WRAP has produced a Sustainable Clothing Guide to share best practice on how to design, produce and sell sustainable clothing.
The charity is looking to encourage designers and technologists within brands and retailers to use the guide to embed durability in products by making them last longer along with ease of repair and reuse.
Extending the life of clothes by nine months of active use would reduce carbon, water and waste footprints by 4-10%, WRAP estimates.
A number of cases studies illustrate how small changes can make a difference. Companies involved include ASOS, COS, John Lewis, New Look and Ted Baker.
The Textile Recycling Association was involved in the guide through WRAP’s work on the Sustainable Clothing Action Plan. Director Alan Wheeler said it was generally believed that 80% of a product’s environmental impact is decided at its design stage and this was more or less true for clothing.
“To improve the overall sustainability of the clothing supply chain, we need to sell more clothing that is better quality and more durable. Apart from being physically durable it needs to have emotional durability as well.”
He said there was no point having an item made to last but then goes out of fashion so quickly that it sits in a cupboard for several years before being discarded. A well-designed garment would take into consideration how easily it can be recycled after it can no longer be reused.
“Ultimately, this needs to backed up with information for the consumer about how to care for the product and where they can take it to be reused or recycled when they no longer want it. This guide will help designers, technologists and retailers to address these key issues,” he said.