Discover more from Following the Footprints
🌱 A New Era for Garment Upcycling: We look at Suay Sew Shop, and the new Patagonia-backed United Repair Centre London.
Featuring Asket, One Good Thing, Suay Sew Shop, Cotopaxi and more...
This week we cover:
Quick Take: A look at the new United Repair Centre London: What is it, who is behind it, and what does it mean for apparel brands?
Brand Spotlight: Weaving a Brighter Future with Suay Sew Shop
In case you missed it: 🌱 'Gear for Good': Reskinned and Cotopaxi are investing in a fairer fashion supply chain, featuring Cotopaxi, Finisterre, Sweaty Betty, TOTM and more.
> Good News Last Week
🎯 Asket announced that along with monetary receipts, customers will receive an impact receipt when they purchase a product. The impact receipt will quantify the environmental impact of the purchase, showing CO2 emissions, water usage and energy consumption. The aim is to create more awareness around consumer footprints.
🎯 One Good Thing announced they are introducing world’s first range of wrapper-less protein and snack bars to reduce plastic waste for on-the-go snackers. The bars are coated with a completely edible, natural film made from a mix of beeswax and other natural ingredients.
🎯 Moving Mountains have partnered with Klimato to analyse their products’ emissions. They determined that swapping a beef burger for a Moving Mountains burger reduces carbon emissions by 92%.
🎯 Mellody announced their direct-to-consumer drop campaign for the world’s first Mellody Plant-Based Honey. They aimed to revolutionise the honey industry to create a sustainable and delicious alternative to traditional honey.
⭐️ Solugen and ADM announced their strategic partnership to enhance the production of plant-based organic acids, to scale Solugen’s unique chemienzymatic process. This project will explore the development of novel molecules to replace conventional fossil fuel-based materials.
⭐️ Abel & Cole announced their partnership with Again to implement a reusable and refillable system where used bottles will be collected and cleaned before they are refilled and restocked. The partnership will start with Belvoir Farm and Brown Cow Organics products.
⭐️ Patagonia has partnered with United Repair Centre and Fashion-Enter to open a repair centre in London, the United Repair Centre London. The centre will train currently unemployed people to repair clothes, promoting a more circular fashion system. The centre aims to have similar successes as the Amsterdam centre opened last year.
> Click on each link to read more.
> Quick Take
A look at the new United Repair Centre London: What is it, who is behind it, and what does it mean for apparel brands?
WRAP’s Textiles 2030 Annual Progress Update for 2022-2023 stated that in 2022, ‘reuse and recycling organisations collected and handled 233,500 tonnes of used textiles, up 8% on 2019’. A promising sign, WRAP also revealed that of the 130 businesses that have signed up to Textiles 2023 (as of August 2023) the number of ‘preloved textiles’ sold to UK consumers by their reuse and recycling signatories in 2022 was equal to 9% of new products being sold by their brand and retailer signatories. Step by step, fashion is aiming to untangle their environmental mess, with a heavy focus on keeping clothes within circulation. That said, there’s still a long way to go - the Ellen MacArthur Foundation reports that ‘less than 2%’ of fashion garments are recycled into new products.
Aiming to tackle this, two weeks ago United Repair Centre, Fashion-Enter (an award winning social enterprise) and Patagonia officially opened the United Repair Centre London (URC London) in Haringey, on Fashion-Enter’s existing facility and with their team in place.
The goal? To employ and train individuals facing employment challenges, including refugees, with a particular focus on clothing and item repairs to extend product life cycles.
A unique partnership, which echoes a commitment to combat the negative environmental impacts of the apparel industry, URC London sets an ambitious goal of performing 30,000 repairs annually by 2025 - with an initial focus on servicing Patagonia's UK customers. The site isn’t the first of its kind - the first United Repair Centre opened in Amsterdam in 2022 and is the result of a collaboration between Makers Unite, Amsterdam Economic Board and (again) Patagonia. To date, the site also covers an incredible 30,000 repairs a year.
The one-stop-shop model offers multiple circular solutions, including high-quality repair, re-commerce, and up-cycling. Their ‘Plug & Play’ approach provides scalable repair services tailored to each brand's unique needs, while leveraging data for valuable insights into product development and sustainability metrics. Not isolated within the UK fashion industry, the centre says it’s received ‘strategic guidance’ from British Fashion Council’s Institute of Positive Fashion and ‘circular economy support’ from the Ellen MacArthur Foundation.
Why is Patagonia involved?
Patagonia announced in July their commitment to expanding their base of clothing repair professionals in the UK, aligning with their broader goal of fixing 100,000 items annually by 2030 (as of July this year, they stated they were at 25,000 items annually). They’re well on this path already - offering repairs through stores and launching the 'Worn and Wear' online portal - so URC London is their latest positive step. It also aligns with Patagonia’s broader purpose, as a company which just last year announced that ‘earth is our only shareholder’.
So, how can other brands get involved?
With 3 additional brands scheduled to join the facility in the next 12 months, as the capacity at URC London grows, so will the opportunity for greater collaboration and ultimately, more and more repairs. The success of their smaller centre in Amsterdam, which handles repairs for brands such as Lululemon and Decathlon, further proves that the more brands get involved and support the centres, the more likely they are to scale internationally. With each new URC site increasing in size, who knows which city they’ll support next.
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> Brand Spotlight
Weaving a Brighter Future with Suay Sew Shop
What do highlighter, persimmon, cognac, tobacco, kalamata, and mantis all have in common? ‘Not much,’ you may be thinking. The answer is that these were all recent community dye bath colour choices at Los Angeles-based Suay Sew Shop!
Making Textiles Personal
Suay, a garment upcycling business, has demonstrated that community support, engagement, and education can exist in harmony with a thoughtful textile industry. Suay is committed to circularity and sees an incredible opportunity for waste reduction and community betterment by encouraging all to “know your grower, know your sew-er.” Their skilled team of 30 sewing professionals, led by co-founders Lindsay Rose Medoff (who has focused on re-made garments for 18+ years) and Tina Dosewell (an expert seamstress), diverted over 250,000 lbs of garments from landfills in 2019 alone. This diversion is so critical because, despite donation efforts, 16 million tons of textiles enter the United States wastestream every year and only ~15% are recycled. Suay fiercely protects their own employees and ensures their workplace is nothing like the exploitative environments that are unfortunately so common within the garment industry. This has manifested as legislative action and projects such as a weekly food distribution campaign for garment workers.
A Re-Made Menu
So, what does Suay have on offer? Quite a lot, actually. They have a core shop of upcycled garments and other textiles (these potholders made from diverted flannel and cotton are especially fun). Their comprehensive repairs program, intended to extend the life of existing garments, is on pause but will be making a bigger and better comeback. The Suay team’s joy and respect for garments is palpable in the memory quilt program, where meaningful textiles become a beautiful, memory-filled relic. Last, but not least, are the dye baths: customers ship (or drop off) items to Suay, noting their desired dye color. What they receive in return is something that looks and feels fresh, no new fabric necessary!
The Power of Community
Suay has challenged every preconception of their industry and created a viable business model, a safe and supportive workplace, and shown consumers an alternative path to fast fashion. They’ve put people at the heart of all decisions, and we believe that consumer brands across industries can benefit from doing the same. Suay’s business model is dependent upon community engagement, but any brand can find relevant ways to engage with and give back to their local communities - everyone will be better for it!