Empowering Citizens for Garment Longevity

Insights gathering

Executive Summary

The role played by care, maintenance and repair has been under-explored in wider narratives on fashion and sustainability, and how they can combine to successfully reduce the impact of fashion once in the hands of the user. With the support of evolving technologies, brands and manufacturers can in time be jointly responsible as co-custodians of products’ journey. Providing informed choices at point of purchase, and throughout the use phase about the care and maintenance of garments, can lead to extensive behaviour change; and subsequent reduction in textiles waste and wider environmental impact. The imperative for garment longevity is not just an environmental one but carries economic benefit to all parties through the implementation of circular and sharing business models.

The ‘Empowering Citizens to Enable Garment Longevity’ project sets out to examine how emerging hardware technologies can help industry accelerate garment care and maintenance. This report presents research findings through a three month period, to ascertain the key challenges and opportunities to empower citizens. It is part of ‘Building the Roadmap for Change’ which is Phase 2 of the British Fashion Council’s flagship Circular Fashion Ecosystem (CFE) Project, of which Vanish was a founding partner. Vanish have kindly provided key data, research and insights into citizen behaviours around garment care, enabling analysis of potential solutions and target audiences.



In 2020 the BFC launched IPF with an ambition to unite and accelerate the fashion industry in its goal for a sustainable and equitable future. Focused on creating actionable pathways in response to the climate change agenda, the IPF’s ambition is to build the foundations of a circular fashion ecosystem in the UK by 2030 whilst contributing to the UK’s commitments under the 2015 Paris Agreement on Climate Change. The Circular Fashion Ecosystem (CFE) is the IPF’s flagship programme, underpinning the BFC’s intent for industrial-scale change for the UK fashion industry.

CFE Phase 1 was published in September 2021, which set a blueprint for the fashion industry to reach a circular fashion ecosystem. This included three Target Outcomes, 10 Priority Action Areas and 30 Recommendations to stakeholders. CFE Phase 2 was launched in 2022, with the IPF Team publishing an interim Progress Report, which presented insights into stakeholder advances and challenges to reach a circular fashion ecosystem. Specifically, engagement within the framework of 10 Action Areas and 30 Recommendations from CFE Phase 1. By collating these advances and challenges, the complexity, ease, potential for collaboration and opportunity to leverage existing initiatives to transition to a circular fashion ecosystem were understood.

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Project Overview & Approach

Globally, less than 1% of garments are recycled at the end of life. In the UK alone, around 300,000 tons of textiles are disposed of every year through household waste, ending up in landfill or incinerated. Valuable, untapped materials for the fashion industry, that do not require depletion of natural resources and habitat, or extraction of fossil fuels, are not being utilised.

How can we tackle fashion’s waste issue by empowering citizens to keep their clothes in use for longer? Clothing needs to be both physically and emotionally durable if it is to be long-lasting, and not prematurely disposed. In addition, many citizens claim that information on durability and reparability of products is difficult to find and there is a desire to receive better information. This report will explore the role that technology and innovation play in providing care, maintenance and repair information to citizens.

The European Green Deal proposal suggests that all regulated products will have digital passports by 2030, making it easier to repair or recycle products and facilitate tracking along the supply chain. There is abundant technology in nascent or developed stage to solve many of the issues throughout product lifecycle and across the value chain. QR code technology is already providing information related to the product provenance, and there is the opportunity for it to be leveraged to provide digital garment care and maintenance instructions, supplying the user with expanded information at point of purchase and throughout the use phase.


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In order to drive behavioral change, consumers need to be provided accurate information about the provenance of products, as well as the tools on how to care for them. Increasing traceability (where the garment was made, and by who, where all its component parts were made, and by who), will therefore increase emotional investment. Ultimately, this will help shift the industry’s current take, make, dispose linear model, to seeing fashion as a sharing economy based on service.


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