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Every person in Germany is throwing away 4.7 kilograms worth of clothing every year, bringing Germany to place seven of the 15th greatest textile wasters in Europe. While more and more textile manufacturers are advertising their ecologically fair collections, only ten percent of all textile wastes are actually reused as used clothing. An additional eight percent can be returned to production via recycling. The remaining share, in excess of 80 percent of all garments, is thrown away. This is an unbearable condition in times when sustainability is playing a great role in all of our lives – or should do so in any case.

A company from Düsseldorf has set out to change this. With Repair Rebels, the founders are making a counterstatement to fast fashion. The future belongs to slow fashion and repairs, not only saving favourite garments but also helping the climate.

Who is behind Repair Rebels?

Fashion strongly influences our self-perception and determines how the people around us view us. It reflects the spirit of the times and expresses our society and culture. Dr. Monika Hauck, the head behind Repair Rebels, has come to the same conclusion. Born in Lithuania, she not only grew up in Communism, but also with fashion. She noticed the effects of politics on society, culture, people, and also fashion early on. It is hardly surprising, then, that she joined the fashion industry at only 15 years of age. She worked as a model for six years, at home on the catwalks of this world. Then, something changed.

She wanted to do something different. She wanted to try out things and to get to know the world. She studied business management, focussing on innovation, sustainability, and start-ups. She travelled the world and worked in Silicon Valley. She also returned to her roots. Her doctoral thesis dealt with the subject of open innovation in the fashion industry. She noticed that industry’s lack of collaboration, sustainability, and innovation. This hasn’t changed since. It was time to do something about it, and Düsseldorf and its region have turned out to be a great site for it!

Everything deserves a second chance – including beloved garments

She founded Change Room, an innovation hub focusing on sustainability “Made in Düsseldorf”. Together with her team, she advises and supports start-ups while also remaining in contact with companies, NGOs, and activists, always pursuing the goal of re-designing fashion, moving away from the “shop yourself happy” mindset and towards “Everybody and everything deserves a second chance”.

This is what brought Repair Rebels to life. No one is missing anything by not following the latest (fashion) trends. She links traditional crafts and technology for this, always striving to make things simpler, more comfortable, and more fashionable. The motto here is: “I care, I repair”.

I care, I repair

It’s more than just another company in the fashion industry. It is also a movement, based on a shared mindset. Slow fashion becomes an expression of sustainability, innovation, and emotionality. Co-founder and designer Manou van Dijk summarised this very well in her motto “Don’t put a limit on it and recreate”.

Clothes are more than just objects of daily need after all. They’re also closely linked to feelings. There may be a beautiful evening gown worn at one’s first date or the baggy trousers reflecting a unique feeling of life. It’s all the worse to throw away the beloved garment with all of the memories linked to it just because it seems to be broken.

The two women who are already shaping the fashion industry’s future in Change Room are taking a step towards a more sustainable and more self-determined future with their new start-up.

Repair Rebels is a fashion industry revolution

The subject of digitalisation is particularly important to the founders. It will not leave the fashion industry untouched in the medium and long term either. That’s a good thing, actually. The core of Repair Repels is its easy-to-operate website. Just a few steps will turn your broken favourite piece back into your most frequently worn fashion statement. #LovedClothesLast in just a few minutes:


Place garment in need of repair in the shopping cart

Select all required repairs

Place the order

The best thing is that a courier will collect your clothes from your home or a place of your choice to take them to a tailor or shoemaker. They will be returned within seven to 14 working days. The user’s effort is minimal. All they have to do is pack their things and hold them ready for the courier.

Repair Rebels are focusing on full cost transparency in their process. Are you facing an unusual defect that is not listed or are you unsure if your garment can be repaired at all? That’s no problem either! Simply submit a query through the platform and get your answer and the expected costs speedily.

The team relies on regionality as a great strength. Its local partners are not based on the other side of the country, but have their workshops in and around Düsseldorf, reducing CO2 emissions at transport while lowering costs for the user.

Schaufenster Repair Rebels

Text: Markus Sekulla
Photos: Melanie Osterried, Markus Sekulla
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