Patagonia, the apparel outdoor brand, has allied with Makers Unite, a Dutch textile manufacturing company, encouraging collaborations that can help emerge and support the creative talent of people coming from migration contexts.
In Amsterdam, at Bellamyplein 53, the two companies have opened the United Repair Centre (URC), a center focused on repairing apparel pieces from clients all over Europe, but also involved with other future projects.
The goal is to act as an antidote to disposable clothing, making it easier for brands to incorporate repair and reuse into their business model, thus helping to counter the negative impact of the textile industry.
"The garment industry is at the beginning of a new era, where repairs and other new services will have a greater impact. We are turning to the industry now because there is a desperate need to do something. This is a unique opportunity for us to create valuable jobs, and we think it makes sense to do it with people who are currently struggling to find employment," said Thami Schweichler, managing director and co-founder of Makers Unite.
The URC wants to encourage both brands and consumers to repair garments as a viable alternative to buying new, extending their life and reducing their footprint. With 300,000 repairs per year, the repair center would avoid producing an average of one million kilograms of textile waste.
Over the past 20 years, Europeans have bought 40% more clothing on average, which means the textile industry is now responsible for 10% of global CO2 emissions. If this continues, by 2030 global water use that has reached 79 billion cubic meters per year, CO2 emissions of 1,715 million tons per year, and waste generation that now amounts to 92 billion kilos per year will increase by more than 50% from 2025 and double before 2050. Because repair extends the useful life of a garment, it has an immediate positive impact. For example, wearing a garment for nine months longer reduces that product's CO2 emissions by 27 percent, water consumption by 33%, and waste by 22%.
To join the URC project, a customer must purchase a product from a URC member brand. Over time, the product may need to be repaired due to use. In such a case, the customer can contact the brand, which will arrange for the product to arrive at the URC. After being repaired, the product can be worn again for a long time.
Starting in September 2022, in partnership with House of Denim, URC will open the United Repair Centre Academy, a training center designed to help people who are having difficulty finding work. During this specific training program, students will be trained as certified garment makers and will immediately have the opportunity to work with major brands. The academy aims to train at least 300 students over the next few years.