The Clothes Doctor
Our new partner, Clothes Doctor, are a mending and alteration service modernizing tailoring, to help you get the most out of your most-loved clothing... So you're able to double if not triple their lifespan.
Clothes Doctor provides bespoke repair, alteration and restoration services through an online portal. They offer transparent pricing and one-on-one consultation if your special items need extra attention. They also offer a considered line of eco-washes and maintenance tools to keep your clothes looking their best at home.
We took some time to chat with founder Lucinda (Lulu) O'Connor, to talk about the importance of caring about our clothes, the real impact of mending and what Clothes Doctor has in store for the future.
For those of us meeting you for the first time, can you please tell us about Clothes Doctor and its mission?
Clothes Doctor is an award-winning clothing maintenance brand, providing high-quality clothing repairs, alterations, and restoration services. Our goal is to help you get the most out of your wardrobe and save your most-loved items of clothing from going to landfill.
We are constantly innovating to make our practices more sustainable – from the reusable canvas packaging used to transport your clothes to the fully reusable and recyclable product packaging, we are proud to say that we are virtually plastic-free.
Not only that, as part of our mission to reduce levels of fashion pollution and waste, we have recently launched our range of eco-friendly clothing care products. These are an eco-friendly alternative to dry cleaning, which can be damaging for the environment, fabric, and skin.
What are the advantages of sending items to Clothes Doctor, instead of going to a traditional tailor?
We believe that modern consumers deserve to have access to a trusted seamstress and tailor, but enjoy the convenience of an on-demand, efficient, and effortless service. Clothes Doctor reinvents this outdated industry for the 21st century, focusing on quality, trust, and clear prices upfront.
We make our services and products easily available to customers across the UK via our digital platform. Customers can experience the benefits of expert craftsmanship, easy online ordering, instant and expert advice online, home collection and delivery, and a 6 month guarantee on all orders.
What was the first garment that you ever had mended/altered or adjusted for yourself?
My first alteration was for a Halloween party in 2014. It was a Dead Bride costume! Before that I had never really been aware of or considered mending or altering my clothes. This was one of the reasons I started the company, as I was the target customer!
What led you to choose Cornwall for your workshop?
Cornwall is a beautiful part of the country where I grew up, so I know the area well and knew it would be more cost effective than setting up a workshop in London. In addition, there are very skilled craftspeople in Cornwall, and also an unemployment problem, so I was keen to grow in an area where it would benefit the local economy too.
Clothes Doctor has flourished since its beginnings in 2017. How do you see the company continuing to grow over the next few years and beyond?
We plan to grow to be a profitable and sustainable business, and help millions of people across the UK and abroad reject fast fashion and enjoy their wardrobe for longer.
We are currently working on some very exciting initiatives with a handful of progressive and like-minded businesses. We are also expanding our product range to include more specialist washes, for example, for sportswear. Also an amazing stain removal bar, and several other items which we’ve developed ourselves in our workshop. Watch this space!
In your experience, what are some common mistakes we make at home that damage or shorten the lifespan of our clothes?
One of the most common things we find is knitwear that has been destroyed by clothes moths because of improper storage or because the problem hasn’t been dealt with at the first sign of damage.
Another problem is over-washing or dry cleaning items, or using products that aren’t suitable for the fabric, which can all really shorten the lifespan of a delicate garment.
That’s why we aim to educate our customers on the importance of proper care for each garment and fabric type to minimise the possibility of future damage. It’s easy to consider a damaged item unfit for wearing, so we often find customers come to us with an item that they are ready to throw in the bin, when in fact the damage is easily fixable.
There is a growing awareness about the harmful consequences of fast fashion production. Do you and Clothes Doctor feel that "cheaper" clothes are still worth mending to extend their life, or do you think there is an overlying belief that only expensive clothes are worth maintaining?
We believe that everything is worth mending, even fast fashion items, for many of the reasons explained above. It’s about changing our attitude to clothes and moving away from a throwaway mindset, and that’s why such a big part of our mission is to educate and empower our audience to make more sustainable fashion choices. That said, we do also believe that investing in quality items is best if you are looking to expand your wardrobe, as these will more than likely be made from better quality fabric and therefore last longer. Investing in items you love will also mean that you are more likely to spend the time and money caring for them properly.
How do you respond if somebody were to tell you a blouse was so cheap it's easier to replace than to repair?
I would ask them to consider the garment as a whole: its journey from production through to wear and damage.
It’s important to consider why the garment was cheap in the first place – the wages of the worker who made it, the quality of the fabric etc.
Whilst the cost of repair services are sometimes higher than replacing cheap items, choosing to invest and repair over replacing with another cheap item can actually save you time and money in the long run, as you will end up buying fewer clothes of higher quality. As Vivienne Westwood famously said “Buy less, choose well, make it last.”
If you have a way of quantifying your work, can you estimate how much clothing has been diverted from landfill because of Clothes Doctor? And is this a facet of the mending/tailoring industry that consumers are becoming more aware of?
To date we have saved around 6000 items from landfill, which we’re very proud of.
Definitely consumers are becoming more aware of the damage that the fashion industry does, and there is the beginnings of a movement to change things, but I believe we are still a ways away from a real shift in consumer habits to reduce waste at a national or international level. I believe, to make this happen, consumers need more options available to them to help them make better decisions more easily. The Keep and Clothes Doctor both play a part in this and I believe the sustainable fashion industry will continue to grow and grow from here.
Interview by Phoenix Tarampi / Posted on 24th July 2019