How to make your clothing last
“Buy less, Choose well, Make it last” is a statement we stand behind on leading an eco-conscious lifestyle. By doing the three, we hope to create a healthier relationship with consumption through methods such as reducing our carbon footprint and consumption for the greater good.
Whilst “Buy Less, Choose Well” is more of an idea for action when making potential purchases, “Make it last” is something we can all work on with what we already own. Here are our top tips on how to make your garments last from day one.
Wash Less, wash alike and turn down the heat!
We’re looking at two things when it comes to washing garments: what happens to the garment in particular, and what happens with the use of washing machines. On the garment level, the more you wash it (especially in the machine), colour fades and items lose elasticity and shape. If a drying cycle is added on top, items might shrink or go wonky meaning it won’t look or fit in the same way! Give your clothes a few wears between washes and air dry them to make sure they stay fresh, and of course use your conscience to decide whether it’s time to throw it in the laundry pile, and wash similar colours together to ensure little to no colour transfer.
Next time you’re doing laundry, take a look at what’s left on the filter in the machine… and that’s only the fibres that aren’t small enough to seep through the holes that go into the drains. Sometimes, manufacturers use dyes that can contain toxic chemicals that are harmful not only on your skin but also when they’re washed into the lakes and rivers, which affects the wider ecosystem. We wrote a whole blog post on this topic, if you’re interested, you can read it here.
Did you also know that a load done at 30°C often does the trick? Not only are higher temperatures more likely to damage clothes, but also use more energy (According to IPrefer30, it is calculated that if everyone in Europe decreased their average laundry temperature by just 3°C, it would save more than 2,300 GWh/year which is equivalent to the electricity consumption of more than 300,000 people!)
Check your Dry Cleaner
When it comes to items like coats, jackets and delicates, you’ll often find that they are labelled “dry clean only”. Certain items are encouraged to be dry cleaned as it helps preserve the quality of the product, including its shape and colour, to keep it as new looking as possible.
But dry cleaning comes at a cost. When clothes are dry cleaned, they are often treated with heavy-duty solvents and chemicals (like perchloroethylene, which is found to be both neurotoxic and carcinogenic). These solvents pollute the environment through wastewater or evaporate as fumes and the exposure of it also imposes health risks.
GreenEarth dry cleaning is the latest dry cleaning brand method which replaces the petrochemical solvents traditionally used in dry cleaning with liquid silicone, which is an odourless and colourless solution with ideal properties for fabric care and an overall better impact on the environment. For those who are opting for a milder cleaning method using little-to-no chemicals, “wet cleaning” is also a fantastic alternative that uses sophisticated machinery that calculates the specific cleaning procedure to be used on the exact fabric in order to achieve results simply with biodegradable detergents and water. You can find wet cleaning in places such as Blanc Living Co - they offer pick up and deliveries too!
Our culthread coats and jackets are made to last. Taking the Hampstead for example, it’s super low maintenance where you just have to wipe off any marks or dirt with a damp cloth.
Skip the drying cycle
We spoke previously about the impact of high temperature during the washing cycle, but did you know that the high heat exerted during the drying cycle could also seriously damage the materials of your garment and its fabric? That’s why delicates should never be put to tumble dry! Not only that, dryer emits more than a ton of carbon dioxide per year with regular use - not cute! Try air-drying your washed garments on a drying rack, and if you want to speed up the process, just place it next to the radiator.
Photo by Sarah Dorweiler on Unsplash
This goes without saying, the higher quality the product is, the longer it should last. When it comes to “quality”, it differs from person to person. In general, when we buy “quality” products we expect it to “last”, or to be more durable. As a rule of thumb, check the label or find out the composition of the piece of clothing. Feel the garment in person if you can, and see how it hangs, drapes and more importantly how it looks when worn. Check the seams and any attachments to make sure they look sturdy!
Don’t mistake a higher price point to a higher quality either! Note mark-ups of brands and look at how they source their materials: perhaps they are sourcing fabric from different places, accounting in import/export costs? One thing we can be certain of is that a cheap price point is often a cost to the supply chain of the brand. Manufacturers are severely underpaid (even in the UK) which allows the consumer to buy the item at a shockingly cheap price.
Even a quality piece of garment will show wear and tear after being worn over and over again, but it doesn’t mean it’s time to say goodbye! Grab a sewing kit and learn how to replace a missing button, or to repair a split hole or seam as simple as watching YouTube tutorials.