That’s the gap she says The Restory has been trying to fill, and the company’s growth shows the demand is there. The company has doubled every year since it launched in 2017, this year adding Manolo Blahnik, Nicholas Kirkwood and retailers Brown Thomas and Arnotts to its list of existing partners such as Farfetch, Harrods and Selfridges.
Repair is growing internally at luxury companies as well, from Burberry to LVMH, as a component of their long-term sustainability strategies. LVMH says it will announce new services by 2023 “to enhance or develop reparability” of products, with efforts underway at Louis Vuitton to develop and implement long-lasting design, a company strategy at Berluti to produce shoes that can be “completely refurbished, whatever their age ”, and Fendi inviting clients to bring back furs in any condition for refurbishing or upcycling into new products.
Kering committed to expanding and enabling easier access to repair services as part of its circularity strategy released in May 2021. Demand at its Shanghai specialist repair hub is growing – it repaired 20,000 items in 2020 and the number is climbing – and the company is in discussions. with a university to create an apprenticeship that could help train craftspeople with the appropriate skills.
The list of other brands offering repairs is growing quickly, from Barbour and Dr Martens to Christian Louboutin and Churches. Hugo Boss also plans to launch a repair service later this year, following the resale program it launched last month.
Brands are starting to see repairs as an avenue to increase consumer loyalty and engagement. There may be a larger force at work as well: the emerging understanding that instead of eating into their own sales, brands can instead use repair to keep customers in the brand’s ecosystem for longer – just as they’ve started to realize resale is an opportunity to do as well.
Providing customers with better aftercare services, Rea argues, is less likely to cannibalise sales of new products – a frequent worry for companies that need to record continuous growth – but instead potentially convert new customers who may be willing to spend more on their products if they feel more confident about the purchase being worthwhile. “If you have access to trusted aftercare, it’s starting to slowly shift that mindset: instead of buying something throwaway, invest in something more long-term. If you choose not to keep it, if you have a desirable brand in good condition that has good aftercare, you can resell it, you can rent it, ”she says.