In a fashion industry that contributes to the disposal of clothing and textiles at an alarming rate, taking care of your clothes is an act of resistance. By prolonging the life of a garment for even only nine months, we can decrease its water, waste and carbon footprints by 20-30%. The word "maintenance" is often overlooked when it comes to clothing as this tends to be seen as disposable, but it is at the heart of the fashion industry's waste issue and is a key factor in solving the problem. By prioritising maintenance, we can restore balance to the consumption and disposal of clothing.
Taking proper care of your clothes not only helps them last longer but also contributes to a more ethical fashion industry. This week, we've put together our top tips to help you maintain your clothes and extend their lifespan:
Read the Care Labels
Pay attention to the care labels attached to your garments. They provide specific instructions on how to wash, dry, and iron each item. Following these guidelines will prevent damage and ensure longevity.
Sort Clothes Before Washing
Sort your clothes based on colour, fabric type, and level of dirtiness. Washing delicate fabrics separately and using the appropriate water temperature can prevent colour bleeding, fabric shrinkage, and damage.
Use Gentle Washing Methods
Whenever possible, choose a gentle washing cycle and mild detergents. Harsh washing can weaken fabrics and cause them to lose their shape and color faster. Hand washing is ideal for delicate items.
Wash Less Frequently
Avoid washing your clothes after each wear, as excessive washing contributes to wear and tear. Instead, spot clean minor stains and odours, and air out your garments to freshen them up.
Use Cold Water
Washing clothes in cold water not only saves energy but also helps preserve colours and prevents shrinkage. Cold water is generally sufficient for most garments unless explicitly stated otherwise on the care label.
Hang Dry or Flat Dry
Using a clothesline or drying rack is preferable to using a tumble dryer. The high heat from dryers can weaken fabrics and cause them to shrink or lose elasticity. Hang your clothes or lay them flat to dry naturally.
Iron with Care
Iron your clothes at the appropriate temperature setting for each fabric type. Using too much heat can scorch or burn the fabric, while insufficient heat may not remove wrinkles effectively. It's best to iron clothes when they are slightly damp.
Fold or hang your clothes neatly to avoid wrinkles, stretching, or damage. Use padded hangers for delicate garments and avoid overcrowding your closet to prevent excessive wrinkling and creasing.
Donate or Recycle
When you no longer want or need certain clothes, consider donating them to charitable organisations or recycling programs. This reduces textile waste and helps create a circular fashion economy.
Mend and Repair
Instead of discarding clothes with minor tears, loose buttons, or small holes, learn basic sewing skills to mend and repair them. This extends the lifespan of your clothes and reduces the need for new purchases. Next time one of your knitted or loosely woven jumpers has a hole in it, try darning or when your jeans start wearing out, try patching them Boro style!
If you’re struggling with time and your lifestyle is just too busy for you to take a moment to repair your clothes, then you should do what we do and head over to The Seam’s website! This platform allows you to get your clothes mended and altered by matching you with a local seamstress or seamster who’s perfect for the specific job.
Thankfully, this platform is not only being utilised by individuals but large fashion brands too: Cos, Net-A-Porter, Matches Fashion, the Outnet, Hylo and Mr Porter are all collaborating with The Seam to offer a repair service to their customers. Every UK-based customer of these retailers and brands is able to access repair and alteration services for clothing, bespoke customisation and aftercare for handbags, footwear and jewellery. Although these services are only available in the UK so far, it’s only a matter of time until the start-up expands to a more global level.
Be sure to follow our tips to not only make your clothes last longer but also contribute to a more ethical fashion industry by reducing waste, conserving resources and minimising the need for frequent purchases. Of course, we’d love to hear from you with any more tips so just comment below!
Cherchez La Femme team X
[info sourced on voguebusiness.com, theseam.uk, goodonyou.eco
All images sourced on canva.com]