Jeans with rips, tears, and holes are all the rage these days. This trend suggests that we may be ready to wear actual used clothing with real patches. Can marketers move brands into this realm, turning patches that extend the life of a product from a signal of low-class to a signal of care?
“Built to last” used to be Ford’s tag-line; ironically however, this brilliant slogan didn’t last as the 1980’s ushered in “planned obsolescence” as a signal of “progress”. And now we’re all traumatized by the wasteful “fast fashion” movement so prevalent today, as more clothes are incinerated each year than are on the market.
What can your sustainable brand do to buck these trends? Consider integrating into your triple bottom line business model one or more of the following sustainable innovations:
1. Bring the WWII “built to last” culture back: The power of heirloom thinking
Build your purpose brand around a truly tough and long lasting product designed for 9-lives. Use high quality, durable materials. Build your marketing campaign around passing down your products to the next generation (much like the watch and jewelry industries do today).
2. Design your ethical products for the circular economy.
Cradle-to-Cradle is a brilliant sustainability framework to help you design for easy disassembly of a product at end of life, separating each material into technical and biological categories for continuous re-use. A circular economy eliminates the idea of waste and the idea of mining virgin materials.
Products built for circularity are perfect for stand-out marketing campaigns, setting your purpose brand apart as a leader, an innovator, a problem solver, and part of the solution. Don’t miss out on that opportunity to build your brand.
Example: Gugler, C2C Certified
In November 2011, Gugler GmbH succeeded in earning the first Cradle to Cradle Certified™ – Silver certificate for offset printed products. Pureprint Gold by Gugler GmbH is an offset printed product group designed to be recyclable and compostable. Based on the Pureprint Gold components, Gugler GmbH offers a wide range of offset printed paper and cardboard products such as books, magazines, cardboard children’s books, folders, brochures and folding boxes.
3. Offer your customers repair services
The outdoor industry has been a leader in the repair realm for decades. Now we’re seeing the fashion industry move in this direction. Here’s an example and a great marketing campaign (video below) to inspire you:
Founded in 1894, Barbour has been rewaxing and repairing jackets in its South Shields, UK headquarters for almost a hundred years. Regular rewaxing (and repairs if required) extends the life of a Barbour jacket; and many wax jackets are handed down through generations of a family, making them a timeless and responsible choice.
This holiday season, Barbour created a film is based on the true story of Dudley the dachshund, who chewed his owner’s much-adored Barbour jacket. His owner sent it back to Barbour with a note from Dudley to say he was sorry.
“This is a very special Christmas campaign for us, as it’s based on a true story from one of our customers,” says Paul Wilkinson, Global Marketing and Commercial Director at Barbour. “The film highlights how much our Barbour jackets are loved and become an important part of the family. Barbour wax jackets are made to last; and if you rewax your jacket at least once a year, it could last you a lifetime — even if a naughty dachshund does decide to get his teeth into it!”
Drop it in the mail, not the landfill
The company Patagonia has even created a new brand called, Warn Wear to show how re-use isn’t just about patches, but actually recreating a new look and style, using only the best pieces of a returned product.
And more purpose-brands are doing the same. Here’s a list of our favorite purpose brands that offer a repair program:
Nudie Jeans, Mud Jeans and Hiut Denim offer free repairs for life, as well as clothing leasing models; and Eileen Fisher, Levi Strauss, The North Face and Patagonia are among the brands with marketplaces dedicated to selling their recovered and refurbished items.
Purpose, sustainable, and ethical brands have a unique opportunity to inspire their customers and fans to think, act, and spend in new ways. Don’t get left behind. Be part of the new wave of re-use and build your marketing campaign around intergenerational, nature-positive design. Pass down more than feel-good, family memories—pass down the planet too.
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