How can we make circularity in fashion more accessible to both brands and consumers?

As a proud member of the EU-co-funded CISUTAC project for textile circularity, PCH Innovations used their insight into the current textile value chain to identify a key point of optimisation: zipper repair. A small, ubiquitous component that can render a garment functional or broken, the zipper is often deemed too complex or costly to repair, especially on lower value goods, leading to high instances of waste.

To address this, we set about designing processes and tools to facilitate the quick and easy repair of zippers. The outcome was Rezip: a modular zipper-repair workstation, developed with our partner STAM, that combines smart automation, hand-held tools and an intuitive interface to guide streamlined zipper repairs of apparel and sporting goods in 10 minutes.

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Understanding the problem.

As the production and consumption of textile products continue to grow, so too does their impact on the environment, in large part due to a lack of material repair, reuse and recycling measures. For a component as complex and variable as the zipper, particularly in lower to mid-price-point apparel, up to now, the price and effort of traditional repair often outweighed the value of the product.

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Optimising repair.

In order to increase the feasibility of zipper repair, it was important to adapt not only the tools but the repair approach itself. Where traditional repair requires an opening of the seams, we came to a streamlined methodology that applies the zipper from the above and below. This reduces both the time required to complete a repair and the operational complexity – making it easier for more people to perform the repair.

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The station.

After iterating on the most efficient repair sequences, we then designed a comprehensive work station to accommodate them. Built for modularity, the station consists of 3 primary islands that can be adapted to client-specific contexts and available space.

As well as a built-in automatic zipper identification tool, ultrasonic cutting unit and sewing machines, the station is also equipped with bespoke, ergonomic hand tools, a mobile storage unit and an integrated UI that guides station users through each step of their repair.

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Built to be rebuilt.

As scalability remains a huge barrier to widespread adoption of circular services, it was important to us to focus our solution on convenience, ease of use and an accessible price point.

All tooling was either selected, designed or developed to be easily used, replicated and integrated into existing processes and thereby established as an essential step of the supply chain.

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Guided repair.

A huge aspect of making our station accessible was making the new tools and processes easy to learn. To this end, we developed a digital UI that guides users from the zipper recognition and spare part finding, through to the individual repairs while collecting important product data and documentation for optimising the process further.

Built to accommodate a user base of varying skill levels, the interface provides both a step-by-step guide for the beginner or community user and a freer system for the veteran tailor.

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Key Innovations

/ Color-coded pliers
/ Quick-switch crimping pliers with customized dice sets built on tools by Italian company Motta Design
/ Tape-cutting tool
/ Chain-cutting tool
/ Marking tool

/ Flexible and moveable stock rack
/ Zippers and single components
/ Adjustable table height
/ Ergonomic and adjustable work station features

/ Sewing guide Sew-on-Garment
/ Sewing guide Linear Fold
/ Sewing machine quick-switch mechanism
/ Integrated zipper analysis tool (in collaboration with STAM)
/ Movable press
/ Press quick-switch mechanism
/ Fold-positioning aid for zipper configuration
/ Integrated measuring + sequence labelling

/ Integrated zipper analysis tool (in collaboration with STAM)
/ Flaw collection and zipper repair data
/ Operator guidance

“Each zipper we mend is a stitch in the larger tapestry of circularity and transforms fashion culture into something sustainable and genuinely accessible.”

– Adrien Hobt, Managing Director at PCH

Find out more

As the demand for recycling post-consumer textile waste continues to grow, we see the units becoming increasingly valuable to stakeholders across the textile value chain – from recyclers to collectors and fashion brands looking to galvanize their recycling initiatives. To find out more about our other circular re-manufacturing offerings get in touch with Adrien Hobt.