This series of guidance notes provides different audiences within product development teams (e.g. designers, buyers, retailers) advice on designing to improve clothing life.


Extending clothing life has been identified as the single largest opportunity to reduce the carbon, water and waste footprints of clothing in the UK.

Quite simply, if clothes have a longer usable life, they can be replaced less frequently – reducing the volume discarded and meaning fewer resources are consumed in manufacturing.

Research by WRAP found that extending the average life of clothes by just nine months would save £5 billion in resources used to supply, launder and dispose of clothing.


The guidance notes were drafted by technical specialists and informed by advice from industry. The accompanying notes are formatted as a series of bullet points that can be used in presentations or for ready reference during design, and cover the following eight categories:


Childrenswear covers clothing for children from babies to teenagers, including schoolwear, nightwear, trousers, skirts, tshirts, coats, knitwear, party clothes and fancy dress.

Top 5 tips for childrenswear:

  • Designing in a growth allowance.
  • Selecting fabrics and components that are proven to offer durability and colourfastness.
  • Applying fabric finishes to reduce the likelihood of staining.
  • Designing garments for multi-functionality (such as reversible coats).
  • Reinforcing weak areas, or areas liable to extra stress such as elbows and knees.


Occasionwear refers to clothes that are worn for special events and occasions. It includes bridal wear, dinner jackets, evening wear, party dresses and high-quality suits.

Top 5 tips for occasionwear:

  • Using classic styles, innovatively, to help transcend fashion fads.
  • Ensuring high quality fabrics are used when designing garments.
  • Designing garments that are multi-functional, to give the customer the option to wear different parts of the outfit with other clothes.
  • Facilitating alteration through adjustable waistbands, generous seams or additional buttons.
  • Selecting materials and components that can withstand the chemicals used in the dry-cleaning process.


Knitwear refers to manufactured styles produced by weft knitting, including jumpers, cardigans and dresses.

Top 5 tips for knitwear:

  • Using quality yarn and fibres to improve the strength and colourfastness of knitted garments.
  • Ensuring care and laundry advice is clear and simple.
  • Taking steps to preserve the quality of knitted fabric (including colourfastness) and garment manufacture throughout production.
  • Providing guidance for use and design in re-use and encourage consumers to downcycle old garments.
  • Focusing on classic design and loose shapes.


Tailoring refers to formal wear such as suits, jackets, skirts, trousers and coats.

Top 5 tips for tailoring:

  • Using high quality outer fabric and ensuring lining and interlining are compatible.
  • Applying classic styles, cut and colours, and building-in features to allow easy adjustment size and shape alteration.
  • Including clear guidance and advice on the care label.
  • Where possible utilising detachable elements, such as collars or linings, which can be replaced when worn.
  • Providing a specialist aftercare service, as well as mending and repair advice.


Denim encompasses not only jeans, but also denim jackets, dresses, shirts and skirts.

Top 5 tips for denim:

  • Using ozone bleaching, laser engraving and resin finishes to create the desired effects with a lower environmental impact.
  • Enhancing fabric strength and surface quality by applying sustainable dyeing, bleaching and surface treatments.
  • Applying traditional, robust manufacturing methods and mass customisation strategies to products.
  • Educating consumers about the unique characteristics of denim and how to care for it and repair, re-use or repurpose it.
  • Creating emotional attachment through ethical sourcing and production, no waste and craft design approaches.


Sportswear includes garments used for physical activity, from low-impact activities such as jogging, yoga, golf and walking to high-impact activities such as tennis, running, football and gym activities. It does not include swimwear.

Top 5 tips for sportswear:

  • Using durable material, with reinforced seams and areas where rubbing or chafing occurs.
  • Providing care instructions that encourage airing clothes or washing promptly after use.
  • Encouraging longer attachment to items through the use of wearable technology or personalisation.
  • Adding soil-resistant or antibacterial finishes to reduce problems from body perspiration and odour.
  • Selecting warp-knitted fabrics with open fabric structures (e.g. nets and mesh) to help the transport of moisture.


Casualwear includes t-shirts, leggings, sweat tops, skirts, trousers, shorts, blouses and shirts.

Top 5 tips for casualwear:

  • Selecting high-quality fabric and testing rigorously for performance, including colourfastness and pilling.
  • Providing clear and simple care and laundry instructions.
  • Designing-in adjustable features to accommodate fluctuations in body shape.
  • Where appropriate, designing garments with detachable parts which can be replaced when they become soiled or worn.
  • Providing styling guidance for the consumer to encourage longer use and potential re-use.


Underwear includes bras, briefs, boxers, vests, slips, shapewear and thermals.

Top 5 tips for underwear:

  • Using more durable fabrics, trims and construction methods.
  • Removing seams where possible, and recognising that comfort is crucially important for prolonged daily wear.
  • Scheduling in time for multiple fittings during the design process to ensure that underwear fits well and supports where necessary.
  • Providing expert advice on fit on product packaging and at point of sale.
  • Designing underwear to be easy to launder.

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  • Design for longevity: Guidance on increasing the active life of clothing

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