Nowadays clothing has become somewhat disposable. The majority of the clothing produced today are made with poor quality, without longevity in mind and in many cases even planned obsolescence(made to break within a certain time with the intent to create a need for the customers to buy new)
This is a guide of how you can give your clothing a longer life, keeping them looking new for as long as possible.
Do it yourself if you have the skills or if its small and can be done by hand. Or you can look for guider or videos online to see how you can fix something yourself even if you haven’t done it before
Get a professional to do it. Support your local tailors.
Opt for visible repair, partially because you don’t have to worry about the mending looking perfect but it also adds to encourage fixing what’s broken. Let’s make it a trend! #VisibleRepair is a very active hashtag, so you can find a lot of inspiration of what you can do on Pinterest or Instagram.
Remove pilling to make your garments look like new again. Rent, borrow or buy a pilling machine, or try using a razor to see if that works.
Repair as soon as possible, so it doesn’t get worse and therefor harder to fix.
Dye bath when colours are faded instead of buying new
Cover stains instead of throwing away if they won’t go away with any tricks. Another version of Visible Mending. Maybe use iron-on-pads or find other creative ways to cover those stains.
Snip loose strings and threads as soon as you see them (I know it may be tempting to pull in those loose threads, but that can actually make the problem worse. Snip the thread off as soon as you notice it.)
Wash less often (Washing adds wear and tear to your clothes. While necessary when clothes are dirty, unnecessary washing shortens the life of your garments.)
Always check label guidelines to make sure you are following instructions
Liquid laundry detergent wears off the fabric less than a powdered one
Wash with colder water
Skip the fabric softener/conditioner
Hand wash if possible
Use a lower spin cycle
Wash your garments inside out
Air dry (direct sunlight can fade colours) If you have the time, drying in natural sunlight and air is usually best. Dry whites outside and dark colours indoors.
Always wash similar colours to remain the garments colours as long as possible
Use delicates bags for your extra sensitive items, like lace underwear
DAY TO DAY
Hang or fold correctly (try to fold along the seams of the garment)
Airing your clothes can be enough for several uses with natural fibered clothing
Use a steamer instead of an iron – or hang garments in shower room when usingth shower or spray with water, hang up & let wrinkles unfold with the help of gravity
Spot clean small stains instead of washing the whole garment
Invest in good hangers as the thin ones can cause the shoulder parts of your clothing to misshape
Store clothes in a dry space
Fold your knitwear.The weight of jumpers can cause them to lose their shape.
Materials that don’t smell, can me aired out. You can read our guide on materials here:
There are two types of textile fibers – natural and synthetic.
The natural fibers comes from nature, like cotton and flax or from animals, like silk and wool. Synthetic fibers are, well, made from synthetic fibers.
There’s also something that is often referred to as semi-synthetic which are made from natural materials like cellulosa from trees but the fibers are made artificially.
The most common synthetic fibers are made from fossil fuels, and the most common material is known as polyester.
Acrylic is artificially made by petroleum and is a kind of plastic. In the making of acrylic, it takes a lot of toxic chemicals and needs a lot of resources which makes this kind of synthetic fibers one of the worst in terms of environment.
The fabric is very sensitive to heat and often gets pills, those tiny little balls appearing on the surface of the fabric.
As with all synthetic fibers, they release tiny microplastics when they are washed which are entering the water systems, out into the ocean creating a lot of health issues for animals an humans alike. You can read more about how to handle synthetic fibers to minimise the release of microplastics into our waters here:
This material is super stretchy and is very often mixed in with other fibers to make the clothing more elastic, both natural and other synthetic materials.
Helps to keep the shape of clothing
Great to give a snug fit
Perfect for swimwear and tight athletic wear
Loses stretchiness and quality over time(with good quality it can stay elastic for very long though)
Highly polluting and uses toxic chemicals
NYLON / POLYAMIDE:
The only difference is that nylon a name by a company and the fiber is polyamid.
Polyamid is a strong and elastic material that doesn’t wrinkle.
Strong and durable
Weather resistant, makes for great windbreaker or rain jacket
Toxic chemicals are used
This is not only the most common synthetic fiber, but nowadays the most common fibre in clothing overall. Especially used in Fast Fashion, as it is such a cheap and versatile material. You can read more about Fast Fashion here:
The most common material for clothing and while this is a natural fibre and can be grown organically without pesticides the cotton plant need a colossal amount of water to grow.
Properties: It takes up moisture easily which makes it good as towels or sheets but makes it not so good for workout clothing or swimwear as it soaks up the water and becomes very heavy. It also wrinkles easily.
Good moisture absorption
Needs a lot of water to grow
Tendency to shrink
The biggest need for pesticides
If organic it need even more water and land to grow
Loses a lot of its quality when recycled
Hemp comes from the plant Cannabis Sativa and it might be the most sustainable and environmentally friendly option for textile and had been around for 10.000 years although it is not as common anymore due to law regulations of growing the plants.
Growing it is easy as it doesn’t need that much nutrition in the soil, and there’s no need for pesticides either. It can even be good for the land to grow the material as it binds the soil with its long roots, helping to prevent soil erosion. It’s also a nature fiber that is completely biodegradable and requires very little chemicals to create the fabric. The material is stronger than cotton and resembles linen is aesthetics.
So why is hemp such an unusual material in clothing, you might ask.
It wasn’t always like that. Linen and hemp were the most common materials in clothing way back and there are many theories in why hemp has been criminalised to grow in many parts of the world.
3x stronger than cotton
Can be grown without fertilizer or pesticides
Doesn’t need that much water to grow
It binds the soil with its long roots, helping to prevent soil erosion
Completely natural and easy to recycle
Softens more over time
Can sometimes be rough
Hard to find as it is illegal to grow in many parts of the world
The fabric linen is made from flax and comes from the stem of the flower of the plant. It’s a pretty stiff fabric and looks similar to the fabric made from hemp.
It’s not necessary to use pesticides when growing flax as it can grow in quite cold climates, where the risk of vermin is much smaller.
The process of making the linen is a time consuming process which can often bring up the price of it.
From an environmental point of view I’d call linen the second best material after hemp.
Perfect for hot weather and keeps you 3-4 degrees cooler than cotton
Very strong & durable. 2x as strong as cotton
Can be grown without fertilizer or pesticides
Doesn’t need that much water to grow
Completely natural, biodegradable and easy to recycle
Wrinkles very easily
Often needs special and delicate care
Sometimes is dyed with toxic chemicals
When speaking of wool it is from the sheep, other wools normally go under other names, like Angora from the Angora Rabbit or Cashmere from the goats originating from the area Kashmir in India. They all have similar properties though, and here they are:
Good for both hot & cold climates
Dirt & dust resistant
Can be itchy
Often requires special care
Sometimes Mulesing* is used which is highly unethical
Many sheeps have been over bred, causing them pain and suffering
Mulesing is where they cut of, not just the wool but the whole skin around the anal anal an tail area of the sheep. As you can understand, this is considered highly unethical.
This is a technique used mainly in Australia and New Zealand to prevent a parasitic infection by fly larvae especially common among the merino sheep. As they have bred the merino sheep so hard to grow more wool, giving them wrinkly skin which can not only make some sheep collapse or die from heat exhaustion during hot summer months, but urine and moisture gets caught in the heavy wool and wrinkles which attracts the flies who lay their eggs in their skin. When the fly larvae has hatched it starts eating the skin on the sheep and that’s how the infection happens.
Luckily, New Zealand recently (October 1st, 2018) passed a new law to ban Mulesing. Now let’s hope Australia follows, as they are the biggest producer of wool in the world.
This is a type of wool from the animal called Alpaca, who originates from the Andes in South America. It’s a very soft kind of wool and is in many cases better for those with allergies as it, unlike sheep wool doesn’t contain wool grease. It has a very small environmental impact.
The angora wool comes from the angora rabbits. It is an incredibly soft wool but even though it is possible to cut the hair off of the rabbits, there’s far too many cases where it is pulled off of the animals, causing them immense pain and suffering.
This material comes from goats living in Asia, originating in the indian region Kashmir. While the fabric is made from the shedded wool after the winter season, the goats themselves are not very good for the environment for the fact that they tear up the roots from the grass they eat, which eliminates the protection from soil erosion and water washing away the nutrients in the soil, turning the land into desert like landscapes.
Cashmere is a very soft material and if often quite pricey.
Silk is made from the cocoon of silkworms. The most common kind is called Mulberry Silkworm. The textile was invented in China as long as 8.500 years ago.
Good for both hot & cold climates
Is biodegradable and can be recycled
Often boil the worms alive
Viscose is made from cellulose from wood pulp. And while this material is natural, the process of making it into fibers involves a lot of toxic chemicals, therefore it is in its own subcategory of being a semi-synthetic fibre.
There are different kinds of viscose, depending on the process or what material the cellulose is derived from. The most common material is wood pulp from the fir tree from the Pine family, when beechwood is used it is called Modal.
Not very durable and easily lose its shape
Can cause deforestation
Toxic chemicals used
Bamboo has a great reputation in the sustainability market, as it grows extremely fast and doesn’t need pesticides to grow.
However the process of making the bamboo into fibers for textile requires a large amount of chemicals, many of them extremely toxic. Like carbon disulfide which is known to cause birth defects and difficulties procreating. It’s said to get 1 kg of bamboo viscose, it takes about 5,5 kg of chemicals.
Breathable and absorbent
Plant grows very fast
Doesn’t require a lot of water or pesticides
Requires a lot of toxic chemicals to make fibers
The difference from viscose is that Lyocell and Tencel are made in a closed loop system, so the chemicals are recycled. Tencel is like Lyocell but is an Austrian trademark and with this you can be sure the wood used is FSC certified.
Responsible of their toxic chemical use
Strong and machine washable
Can lead to deforestation (unless it’s Tencel or specifically marked with FSC)
This is a semi synthetic fibre, as it is an artificially made fiber made from natural materials coming from the cotton wate. The process is much like the making of the semi synthetic material viscose which you can read more about further down.