Give your favourite party dress, much-loved heels or treasured designer bag a refresh with these repair and alteration services that’ll make them look as good as new.
How many times have you decided not to wear an outfit because it no longer fits properly? Or you’ve put on your favourite dress only to realise you’ve worn it so many times it has a hole or a broken zip? It can be all too easy to get rid of our clothes in favour of something new. And with over 300,000 tonnes of unwanted clothes ending up in landfill each year, this happens a lot.
Although there are more sustainable ways of discarding of old clothes – from giving to friends and family or charity shops to donating to animal shelters – there’s another way to fix the problem: sending them to a repair or alteration service.
Taking clothes to a tailor may sound like something only previous generations would do, but the ‘make do and mend’ era is back with a bang.
Breathing life back into old clothes, shoes and bags is a way to make your favourite pieces last longer. By doing this, you’re reducing the need to buy new, saving clothes from going to waste and reusing and recycling.
Charlotte Staerck, CEO and co-founder of Handbag Clinic says: “We buy and sell preowned designer handbags, so can easily identify the significant financial value restoration work adds, plus the benefits it has for the environment. Whether it’s a beloved possession they never want to part with or a bag that had been written off as in need of replacing, people now actively want to reduce their waste by restoring or reinventing an item so they can continue to enjoy it.”
All in all, repair and restoration are sustainable ways to look after your wardrobe. But, we’re busy people, and busy people want things done fast. With everything at a click of a button, convenience is key – and this is why apps such as Sojo (“the Deliveroo of fashion repairs”) are making it easier for us all to repair and alter the contents of our existing wardrobe.
Josephine Philips, founder of repairs and alterations app Sojo, has made it quicker for clothes to get collected, repaired and then redelivered by bike.
So whether you want to make sure your Christmas party dress will last another year with a few stitches here and there, or you want to turn it into a whole different style completely, repair, alteration and customisation services are the answer. Here, we round up eight of the very best to try out.
What it is: The speedy alterations and repair app was founded by 23-year-old Josephine Philips (pictured above) in 2021. Wanting to have a slower approach to fashion consumption, Josephine set out to make it easier for younger generations to mend clothes instead of buying new. Already a hit, Ganni has teamed up with the app to offer free alterations to the brand’s pieces to make sure they’re loved for longer. The app has also joined forces with rental platform Hurr, offering reduced-rate alterations at London’s Kings Road pop-up shop.
How it works: Download the Sojo app from the App Store or Google Play, pop in your postcode and you’ll get connected to a local seamstress. You can then have your item collected and delivered back to your door (newly repaired) via bike within five days at a time that suits you.
Price: This is decided by each seamstress and will depend on what you would like altered, but prices start from £12.
Where to find Sojo: home.sojo.uk
What it is: Focusing on restoring and repairing luxury goods, The Restory revives handbags, shoes and leather goods. While they can make old favourites look as good as new, they can also tweak items to make them appear like a new item all together. For example, give your bag a new strap, change the colour, add initials or give it a complete redesign.
How it works: Book a collection with the online booking form (here) and get one or multiple items collected. You can select what you would like repaired or the skilled team can give you advice in their London atelier. You will be quoted a price based on the alterations needed. Once these are made your items will be sent back to you.
Price: The collection costs £7 if you’re within the UK. The price of the restoration will be quoted based on each item.
Location: UK-based, but available worldwide.
Where to find The Restory: the-restory.com
What it is: Aiming to look after your clothes, the aptly named Clothes Doctor is the destination for all things care and repair. You can buy everything from eco-friendly washing products to leather and knitwear protectors and also book in repair, alteration, restoration and laundry services. Created by Lulu O’Connor in 2017, the platform is designed to help people reconnect with their clothes and also provides help and advice on how to look after them because by extending the life of your clothes by nine months, you can reduce their carbon, water, and landfill footprint by up to 30%.
How it works: Take a look at the services list, fill out a form and get a quote from the team based on the service you need. Post your item in a jiffy bag and your garments will be repaired and sent back to you within seven to 10 days.
Price: Button replacements from £6.50, replace a tear from £15, loose hem from £15 and much more available on the services list.
Where to find Clothes Doctor: clothes-doctor.com
What it is: Have a designer bag that looks a little tatty? The Handbag Clinic is a luxury handbag hospital here to help. With stores in London, Newcastle, Leeds and the Middle East, the brand founded in 2013 offers more than restoration. You can also sell your old bags to the Handbag Clinic to be resold in their stores, or buy pre-loved styles for up to 50% off. The clinic prides itself on making old bags (and shoes) look like new and has the best before and after pictures on their Instagram of items that have been revived with new paintwork, stitching and hardware.
How it works: Use the online form to describe what service you would like and attach pictures of your item. Wait to receive a quote from the team or go in-store so they can see it straight away. If you’re requesting the service online, send your bag via courier with a UPS label. Once received it can take from two to eight weeks to be repaired, depending on what work needs doing.
Price: Collection of items is free with the UPS label but returns (within the UK) are £7.95. Each item will be quoted individually, but prices start from £19.95 for minor stitching and £600+ for a complex restoration. Usually, a full restoration is priced at £225 and includes a clean on the exterior and interior, removal of all areas of wear/scuff/staining from the exterior, any minor stitch repairs and a carefully crafted protection treatment to nourish and protect the leather.
Location: UK and worldwide.
Where to find Handbag Clinic: handbagclinic.co.uk
What it is: Fanfare Label, the ‘sustainable fashion house’ is a brand with a difference. Launched in 2018 by Esther Knight, the aim is to create a more circular shopping space. Focusing on upcycling vintage and pre-loved pieces, the clever team uses textile techniques to transform old pieces into works of art. Creating unique, customised pieces made-to-order online to reduce waste, you can also send in your jeans for Fanfare to work its magic on. Expect a full design service which can include alterations and repairs on request.
How it works: Order your repair on its website, then wait for an email to arrange to send your clothes in. You’ll work with the in-house design team to discuss exactly what you would like. Send in your item and the experts will get to work. The time the repair will take will be discussed while ordering.
Price: £65 for the full jean design service including alterations and repair.
Location: UK and worldwide.
Where to find Fanfare Label: fanfarelabel.com
What it is: Founded by Layla Sargent in 2019, Layla’s grandmother was a seamstress who used to repair all of her clothes. After moving to London, it was tricky to find a tailor so Layla created The Seam in Hackney, helping Londoners love their clothes for longer with repair, alteration and made-to-measure services. The website allows you to find skilled experts conveniently within your local area and if you’re a seamstress yourself, you can sign up to help others.
How it works: Put your address into the website to find local makers. Select which alteration service you’d like, choose your item and the service you need, then find your expert. Your item can be dropped off or posted (by recorded delivery) to your chosen seamstress.
Price: All alteration and repair prices are fixed but made-to-measure services are custom. For example: replacing a zip (£3), adjusting the length of an item (£16).
Location: London and soon to be throughout the UK.
Where to find The Seam: theseam.uk
I Hate Ironing
What it is: I Hate Ironing is for the people who, well… hate ironing. Offering an alternative to getting out the dreaded ironing board, the site is a dry cleaning and laundry same-day delivery service. Not just this, they also offer shoe repairs, trainer cleaning, rejuvenation of suede and leather pieces, as well as clothing alteration and repairs that are super speedy.
How it works: Put in your address online and pick your desired time slot, select which service you would like and your items will be collected and sent to one of I Hate Ironing’s seamstress or tailoring partners. Usually repaired within 48 hours, the items will then be delivered back to you at a time that suits you.
Price: All alteration prices are fixed. They include button repairs for £3, jacket shortening for £35 and patch repair for £13.80.
Location: UK and worldwide.
Where to find I Hate Ironing: ihateironing.com
What it is: Make Nu refreshes your old clothes to make them feel like a brand new addition to your wardrobe. Making repair fun, the site has embroidered patches in the shape of stars, hearts, mushrooms and loads of other shapes to cover holes and threadbare spots. The team can also add visible stitching in the form of spiders or sunflowers. Adding customisation into the mix means your clothes won’t look like they’ve been repaired, just renewed. Make Nu also does traditional alterations including waist and sleeve adjustments and crotch and moth hole repair.
How it works: Choose the service you would like online (from hole repair to patches), include any measurements and choose to drop off or get your item collected. Once in the care of Make Nu, the team will take one to three weeks to transform your pre-loved piece.
Price: Dependant on each piece but patches start at £6, hole repair at £12 and visible mend embroidery at £25.
Where to find Make Nu: makenu.co.uk
Opening image: By Rotation
Images: courtesy of brands