In the UK, consumers spend £45 billion on clothing and textiles per year¹.
As a result of affordable fashion and reduction in quality, garments have not only reduced their lifecycles but are often discarded before necessary².
With a production of 4% of global carbon emissions and 920,000 tonnes of clothing sent to landfill annually³, the clothing industry is a significant source of environmental concern.
Missfit Creations was created with the core aim of restoring and reworking vintage clothing. The drive of the business is the reduction of the environmental impact of textiles, along with raising awareness for garment waste and encouraging the practice of re-use and repair.
Missfit Creations’ sustainable ethic has enabled the development of a range of recycled and upcycled clothing. Many items are reworked into new designs, with many garments incorporating fabrics from an ample stock collected since the 1980s.
The ‘Mending Cafe’ is another offering of Missfit Creations, introduced to encourage and teach consumers how to mend garments, instead of discarding them. The free workshop enables skill sharing and promotes re-use and repair.
The biggest challenge for Missfit Creations, was the stigma behind using or wearing second-hand clothing. And as clothing is vintage, creating garments in line with current fashion trends can be difficult, therefore resulting in some items being difficult to sell.
There are several platforms on the market today selling second-hand clothing, however these marketplaces are predominantly selling ‘new’ clothing, not vintage. This is where Missfit Creations is unique in its offering, repairing and restoring vintage clothing, reworking items into new designs, to increase the lifecycle of clothes in circulation, and most importantly working to reduce garment waste.
Missfit Creations was established in 2002 by Debbie Murphy in Tamworth, Staffordshire. She provides an alternative to fast fashion by restoring and reworking second-hand and vintage clothing – anything from 1940s de-mob suits to 1970s psychedelia, to the present day.
Debbie’s passion for wearing and collecting vintage garments started in the early 1980s. Debbie started her career in textiles as a dressmaker using traditional tailoring methods and established a niche in the market by creating stage wear for a number of artists and tribute acts.
To further her stock, Debbie purchased a costume hire business and continued to make clothing for entertainers, but began to realise this was generating a lot of waste. A lot of the materials used were expensive fabric, so Debbie wanted to keep these instead of discarding them.
Debbie then made the leap to set up her own business and in 2002 Missfit Creations started. Over time, the clothing collection continued to grow, and Debbie’s focus shifted entirely to Missfit Creations as a brand.
Support from EBRI
Debbie first met the Energy & Bioproducts Research Institute (EBRI), Aston University at a Sustainability West Midlands (SWM) event in Birmingham, and was then invited to attend EBRI’s two-day Sustainability Master Class in Lichfield, Staffordshire.
The Master Class, offered through EBRI’s European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) programme, was devised to help West Midlands businesses address their sustainability, waste and energy goals, and to help them develop low carbon products and services.
Missfit Creations was the first clothing business to take part in an EBRI Master Class, and Debbie found it interesting to learn about other companies and industries and their sustainability ambitions. Before meeting with EBRI and attending the sustainability event, Debbie already had a zero-waste policy in the business but had not realised how much Missfit Creations was currently doing with regards to sustainability and reducing carbon emissions.
Following on from the event, EBRI’s team of scientists offered to help Debbie calculate the carbon emissions saved through her upcycling clothes business and produced a tailored report summarising its findings and recommendations.
Findings and recommendations
EBRI’s consultations and research in the textile industry lifecycle and second-hand market, have offered a number of conclusions and recommendations for Missfit Creations to further reduce waste and carbon emissions, along with identifying current emission savings in the business.
Overall, clothing preservation and extension of use, are the main strategies to reduce waste and the environmental impact derived from the textile industry. Through the secondhand clothing market, the demand on energy and raw materials can be lessened by displacing new garments.
EBRI identified Missfit Creations are potentially saving an average of 2.77 tonnes CO2 equivalent (CO2-eq) with their current apparel, assuming every second-hand item prevents the production of a similar item.
By recirculating vintage clothes, it was estimated that 1.92 tonnes CO2-eq was prevented by diverting clothes from landfill.
Additionally, by outsourcing garments for cleaning services where no tumble dryers are used, Missfit Creations is reducing approximately 1.07 tonnes CO2-eq.
Therefore, the combined total emissions saved is 2.99 tonnes CO2-eq (with a potential of saving further 2.77 tonnes CO2-eq through the sales of their current collection), the equivalent to at least three-semi-detached houses in the UK4.
This saving is significantly higher than the company’s estimated generated emissions (due to home-based work), therefore the overall balance of the reported activities is positive.
The EBRI team also recommended by changing energy suppliers, to a greener renewable energy mix, Missfit Creations could save 40.31 kg CO2-eq/year when using electric appliances. And to further reduce greenhouse gas emissions, EBRI advised the business to increase the use of online platforms, provide low impact packaging and use public transport for local deliveries.
Finally, adopting a take-back clothing scheme incentivised by vouchers or affiliation cards was suggested to encourage customers to participate in the circular economy.
“EBRI are truly experts in their field. They helped me
understand exactly what my business is doing to help
reduce textile waste, which has really helped add value
to the business.”
Founder, Missfit Creations
Due to the nature of upcycling clothes, it can be difficult to calculate specific emissions at each point in the garment’s lifecycle, therefore EBRI’s report focuses on the nature of the textile used, cleaning and drying processes, and recommendations on processes taken by the business and how emissions can be further reduced by adopting new practices.
EBRI’s research highlights every action taken towards the production and recirculation of clothing has an environmental impact. Raising awareness and promoting secondhand clothes over fast-fashion, will ensure the reduction of the textile industries carbon footprint.
Missfit Creations are keen to adopt the recommendations suggested in the report, particularly introducing a take-back scheme, along with reducing the use of electrical appliances in the business (e.g. ironing).
EBRI’s tailored report has enabled Missfit Creations to quantify its carbon saving practices. Debbie is keen to share its sustainability achievements, and a future ambition is to add a label to the garments to share the knowledge, promote the benefits of keeping clothing in circulation, and educate customers on the potential carbon emissions saved from purchasing upcycled clothing. This will act as a selling point, and will add value to the business.
“The team at EBRI have truly been fantastic to work with,
and I’m very keen to maintain a working relationship with
them. Working with EBRI has given me confidence about
what I was doing.”
Founder, Missfit Creations
 P. Reilly, “Trends to Expect from the Textiles Industry in 2022,” Clear currency, 2022.
 Environmental Resources Management, “Streamlined Life Cycle Assessment of Two Marks & Spencer plc Apparel Products”, 2002.
 WRAP. “Retailer clothing take-back guide”, 2021.
 EMSmastery, “What Is 1 Ton of Carbon Dioxide And How It Relates To Daily Life?”, 2022.