Uniqlo’s low-cost alternation service for bottoms has long been a unique perk of shopping the Fast Retailing Co. chain. A new initiative, however, will also offer basic on-site repairs to customers’ “well-loved” Uniqlo items.
The brand recently launched Re.Uniqlo Repair Studio, a hub for replacing shirt buttons, mending seam rips, and patching holes, at its New York flagship in SoHo. All repairs cost $5 and are done by Uniqlo’s alterations staff. Additional repairs may also be addressed based on customer needs.
The studio highlights Uniqlo’s “Japanese values of simplicity, quality, and longevity,” according to Daisuke Tsukagoshi, Uniqlo USA CEO.
“We are proud to offer our newest service at our oldest store in the U.S., helping to give our customers’ favorite items an even longer life, benefitting both the wearer and the environment,” he added.
The studio is a part of the Re.Uniqlo program, which promotes a circular apparel system through the four Rs—reduce, replace, re-use, and recycle. Under this initiative, the company collects pre-worn Uniqlo items from customers to be recycled as part of new products. In the process, waste, carbon dioxide emissions, and resource consumption are reduced throughout product lifecycles. The Down Recycling Project, which launched in 2020, was the first item under the Re.Uniqlo banner to recycle collected Uniqlo clothes into new items.
Awareness of the circular economy is growing. Though one-third of consumers surveyed for a recent study by DNV said they have not heard of the circular economy, of those that had, 45 percent indicated they have extensive knowledge and actively participate.
Increasingly, repair studios are becoming part of the retail fold, and companies are investing in training programs to make sure there is enough manpower to keep up with demand.
Coach recently launched a one-year apprenticeship program at its New Jersey workshop. The accessible luxury label already has repair shops to fix broken bags and accessories in 40 percent of its stores and so far, has trained more than 400 in-store craftspeople.
Repair services are especially popular in the jeanswear category. G-Star Raw introduced a pilot program last summer called G-Star Raw Certified Tailors. After selecting six tailors around the Netherlands and training them on the most common repair requests for jeans, G-Star awarded them with a “certification” indicating their G-Star Raw denim expertise. The program allows customers to repair their jeans free of charge at select locations with G-Star footing the bill for services.
Nudie Jeans, the Swedish label that made denim repair part of its DNA, continues to promote the circular tactic. Despite the pandemic interrupting its normal course of business, the brand managed to repair 45,900 jeans in 2020. Repaired jeans were also the focal point of Nudie’s 2021 capsule collection with U.K. retailer Browns.