M&S to launch clothing repairs service

Stock image of a woman using a sewing machine to repair a colourful item of clothing
[Getty Images]

Marks & Spencer is launching a new service for clothing repairs and alterations.

From August, customers will be able to book through a dedicated online hub and have their fixed items posted back to them within seven to ten days.

The work will be carried out by Deliveroo-style repairs start-up Sojo, and its in-house team of tailors, with prices starting at £5.

The move comes as retailers try to encourage more sustainable habits among their shoppers.

Sojo launched during the Covid-19 pandemic in 2021 with a mission to make repairing, not simply replacing, clothing more mainstream.

M&S said its partnership with Sojo aimed to provide customers with ways to extend the life of their clothing.

“Through the launch of our repair service, we’re making it even easier for customers to give their clothes Another life, whether they are using our new repair service or long-standing clothes recycling scheme," said Richard Price, managing director of clothing & home at M&S.

A smiling Sojo founder Josephine Philips, wearing a checked jacket over a black top, with a brown scarf tied round her hair and big hoop earrings
Sojo's Josephine Philips wants to make repairing clothes more mainstream [BBC]

Josephine Philips, Sojo's founder and chief executive, said the partnership marked "an incredibly big step" towards its mission of making clothes repairs more accessible.

Siobhan Gehin, a retail expert and senior partner at consulting firm Roland Berger, told the BBC that by partnering with smaller, independent repair firms, large brands can provide customers with convenient alterations without having to create the infrastructure for these services themselves.

Growing trend among retailers

M&S is not alone in looking to repair services as a way to seemingly embrace and encourage sustainability.

In January, Sojo took up a permanent space in Selfridges on London’s Oxford Street to provide customers with access to its clothing repairs service. The central London department store also gives shoppers access to handbag and trainer restoration services.

Japanese fashion retailer Uniqlo, perhaps best known for its viral shoulder bag, offers clothing repairs and additional services such as embroidery for Uniqlo items at six of its UK stores.

John Lewis has made its fashion rental service and recycling scheme a key part of its consumer-facing sustainability strategy, alongside accepting and reselling pre-loved products such as electronics and furniture.

High Street stores Primark and H&M provide customers with online guides for repairing and maintaining their clothes, such as how to sew buttons and zips on to items or rework them entirely. Primark has also held free repair workshops for customers across the UK and Europe since 2022.

'Regulatory pressures'

In 2023, France launched a scheme encouraging consumers to mend their clothes rather than throw them away by letting them claim a discount of between €6 (£5) and €25 (£21) on the price of an individual repair.

M&S said its research suggested only 10% of the UK population feels confident enough to carry out clothing repairs themselves.

But as well meeting greater consumer demand for more sustainable practices, Ms Gethin pointed out that retailers may also be "thinking forward to regulatory pressures" they may face in future if they are not seen to be taking action.

The fashion industry in particular has faced growing scrutiny from regulators over its environmental impact and commitment to producing less cheap or non-recyclable clothing.

Earlier this year Asos, Boohoo and George pledged to make claims about the environmental impact of their clothes more clear and accurate amid wider concerns about greenwashing in the sector.