Trying to close the loop between the end consumer and waste means baking a new step into the process and the wider supply chain. Repairs have jumped up the agenda for many big and small brands alike; but how do they work in practice? Here are some questions to ask for fashion and footwear brands thinking about building repairs and alterations into their business models.

1. How much will you charge?

That likely depends on the initial price of the garment, and your profit margins as a business; the higher your margin, the more likely you are to be able to offer the service for free. There are also additional deliveries to think about. Swedish brand Nudie Jeans, for instance, has repair shops dotted around the world – because it’s able to work on this scale, free repairs don’t eat into its margins too much. But while a free service might currently be cost effective with consumer interest in repairs still relatively low, you’ll have to be prepared for demand to increase over the coming years.

2. Who will do the repairs? 

At scale, it’s easier to bring the repairs process in-house, especially if you have a physical space to work on them, like Nudie does. But for smaller brands, like Flax, a linen brand based in London, it’s often more economical to outsource the repair to an external tailor. ‘The longer-term aim is to bring the repairs expertise in-house and establish an internal team so we own the entire process,’ say founders Callum McCall and George Rutherford-Jones. 

3. How will it impact the customer?

Brands are experimenting with ways to innovate the customer experience around repairs and make it as simple and communicative as possible – especially without a physical space to interact with customers directly. Flax is in partnership talks with an app-based repair service to make the process smoother for customers to understand and take part in. Meanwhile, London-based Grenson Shoes lets customers request and pay for repairs online, ship their shoes out to the factory and, after the repair period, have them shipped back for a small fee.

This article was first published in Courier issue 43, October/November 2021. To purchase the issue or become a subscriber, head to our webshop.

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