How to cut fashion waste

Reuse and repair in the era of fast fashion

In order to cut fashion waste, the French government will pay a repair bonus to help people with their damaged clothes and shoes. An amount from 6€ to 25€ will cover the repairing cost of garments in workshops or cobblers who will be part of the scheme.

Indeed, an alarming amount of clothes end up in landfills. Since fashion brands keep putting out new garments in huge quantities, governments must find solutions.

The point on fashion waste

The news sounds really great! But let’s consider a few things:

Would anyone throw away clothes of value? Of course, not. Or, at least, it is extremely rare. The garments ending up in the garbage bin aren’t pieces made to last but clothing intentionally made for that purpose. Buy, wear and toss. That is mass production: low prices, poor quality and slaves for manufacturing (individuals no one cares about because if they did, they would stop buying certain products).

In fact, over the last twenty years, purchasing fast-fashion clothing and shoes has become popular. Rich and poor people enjoy it. For the rich is a whim, and for the low-income a necessity. But both love purchasing products that last like a bag of chips.

Product longevity is one of the principles that attests to sustainability. What demonstrates product longevity?
Good design
Quality materials
Skilled craftsmanship

What if the repair cost is higher than the average price tag?

Now, it makes sense to put a patch on the bleeding, but common sense should guide human choices. Therefore, can we cut fashion waste without stopping fast fashion? It doesn’t seem likely. In fact, curing the illness without eliminating the cause isn’t a good strategy.

Here comes the second point, if the French government wants to fight fashion waste, why did they allow the Shein runway in Paris? It may sound like a joke, but in the case of ultra-fast fashion, the repair costs would be higher than the price tag! Does it make any sense?

On how to cut fashion waste, there’s no easy solution. But for sure, we need a more radical approach.

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Vintage, not a mere “USED”

Treasure hunting

In Japan, the age of 20 is a big year. We get many gifts and blessings from parents, grandparents, relatives, and literally everyone we know.
When I turned 20, my parents asked me what I wanted for my 20 years celebration. A new bag, dress, shoes…? Perhaps that’s what they were expecting me to say.

However, I said I wanted my dad’s pair of jeans and my mom’s trench coat.
Since my teenage years, I have always enjoyed sneaking into my parent’s closets and randomly trying on their clothes. (I hope they are not reading this blog…) For me, their closet was a load of excitement, like a treasure box.

Vintage has a STORY

My dad gave me a pair of jeans from Gianfranco Ferre. He bought it when he visited Italy 30 years ago. It was the first trip to Europe with my mom, he said.
My mom then gave me a trench coat from Burberry. This was what my dad gifted to her 30 years ago.

These two pieces have some personal stories connected with my parents. They aged with them.
Yet, my parents were happy to give them to me because they liked how their favourite pieces would be worn more frequently, rather than being just stuffed in the closet.

Aged, but never actually
Even after 30 years, they are perfectly holding up. The shape and colour beautifully remain. Because of their high quality, they last over decades, and their value never fades.

I love my parent’s vintage items not just because they are “vintage”, but I do enjoy wearing them because I am giving a new life to the pieces of clothing, which is something truly special.

I brought them here in Italy, and guess what? I went to my first fashion show in Italy with my coolest one. The first pair of jeans my dad bought here 30 years ago.
I can’t wait for another 30 years with these two pieces.

So what is your story with your vintage items?


A piece written by Kotono Sakai, a Japanese girl studying history and fashion at Cattolica university in Milan and interning for suite123

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