Sustainable Clothing Guide

22nd June 2017

The Sustainable Clothing Guide is a practical guide to help brands and retailers to enhance the durability and quality of the clothing they produce.



The Sustainable Clothing Guide shares simple steps to best practice on how to design, produce, and sell sustainable clothing that lasts longer, and that can easily be repaired and re-used.

We encourage designers and product technologists within brands and retailers to use this guide as part of their daily work to embed durability at the product design and development stages.

Extending the life of clothes by 9 months of active use would reduce carbon, water & waste footprints by 4-10%

Working together, the clothing industry can pioneer sustainability throughout the lifecycle of clothing. WRAP’s research, Valuing our Clothes, found that the most significant opportunity to reduce carbon, water, and waste is to increase the active life of clothes.



Industry case studies

Case studies

A number of businesses are already trialling the best practices recommended in this guide. Find out more about their work below. 

After identifying an issue with the blind felled hems on its tailored garments and their tendency to fail after washing or wearing, ASOS worked with WRAP to trial a bonding seal on both menswear and womenswear tailored trousers. The trial involved the application of Coats ‘Hemseal’ thread to one hem on each pair of trousers. The garments were then subjected to a series of durability washes to assess how the hem strength performed.

COS ran wash test trials on four different menswear merino wool jumpers, in order to review and assess the optimal care instructions to maximise the garments’ life. Five different wash cycles were undertaken, at 30°C gentle, and in cold wash. After each wash cycle, samples were assessed in terms of stability to washing (via flat measurements); visual assessment of pilling and any colour variation; and overall general appearance.

From engaging with customers and colleagues, F&F saw that there was a need to make its black jeans retain their colour for longer. To resolve this issue, F&F worked with its suppliers Kipas and Huntsman. Through the use of Huntsman’s special black dye, F&F has been able to develop a fabric that stays black even after 20 home laundry washes with the shade change of grade 4. 

John Lewis 
WRAP worked with John Lewis to develop four block patterns for men’s short and long sleeved shirts. The aim was to enhance fit and to implement standardisation across like-for-like products sourced from multiple suppliers and countries. By owning these blocks, John Lewis aimed to improve the ratio of ‘first time right’ samples at the product development stage.  

New Look 
New Look identified an issue with button attachment failure on some womenswear stretch jeans, specifically on the shank button waistband and fly area. In order to understand why the issue was occurring, New Look analysed the returns and product testing data. A study of the faulty New Look samples indicated that the issue tended to be caused by stress at the button attachment area, leading to fabric failure. 

Ted Baker
WRAP worked with Ted Baker to resolve a colourfastness issue on a womenswear garment. As part of this work, the critical paths for design and production were reviewed to identify the information requested from suppliers at each stage of the product development. Consequently, Ted Baker identified an opportunity to review part of its quality management process and has subsequently developed a Fabric Technical Sheet to be used in advance of booking bulk production.

In order to generate a clear picture for all customer returns and service, Whistles undertook a due diligence exercise to amalgamate data captured across different elements of the business. This process helped Customer Services and Technical Compliance teams to identify why garments are most frequently returned, and to understand customer behaviour patterns. Whistles has also developed a Customer Care Guide for store staff to help ensure customers have a positive experience in-store and at home.

How to Measure Guide

How to Measure Guide

This How to Measure Guide has been produced with the clothing industry to help identify the different points and positions of measurements for Men’s trousers and shirts. The guide aims to help garment technologists, designers and buying teams working with garment factories and suppliers to achieve consistency of measurements of products. It will help save time and achieve accuracy, with both fit and pattern amendments, when issuing fit comments and size measurements.

Download the How to Measure Guide here


The following resources can be useful in getting started with durability:

Wearer trial template

See page 31 of the Sustainable Clothing Guide.

Knit and Fabric specifications

Template specifications are available to SCAP signatories and supporters only.

Related documents:

What does durability mean?

Durability helps to drive quality, which: 

  • safeguards against garment failure;
  • strengthens brand reputation; and
  • cements customer satisfaction and loyalty

In a saturated marketplace, quality & durability will help retain customers while attracting new buyers

In this guide we refer to two definitions: physical and emotional durability.

Jump to chapter >>

Enhancing clothing durability 

The WRAP report Design for Longevity identified the top five actions for eight key product categories, which have been summarised in this chapter of the report:
  • Children’s clothing
  • Occasion wear
  • Knitwear
  • Tailoring
  • Denim
  • Sportswear
  • Casualwear
  • Underwear
This chapter also presents a range of design and technology considerations for enhancing durability; as well as consumer use considerations, including customer education, wash and wear guidance, and repair and re-use support. 

Getting started within your organisation

This chapter provides a set of recommendations for getting started with durability in your organisation, including:

Aligning Quality Management Systems

Getting the right people together

Key questions to consider

Jump to chapter >>