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Garder et réparer

21 July, 2023

We tend to think of the French as more fashionable than us Brits. But what we don’t realise is that style comes at a cost. The French throw away over 700,000 tonnes of clothes each year (nearly double that of the UK), two-thirds of which end up in landfill. Now France wants to change that.  

In the UK, Make do and mend was a mantra of WWII and we are seeing more of this, particularly as purse strings tighten. But sometimes we need a little extra incentive to make the change. This is exactly the thinking behind France’s new scheme where customers will be able to claim between €7 to €25 for repairing shoes and clothes from a €154m government fund. 

The scheme aims to force brands to have more traceability and to financially support organisations specialising in reusing and recycling clothing. The hope is that half of the effort will be made by businesses, particularly large companies, a quarter by the state and local authorities, and the final quarter by households. 

Critics say it doesn’t go far enough and is putting too much responsibility on the individual. However, the principles behind the idea are sound, encouraging more of us to buy clothes that last and incentivise us to repair those that don’t. The challenge will be to help businesses make this type of action the norm. Interestingly there are examples of brands taking the lead on this – just look at Berghaus or Nudie Jeans and their respective free repair service. Unfortunately, these examples are few and far between and are often hidden away. 

Let’s hope that this scheme inspires us all to do more and for business to openly help us all mend our ways.

By David Lourie

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