Nordstrom’s Trunk Club personal styling service on Thursday launched a campaign, Caring for Clothing, to help Americans make their favorite apparel last longer.
The campaign is based on a survey finding that Americans toss a minimum of 10 items of clothing each year because they’ve shrunk, faded or are damaged — yet 43% also told Trunk Club that they "rarely or never" read the care instructions, while 21% "rarely if ever" follow the instructions closely when they do, according to a company press release.
Last year the styling service developed a cost-per-wear calculator, predicated on the notion that "the more you wear your clothing, the better the investment," and encouraging patrons to consider "...type, price, and seasonality of your garment to see its real value."
Arguing for quality, investment, value and care, Trunk Club appears to be coaxing Americans away from the throw-away attitude fostered by fast fashion in recent decades. That approach comes with the assumption that trendy pieces will fall out of fashion quickly, eliminating longevity, quality or care from consideration.
Trunk Club’s approach, by contrast, is centered more on a customer’s individual style, and offers higher quality (and more expensive) pieces for sale. Making such items last requires specific laundering and storage techniques that a populace comfortable with discarding their closet’s contents isn’t familiar with.
"We were amazed to learn how much people are over-laundering their garments, especially those made of quality fabrics. We lose an incredible 600 pieces of clothing in our lifetime because we don't properly care for them. When in doubt, always look at the clothing care tag first," Maggie Mee, head of merchandising for Trunk Club.
The campaign could resonate with people who may be shifting from concerns about trends to a search for items that, as popular tidying guru Marie Kondo says, "spark joy." But Americans, perhaps spoiled by fast-fashion’s high-turnover approach, need some lessons on how to make more valuable pieces last. Mee’s team found that 56% undermine the longevity of sweaters by hanging rather them folding them and 29% rarely or never using spot cleaning after spills. Additionally, many consumers, intimidated by tricky care requirements, avoid buying apparel made of fabrics like silk, cashmere, suede, leather and clothing with sequins.
Trunk Club gave Nordstrom some trouble in its early going — in 2017 forcing a $10 million third-quarter net loss (in a period that otherwise saw same-store sales climb) and the departure of Trunk Club founder and chief (also a Bonobos co-founder) Brian Spaly. Nordstrom has moved to evolve Trunk Club's identity to a concierge service after opening its membership to women in 2015 and in 2016 instituting a $25 at-home try-on fee and shortening its return window — policies in stark contrast to Nordstrom signatures like no-minimum free shipping and returns, and no time limits on returns or exchanges. In 2016, Nordstrom also closed down Trunk Club’s large Chicago-based fulfillment center. But its new contra-fast fashion campaign might resonate with customers interested in assembling a high-value apparel collection, with its help.
"When you're building your wardrobe, it's important to think about how you'll take care of those pieces," Mee said. "Understanding the different fabrics and the best ways to clean them can make laundering your clothes a lot easier and will keep your clothing lasting you longer."