Is made-to-order clothing the anti-dote of fast fashion?

Guest Blog by Charmaine Lynn, Student and intern

In 2017 the late Vivienne Westwood said, “Buy well, choose well, make it last. Quality rather than quantity: That is true sustainability”. Between the years 2005 and 2015, clothing production doubled while the lifespan of garments decreased. After only seven to 10 times of wearing them, vast amounts of clothes are discarded, as reported by the Ellen Mcarthur Foundation. When it’s put in a sentence and read out loud, and in the context of Vivienne’s words, it sounds like such a ridiculous thing to do. But this is part of our modern reality.


According to Bain and Company, approximately 65% of fashion consumers care about the environment, but only some prioritize sustainability in their shopping. So, for consumers who are not aware of prioritizing sustainability in their shopping, what is it aren’t they willing to sacrifice to look good and sustainable at the same time and can pre-ordered clothing the solution of reducing the impact of fast fashion? Made-to-order clothing has existed since the 1960s, and the culture of having a piece of clothing made for you was once considered a norm. Consumers were aware of the long wait but gleefully accepted it because the garment produced was according to a customer’s size and specification and favoured quality over quantity. Now living in modernity, consumers turn a blind eye to craftsmanship and value convenience and speed, all influenced by capitalism and social media. Without doubt made-to-order clothing saves a big chunk of unnecessary clothing being mass-produced and sent to landfills at the end of the day.


Slow fashion principles that complement made-to-order services can include high-end tailoring and personalized mending, services that Comhla offers in our Mend section - currently featuring three sustainable and ethical companies that believe bespoke services are crucial for lower environmental impact and a stylish consumer. Alterations and customisations do not have to be preserve of high couture - in fact any piece from fast fashion to high street can be refreshed or repurposed to create a beautifully fitting, standout piece for the customer. Below are the companies that you can consider when wanting to mend, alter or customise your clothes.

The Seam Do you have a great idea for a dress but have no idea how to sew or do you have a pair of pants that might be too long at the bottom and needs altering? If you’re struggling with both or just one, contact The Seam. The Seam works with specialist makers offering wardrobe care & repair services from everyday alterations to knitwear repair, leather accessories and footwear restoration, customization, embroidery and made-to-measure. Convenience is a core part of the service so you can book online, be connected with a maker online, and before you know it, you’re on the right track to having your clothes mended up or an outfit custom-made ethically

Revive London Born out of love and passion for fashion, artistry and sustainability by Teresa Carmona, Revive London is a bespoke brand that gives your secondhand or damaged clothes another chance another life by using the art of hand embroidery. The brand’s ethos is to tackle the overproduction and overconsumption of clothes and has taken an oath to “never to make anything new, but rather give new life to the garments we already have”. Revive draws inspiration is from Teresa’s Chilean roots and her love for the natural world, so expect elements of nature and creative designs when you send her your old clothes!

Re-considered The struggle of having a wardrobe full of clothes is not knowing what to wear which results in many clothes only getting worn once. When the time comes for a little wardrobe spring cleaning, it can sometimes be daunting to throw away the clothes that have not received the love they deserve especially when they have so much potential. Luckily, Re-considered has your back as they are a circular fashion business offering custom re-work services for clothes that don’t get worn anymore, transforming them into new items. Re-considered takes upcycling to a whole new level. Everything is produced in-studio or at the small studios of their expert freelance seamster community.


Looking for more reasons why made-to-order and slow fashion sit so well within the sustainable fashion community? Here are some other key points as to why it can influence consumers to create and curate a wardrobe of quality pieces that can be worn sustainably for various occasions.

Made to order clothing is inclusive It’s frustrating to find styles in any retailer that don’t work for your size and shape. However, made-to-order clothing offers inclusivity by letting you personalize and tailor your clothes to your own size, so any styles can work on all bodies.

Made to order prioritizes quality over quantity It’s no surprise by now that although fast fashion is convenient and fast, more often the quality used in its clothing is cheap, won’t last long and sometimes can even be hazardous to health too. However, made-to-order clothing uses higher-quality fabric and there’s thought put into the workmanship of every garment that’s made. It might turn out slightly more costly than what you’d pay for in a fast fashion store, but it will last you a lifetime. Figuring out the cost per wear of your garments is a great way to help understand how much more affordable a quality garment is in real life.

Made to order is equal and fair Non existent labour rights, low pay, poor labour conditions are all features of the fast fashion system. Factories are put under extreme pressure to make large orders and low cost for the big brand names. Made-to-order clothing bypasses that. It only uses fabrics that are needed, producing only what will be worn. Garment makers are recognised for the skills it takes to create a piece, their lifestyles are respected and they have good rates of pay. Its a win win all round.