John Lewis is tackling fashion waste by launching a hand-me-down drive with extended name labels attached to children’s coats that can be easily amended by parents.
The department store chain is introducing organic cotton labelling inside its own-brand children’s coats so the new owner can cross out the name of the last person and write a new name. Coats have been chosen to test this labelling because they have a long life and are often the most costly garment for parents.
A new slogan – “Wear it, love it, hand it down” – is also appearing on all cardboard labels attached to the retailer’s entire ranges of own-brand babywear and childrenswear.
Baby and childrenswear represent a disproportionate amount of the thousands of tonnes of clothing in landfill because children quickly outgrow their clothing, typically moving up seven sizes in their first two years. As well as the high cost and limited lifespan, mass production of garments places huge pressure on the environment through waste, water consumption and carbon emissions. Britons bin about 300,000 tonnes of clothing a year.
Caroline Bettis, the head childrenswear buyer at John Lewis, said: “We’re proud of the quality of our clothes and want them to have a really long life and be handed down again and again.
“We hope these new labels will help to grow the culture of handing down clothes which can be worn again by other children.”
The retailer will also from next week further extend its fashion “buyback” trial covering any worn and unwanted clothing from its customers – including underwear and old socks – to five more stores and a Waitrose branch.
In an industry first trialled at its London Oxford Street and Oxford shops, customers can arrange through an app to have any unwanted clothing that they bought from John Lewis collected from their home, and will be paid for each item regardless of its condition.
Among other high-street clothing recycling initiatives, the fashion retailer Monsoon has also introduced a “Love. Wear. Recycle” label.
In another solution to the high turnover of barely worn babygrows and vests, families are saving time and money by renting or hiring clothing “bundles”. Subscribers pay a monthly subscription to companies such as Bundlee and Belles and Babes which offer ethical-branded, age-appropriate clothes and receive new outfits in the post. The clothes, washed, ironed and ready to be worn again, are sent back when the child has outgrown them, with another bundle arriving soon after.