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This Jacket Will Last 30 Years — Guaranteed

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This Jacket Will Last 30 Years — Guaranteed

Business

This Jacket Will Last 30 Years — Guaranteed

This Jacket Will Last 30 Years — Guaranteed

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/470314387/470314388" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

British designer Tom Cridland is out to make sustainable clothing that will last a lifetime — he says his jacket will last 30 years. But can he compete with a global addiction to cheap clothing?

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Now we're going to spend a few minutes talking fashion. The week of ready-to-wear shows in Paris just wrapped up. Don't feel bad if you didn't make it, my invitations got lost, too. But if you follow fashion in other ways, then you know that the offerings featured on runways this week will eventually appear in high-end stores at breathtaking prices. Then there is that other trend, so-called fast fashion, which means the most up-to-date styles, affordable, fresh stuff in the stores even every week. But some of these clothes -well, you wear them a few times, give them a wash or two and before you know it, they're falling apart. Well, we've got a couple of stories about two men who are fighting both of these trends - the high prices on the one hand and the here today, gone tomorrow frocks in other - in different ways. We start with Tom Cridland. He is a British designer who has dressed the likes of Leonardo DiCaprio and Hugh Grant. We reached him in London, and I started off asking him about his latest project, something called the 30-year jacket, which he guarantees will last you 30 years.

TOM CRIDLAND: The 30-year jacket is the sequel to a project that I started last year called the 30-year sweatshirt. We're trying to lead an industry trend into protecting our natural resources by making truly durable clothing. We're trying to get people to think about how they consume their fashion, and we are basically just trying to invoke a bygone era when clothing was made with exquisite care.

MARTIN: A couple of things, of course, that occur to me - first of all, why is clothing so fragile? I mean, you buy something and the - you know, the seams are falling apart, the buttons are falling off. Why is that?

CRIDLAND: A lot of the problem is that people place a lot of pressure on themselves to constantly be buying new things. And obviously, people don't want to be spending too much money if they're buying things constantly, so they're buying stuff from fast fashion retailers who make the clothing very cheaply.

MARTIN: And the jacket, the 30-year jacket is currently listed - I was looking on your site - it's £1099, which is what, $258? Do I have that right?

CRIDLAND: I mean, it'd probably a little bit more than that in dollars. I'm not entirely sure on the exchange rate. But it's not - for a jacket, it's not, you know, unheard of, crazy expensive.

MARTIN: Well, I was going to ask - it's interesting that in a way, you're going back to the future because every - you know, clothing used to be made - all of it was custom. Everybody just made their own clothes or they had their clothes made for them. The idea was you'd make something and it would last. That changed, and I'm just wondering why that is and whether you think people are really prepared to go back to the concept of you choose something well, it's made to last, and you keep it.

CRIDLAND: Certainly. I think there are a lot of people who don't care that much about, you know, fashion and catwalks, and people who just want to buy their clothing or they want to look smart. And these are the same people who probably also - you know, they like to plan to not spend too much, and they're happy to just put together something smart. And so they might shop in places that are fast fashion retailers because it's cheaper there and they'll find themselves, without realizing it, replacing their clothing every year or two. And what I'm trying to do is to say that you're buying the same items every couple of years anyway. Why not buy them once? They'll look smarter because they'll be of better quality, and they'll last longer. And that's not going to only, you know, benefit them. It's going to benefit the environment and, of course, it's going to keep independent brands like mine in business.

MARTIN: Tom Cridland is a British designer who builds durable, sustainable clothing. His latest campaign, the 30-year old jacket - the 30-year jacket - is now in Los Angeles and New York. It's a jacket with a 30-year guarantee. And he was kind enough to join us by phone from his workspace in London. Tom Cridland, thanks so much for joining us.

CRIDLAND: Thanks so much. It's been a pleasure.

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