Sustainability is, as you all already know at this point, an ever-growing focus of the fashion industry. Customers are becoming more demanding of it, and in response, brands are launching ‘sustainable’ collections left, right and centre, as well as doing things such as updating their packaging.
Definitely the most common change I’ve noticed has been a shift towards using more sustainable fabrics, be they natural fibre ones or recycled synthetics. But for every brand that seems to be genuinely trying to do things in a more environmentally-conscious way, there’s another that just throws up a small ‘eco’ collection while continuing to use the same, environmentally-destructive materials as always throughout the rest of its product range. Greenwashing at its finest!
The gold standard of sustainability?
This got me to thinking, what is a sign that a clothing brand is really, truly committed to sustainability? And one answer I kept coming back to was this: providing a repairs service on its products.
This is not to say that brands have to offer repairs to be classed as sustainable. Very, very few lingerie brands currently offer this, even amongst those who put sustainability at the heart of everything they do, and I understand why. For one thing, it can be logistically difficult to implement (you might need to maintain a stockpile of older fabrics, trims and components, just for example).
More importantly though, it isn’t very lucrative – and actually costs the business money when offered for free which, as you’ll see below, is not uncommon to do. True sustainability is about more than just choosing eco-friendly materials; it’s primarily about lowering our overall consumption, which is a hard thing to rationalise when you’re a business that needs to continually sell products to stay afloat. Even sustainable lingerie brands need to make money! However, that’s exactly why when a brand does choose to offer to fix your worn-out garments rather than only giving you the option to buy a new one, I’m more inclined to believe that sustainability is genuinely something they care about.
A quick note: you will notice that the majority of the brands listed below are luxury ones. That also doesn’t surprise me; giving away £5 or £10 in labour value to carry out a complimentary repair isn’t going to completely obliterate their profit margin, and even if a brand charges a fee to at least cover their costs, customers are naturally going to be much more inclined to seek out a repair for a high-end garment they invested a lot of money in than for a cheap one.
Lingerie brands with repairs services
Bordelle (UK) – This premium-priced brand creates iconic bondage-inspired garments that are both beautifully crafted and designed to be timeless. They have introduced a number of sustainability-focused initiatives in the many years I’ve been following them, one of which is a repairs service. Their atelier will need to first assess whether a repair is possible, and there may be a charge depending on the level of work involved in fixing it.
ColieCo [affiliate link] (Portugal) – This small, sustainability-focused lingerie brand is “committed to ensuring that customers get the very best and longest possible wear” from its garments and as such, offers free repairs where possible on items damaged through general wear and tear. The only thing you have to pay is the shipping to send it back.
DTSM (Germany) – This high-end lingerie brand creates modern, statement lingerie and bodywear in its own atelier in Bulgaria. It offers repairs wherever possible, although you’ll need to contact them for more details, including whether there is a fee attached.
Hanro (Austria) – Focused on high-quality, natural fibre basics that are made sustainably, this long-running brand (it was founded in 1884!) offers a free repairs service for its products. Unlike all of the other companies featured on this list however, it’s only available if you can go to one of three stores located in Munich, Vienna and Graz.
Kriss Soonik (Estonia) – A smaller brand that aims for “low impact manufacturing” carried out in its private studio, this one states that it offers free repairs wherever possible. I have personal experience with this brand; although I never contacted them about a repair, I had trouble with detachable marabou details on one of their sets getting damaged via washing, and when I contacted them to clarify washing instructions, was very kindly provided with replacements for those parts free of charge (even though I’d bought the set via a third-party retailer!). So I can attest to their commitment to ensuring customers get the utmost longevity from their creations.
La Fille d’O (Belgium) – Produced in a ‘tiny’, local Belgian factory, this brand wants you to hang onto your purchase for as long as possible and offers a repairs service to help make this happen. There isn’t much information on the site beyond the fact that this service does exist though, so you’ll need to contact them for further details. They also have a recycling program available.
LIVY (France) – This larger, moderately high-priced lingerie brand carries out repairs on its products at its Paris atelier, with guide prices of 15€ for repairs that can be done on a sewing machine and 25€ for those that require more manual attention. If you’re in France you can pop into any LIVY store, or otherwise you can send a photo via email to get a quote and more information.
Luva Huva (UK) – Sustainability is central to this locally made-to-order brand, which offers a repairs service to help keep its products in circulation for as long as possible. Their website states that they if your purchase develops damage such as a broken strap or loose seam, they’ll do their best to fix it free of charge.
Rose Fulbright (UK) – This artist and designer has produced a line of luxurious loungewear in natural fibres such as silk and organic cotton, and in order to extend the garments’ lifespans as much as possible, offers a free repairs service for customers in the UK and EU or the option to pay for it to be upcycled into a completely new garment. What’s more, if your garment has been damaged beyond repair, you can still return it in exchange for a £50 voucher and the knowledge that it will be responsibly recycled.
Something Wicked (UK) – A luxury lingerie brand centred on using leather (although they do have a small synthetic leather selection too), they say they create pieces “designed to be owned for life”. This means a commitment to quality construction, but if something still ends up breaking, you can send it back to their Leeds atelier to be repaired free of charge.
Studio Pia (UK) – This is one of the most ethically- and sustainably-conscious luxury lingerie brands that I can think of, so I wasn’t at all surprised to learn that it offers a repairs service. They acknowledge that their fabrics, while premium, are inherently delicate, and state that they are “more than happy to repair any Studio Pia piece to lengthen its life span and keep it out of landfill”. It’s not specified whether there is a charge for the service.
Torlowei (Nigeria) – Half luxury lingerie brand, half lingerie-inspired clothing brand – and the only company on this list not based in Europe – this one creates exquisitely-beautiful garments with a sustainable approach. Their Sustainability page briefly mentions offering repairs where possible, although you’ll need to contact them for further details.
Underprotection (Denmark) – This B corp-certified lingerie brand offers a ‘lifelong repair guarantee’ on its products. However, in order to avoid unnecessary shipping back and forth and the increased environmental footprint that would come with that, it encourages customers to instead either carry out the repair themselves or find a local tailor to do it. In exchange, you’ll get a gift voucher worth double what you spend on the repair (or would have spent, had you paid a professional to do it).
Bought from a brand that doesn’t offer a repairs service?
What to do when you have damaged lingerie by another brand that you’d prefer to keep? The easiest thing is to seek out a local seamstress / clothing repair shop. An alternations specialist may well be happy to do repairs too. If you’re struggling to find either one, your local dry cleaners or local lingerie boutique may offer a repairs service or at least be able to point you in the direction of someone who does, so it’s worth enquiring.
No luck nearby? Look online. In the US, OmaBra and VanderHosen Lingerie Alterations offer bra repairs. In Australia, you can contact Linda’s Lingerie. In Canada, there’s Esteem Lingerie. And this Netherlands-based company will replace your bra’s straps and underwires for 17.95€ with free shipping in the EU. There are also a growing number of general online clothing repairs companies. The following ones don’t mention lingerie repairs specifically, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they won’t be able to help: in the UK, try contacting Clothes Doctor or The Seam; in the US, try Hidden Opulence, AlterKnit or Tad More Tailoring.
Basic repairs, such as replacing a standard elastic strap, as can cost as little as £10, which can be well worth it for a bra you love and want to continue wearing. Dealing with more significant damage? Don’t assume your lingerie piece is unsalvageable until a repairs specialist tells you so. Perhaps a pretty design can be embroidered over a hole or a permanent stain, for example.
Finally, if you’re so inclined, you could of course try repairing your damaged lingerie yourself. This might not always be an option, depending on the garment complexity and your sewing skills and equipment, but some things are fairly easy to do with just a needle and thread. I’m working on a guide to beginner-friendly lingerie fixes which will hopefully be published within the next few months, so watch this space!
Know of any other lingerie brands that provide a repairs service? (I’d particularly like to hear about any that may exist in the US, since I couldn’t find a single one). Let me know below in the comments section.