cycle of the materials.

REI Used Gear

REI, an outdoor retail company, has a program called “Used Gear” where customers can sell their gently used outdoor gear and clothing through their platform. This program encourages the reuse and resale of outdoor apparel and equipment, extending their life-cycles and reducing waste.

ThredUP

ThredUP is an online secondhand clothing marketplace that enables individuals to buy and sell pre-owned fashion items. They offer a convenient platform for extending the life-cycle of clothing by giving it a new home and reducing the need for new production.

BuyMeOnce

BuyMeOnce is an online platform that curates a collection of durable and long-lasting products, including clothing and accessories. They focus on promoting products that are made to last, encouraging customers to make conscious purchasing decisions and choose items with extended life cycles.

Reference

https://ecostandard.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/ECOS-REPORT-HOW-ECODESIGN-CAN-MAKE-OUR-TEXTILES-CIRCULAR.pdf

Oxborrow, L., and Claxton, S. (2016) Extending clothing lifetimes: an exploration of design and supplychain challenges., in Lloyd, P. and Bohemia, E. (eds.), Future Focused Thinking - DRS InternationalConference 2016, 27 - 30 June, Brighton, United Kingdom. https://doi.org/10.21606/drs.2016.482

Laitala, K., & Klepp, I.G. (2011). Environmental improvement by prolonging clothing use period.

Laitala, K., & Klepp, I. G. (2020). What affects garment lifespans? international clothing practices based on a wardrobe survey in China, Germany, Japan, the UK, and the USA. Sustainability, 12(21), 9151. https://doi.org/10.3390/su12219151

Zhang, L., & Hale, J. (2022). Extending the lifetime of clothing through repair and repurpose: An investigation of barriers and enablers in UK citizens. Sustainability, 14(17), 10821. https://doi.org/10.3390/su141710821