Useful French terms to help you with new clothes mending scheme

From October, the government is offering financial help to those who have their clothes repaired rather than throwing them away

A new initiative aims to reduce fast fashion in France
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People in France will soon be able to get financial help towards the cost of mending old clothes.

It is part of a government drive to fight the impact of fast fashion and the energy-intensive clothing industry.

Around 700,000 tonnes of clothing currently ends up in landfill in France every year, according to Bérangère Couillard, France’s junior ecology minister.

The €154 million scheme, set to launch in October, will offer between €6-25 in aid for repairs.

If you plan to take advantage of the scheme, here is some - hopefully - handy vocabulary to help you at the tailors.

Tailleur (tailor)

A good place to start is with the word itself, which is actually very similar to the English.

Tailleur comes from the verb tailler which means to cut fabric.

Similarly, taille means size in terms of clothing, but can also mean height in other contexts.

Couturier (couturier)

Another word that exists in English. The French word to stitch is coudre and couture means fashion. So a couturier can stitch clothes in almost any fashion! Think haute couture!

There is an important distinction between a tailleur and a couturier: A tailleur can taylor-make whole outfits, whereas a couturier will stitch up anything. A couturier is more likely to repair clothes.

Read also: Property, tax, repair bonus: What changes in France in July

Fait sur mesure (made to measure)

If you are looking for something tailormade, watch out for the phrase fait sur mesure - which translates to ‘made to measure’.

Réparer (to repair hard things), Repriser (to repair soft things)

To talk about a pair of shoes, you use réparer.
Whereas for something like socks, on the other hand, you would say il faut repriser ses chaussettes avant la soirée (his socks must be repaired before the party).

La reprise refers to the mended part of the clothing, for example: On peut à peine voir la reprise (you can hardly see the repair).

It also refers to the act of fixing, so une reprise rapide would be a quick repair.

Raccommoder (to mend)

This verb is used to talk about mending clothes: je cherche quelqu’un à raccommoder mes vêtements (I'm looking for someone to mend my clothes).

Faire des retouches à + item of clothing (make alterations to + item of clothing)

If you want something altered, you can ask the tailleur to faire des retouches à the item of clothing you would like altered.

For example, ‘Si c’est possible, pourriez-vous faire des retouches à ma robe avant mardi, s’il vous plaît ? (If possible could you alter my dress before Tuesday, please?)

Read also: Explainer: French insurance’s legal help cover and how it can be used

Fermeture éclair (zip)

Broken zips are one of the most frustrating reasons to have to get rid of a piece of clothing, but also one that can be among the easiest to fix.

In French, a zip is called une fermeture éclair. For example: la fermeture éclair est cassée (the zip is broken).

Along similar lines, un bouton is a button and un fermoir or une boucle is a clasp.

Un accroc (a tear)

Un accroc is a tear in a piece of clothing, while une déchirure is a bigger rip.

For example: Mon nouveau pull a déjà un accroc ! (My new jumper already has a tear/snag)

Des jeans avec des déchirures are ripped jeans, for example.

Refaire le talon (Redo the heel)

Refaire le talon de mes chaussures means to reheel my shoes, for which you can receive a €7 discount from October.


If you want something relined, you can use the verb doubler, or mettre une nouvelle doublure à quelque chose (to put a new lining in something) on un manteau (a coat) for example.

Une remise

This is where the money is! Une remise is a discount, as is une reduction.

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