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Will France’s Sustainable Fashion Bonus Scheme Spark a Repair Revolution?


By Debbie Shakespeare senior director of sustainability and compliance, Apparel Solutions, Avery Dennison

France, renowned for its fashion prowess, is embarking on a repair renaissance.

A new national bonus scheme promotes sustainable fashion by encouraging consumers to repair clothes and shoes instead of buying new ones. Starting from October, customers can enjoy a direct subsidy of €6 to €25 per repair, paid by the state’s €154m special fund. All repairs must be carried out by a mender or cobbler certified by Refashion, the eco-organisation behind the scheme. 

Increasing public awareness of the damaging nature of fast fashion is at the heart of the scheme. Will it spark a revolution in the way shoppers care for their clothes? What else needs to happen to ensure the lifecycle of clothes can be usefully extended for the good of the planet? And how can Digital ID technology help?

Photographer, Steve Bainbridge – Repair Week at FC Designer Collective

Time to fix broken clothing 

France is taking a brave first step. The French government should be congratulated for leading the way in Europe with schemes intended to encourage an emissions-reducing circular economy for clothing. 

As a proponent of the repair and reuse model, I find it commendable that this initiative saves consumers both the expense and the time of repairing their own clothes. It will stamp the importance of clothing care and repair on the psyche of the nation. However, not all countries are likely to subsidise the switch in consumer behaviour that is so urgently needed to address the climate crisis. France has committed funding for five years, but what happens after that? 

In some cases, retailers globally are taking the initiative to encourage repair themselves. Patagonia and Finisterre offer repair and reinforcement services, for example. Luxury brand Mulberry has a ‘Care & Repairs’ department, where expert technicians restore Mulberry products, with each job individually priced. The business model works effectively for top-end brands because consumers tend to view a high-value item’s repair as worth paying for. However, how many people would pay £20 to get a £30 jacket fixed? 

DIY repair requires education 

One way brands are closing that gap is by encouraging consumers to learn how to fix everyday clothes themselves. Levis has a dedicated webpage on ‘how to repair denim’. London-based designer Marie Lueder aims to supply mending kits with certain garments, linked to videos about how to repair them, as noted in the British Fashion Council’s recent report entitled Empowering citizens for garment longevity.

Fashion brands are also increasingly aware that they must meet incoming EU sustainability laws. This will be the main catalyst for clothes being designed for durability and easy repair, I believe, as those that are not will be taxed. Through the circular economy action plan (CEAP), the European Commission aims to overhaul how products are designed and encourage sustainable consumption so that waste is prevented, and resources used are kept in the EU economy for as long as possible. 

If mass-market brands do opt to operate large-scale repair and repurposing enterprises themselves to meet sustainability targets – while remaining profitable – they’ll need third-party specialists or in-house technology to do so. It’s encouraging therefore that investors have put millions into start-ups in the repair space in the past year, as BoF reported, driven by consumer interest in clothing repair and the spectre of compliance requirements on the horizon. 

DPPs can further plug the sewing skills gap

Mass adoption of garment repair, feeding stock into a fast-growing second-hand resale market, is great news for the future of the planet. When jeans, t-shirts and dresses are mended, revamped, and worn again, or sold again, textile waste is reduced. Fewer items will be dumped in landfill or incinerated. 

Resale garments enter the circular economy and can make money for the original retailer once efficiencies of scale kick in. Revitalised second-hand clothes can also make cash for consumers who use online marketplaces for re-commerce, up-cycling and vintage sales. All of this is needed for fashion to reduce its carbon impact and become circular. And technology is poised to play its part, in the form of digital IDs, scannable with a smartphone, giving access to a data platform.

Digital labels will provide all the relevant stakeholders with vital information to support this garment longevity revolution. For instance, Avery Dennison’s digital care labels and our atma.io connected product cloud are in place to help brands progress towards models of repair and re-use. 

Many apparel brands are already using Digital Product Passport (DPP) technology, linking care labels to rich online product data, such as material content and authenticity data. For an item to be successfully repairable, it must be designed to a high standard of quality to begin with. 

DPPs could store verification data that will give consumers confidence they are buying a durable, fixable item. DPPs can also store a wealth of ‘how to’ information, helping instil long-lost skills of darning and sewing, for example, or restyling tips. Richer brand storytelling through DPPs will support consumers as they take on a more ‘emotional’ model of clothing consumption – where they become responsible for an item’s extended lifecycle.

Clothes deserve a second life 

My hope is that France’s courageous clothing repair venture will unleash winds of change in the fashion world. Breathing new life into old clothes must become an everyday activity for us all, so starting on that journey deserves applause. I am also excited by the role Digital ID technology and product data transparency will play as we switch to circular models of production and consumption like this. 

Thanks to the latest digital innovations, we can begin to engage with shoppers and drive the behaviour change that is so urgently needed. By extending the life of garments – repairing, reselling, or upcycling worn items and recycling fabrics – we can make real progress towards crucial sustainability goals.


1 https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-66174349

2 https://refashion.fr/en

3 https://finisterre.com/collections/repairs-lived-loved

4 https://www.mulberry.com/gb/customer-services/care-and-repairs/how-it-works

5 https://www.levi.com/GB/en_GB/blog/article/how-to-repair-denim

6 https://luederluederlueder.com/

7 https://www.britishfashioncouncil.co.uk/bfcnews/4745/INSIGHTS-REPORT-EMPOWERING-CITIZENS-FOR-GARMENT-LONGEVITY

8 https://environment.ec.europa.eu/strategy/circular-economy-action-plan_en

9 https://www.businessoffashion.com/articles/sustainability/repairs-alterations-start-up-circular-fashion-sojo-the-restory-seam-tersus-save-your-wardrobe/

10 https://www.atma.io/

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