Pile of shirts

Extending the Life of Clothes

2nd December 2015

Extending the life of clothes by just nine extra months of active use would reduce carbon, water and waste footprints by around 20-30% each.

Retailers and brands can make a significant difference by making small changes to increase the durability of clothing during both design and production.

Benefits of producing more durable clothing:
safeguarding against garment failure;
strengthening brand reputation;
cementing customer satisfaction and loyalty; and
reducing the footprint of the clothing industry.

Sustainable Clothing Guide

Sustainable Clothing Guide front cover

The aim of the Sustainable Clothing Guide is to provide the clothing industry with advice and guidance to help them drive change in their supply chain.

It has been designed in a user-friendly format to encourage designers and technologists to use it as part of their daily work.

This Guide will be developed with further information in the future.

The first section focuses on making clothing more durable by implementing simple changes in the design and production phases.

The content has been developed with the help of SCAP signatories and the wider industry.

Case Studies

These case studies share the learning from five durability clothing trials involving SCAP signatories.

Each company explored a range of options of how they could increase the durability of their clothing. 

They then identified and implemented actions they could take within their company and by influencing their supply chain. 

The case studies focus on a range of issues from changes in the design and production phases to improving customer knowledge. 

Case studies

Clothing Durability Report

Clothing Durability Report Front Cover

The Clothing Durability Report has been developed to help clothing retailers and brands to embed durability processes within their company.  

Enhancing the durability of clothing will ultimately extend the life of clothing.

This full and detailed report provides guidance and showcases good practice related to clothing durability such as improved quality and increased re-use and repair.

The impact of extending the life of clothes

WRAP research has shown that increasing the active life of all clothing by nine months would reduce the annual carbon, water and waste footprints of UK clothing by 20-30% each, and cut resource costs by £5 billion.  

These are the largest potential savings of all the actions considered in the research. 

One area that designers and producers can have the most impact is increasing the durability of clothing. 

'Durability' and 'Quality'

‘Durability’ and ‘quality’ are interchangeable for brands and customers. WRAP has been working with the industry to explore this topic and refers to two aspects:

  • Physical: garment design and construction that creates products that can resist damage and wear.
  • Emotional: garment design that considers the product's ability to stay relevant and desirable to the consumer.

Designing more durable clothing also plays a key role with ensuring clothing can be re-used and recycled, extending its useful life.

Sign up to the SCAP ezine for further sustainable clothing news and updates.

Influencing consumers – Love Your Clothes

Top tips, guidance and advice about looking after your clothes is provided to consumers through WRAP’s consumer campaign Love Your Clothes.

This includes advice about how to make clothes last longer through repair and what to do with clothes when they are no longer needed. 

There are also Love Your Clothes resources available for use by companies to help spread the Love Your Clothes messages.