The year of repairs
For years, the outdoor industry has talked about letting customers be able to repair their products. This past year, more and more brands have gone from words to action.
For some brands, offering customers repairs is nothing new. For example, several manufacturers of hiking boots, such as Lundhags of Sweden and Hanwag from Germany, have been changing soles, replacing heels and making other repairs in their own workshops. Swedish Hilleberg the Tentmaker has repair centers in seven countries across Europe. Fjällräven’s waxing stations in outdoor shops around Europe have received jackets, pants and other garments in need of a new layer of its Greenland Wax impregnation.
However, during the past year, more and more outdoor brands have taken up this topic. And above all, they have made it easier for consumers. Some examples include: Patagonia, who in April 2016 began touring around Europe with its mobile repair shop, a kind of mobile home with a bohemian style and the text “Worn Wear Sales & Repair” across its doors. In parallel, Patagonia has published some thirty manuals on their website, where people can get tips on everything from how to replace buttons on jeans, to replacing a zipper on a jacket.
In stores and online
When Bergans of Norway opened its new flagship store in Oslo, a sewing workshop was an obvious feature in the 1,000-square-meter store. Customers also get a 20 percent discount if they bring in an old product that can be repaired and sold in the store’s second-hand department.
The Swedish shoe manufacturer Kavat opened a small concept store this past November in Stockholm’s most exclusive shopping district. There, they offer customers the opportunity to bring in used Kavat shoes, which are then sent down to the company’s factory and shoemakers in Bosnia.
IFixit is an international online platform for people who want to repair things themselves, with manuals from enthusiasts, and manufacturers. In December, Vaude became the first European Outdoor brand to make repair manuals available on iFixit. Customers can now perform simple repairs on Vaude products themselves and order spare parts and tools when necessary. Just go to the iFixit website and type in Vaude in the search field.
Black Friday goes green
On November 25th, Fjällräven made a notable effort in Norway. The American super sale “Black Friday” has spread to Norway, but Fjällräven instead invited people to their Fjällräven Brand Center stores in Oslo and Stavanger for “Green Friday”. With the help of students from a prominent design school in Oslo, they offered all customers free repairs on their Fjällräven products.
There are critics who argue that the repair project is a trend that would go away if, on a large scale, customers really started repairing instead of buying new products. Proponents believe instead that repairs are a way to create loyal customers and to be able to charge for a service rather than a commodity. The repairs may also attract customers to the stores.
Regardless of who is right, it has never been easier to repair a shell jacket or backpack than now.