United Repair Centre is growing, and making the clothing industry more sustainable

News overview

By having your damaged clothes repaired, you extend their lifespan and reduce your carbon footprint. That’s the idea behind the successful United Repair Centre (URC). The URC carries out tens of thousands of high-quality clothing repairs each year for clothing brands such as The North Face, Decathlon and Lululemon. It recently opened a branch in London in addition to its larger branch in Amsterdam.

The power of circularity

Every year, ‘fast fashion’ generates some 92 million kilos of waste. To do something about this, and make clothing repairs hip again, the social enterprise Makers Unite - in which DOEN Participaties invests - opened the URC in 2022 in collaboration with the clothing brand Patagonia and the network organisation the Amsterdam Economic Board. Customers of affiliated clothing brands can have their clothes repaired easily and professionally by signing up through the clothing brand and then sending in their damaged garments. In this way, repair and reuse become part of the brands' business models.

Towards 300,000 clothing repairs a year

The move to a former school building in Amsterdam-West in mid-2023 has meant that many more clothing repairs can now be done per year. This is a major step towards the goal of achieving 300,000 clothing repairs a year by 2028 and becoming the largest clothing repairer in Europe. Thami Schweichler, co-founder of the United Repair Centre: "Within five years, the URC will contribute around €4.5 million to the Dutch economy. And with all the repairs, we will rescue almost a million kilos of clothes from the dustbin."

International expansion

The URC's ambition is to have as much of a local presence as possible, which means having branches in different countries. The URC has now expanded internationally with a branch in London. Fashion-Enter, a clothing manufacturing company with high social and environmental standards, has become a partner and welcomed URC London to one of their existing locations. The company trains the team to perform repairs and delivers the technology from the URC platform, making repairs scalable for brands. Paul Kerssens, co-founder of the URC: "With the URC platform, we try to simplify the repair process for brands, consumers and repair centres and thus eliminate all the barriers."

The power of inclusiveness

The URC employs newcomers and people who have difficulties in finding work. At the URC Academy, participants are given the opportunity to follow a six-month course to become tailors specialising in repairs. They are also guaranteed a job with the URC team. In the Netherlands, they work together with the ROC Amsterdam for this training course.

DOEN Participaties invests in Makers Unite thanks to the players of the Postcode Loterij.