How circular economy principles can be applied to the fashion, apparel and textile industry has been subject to intensified interest worldwide only over the last years. From top-level business leaders to public organizations and NGOs, more and more people have realized the importance and benefits of adopting a more circular mindset. This has led to a growing number of public seminars, academic projects, and even fashion brands being launched with the ambition to explore and support a more circular approach to fashion. This page presents some key actors and projects working in the field of circularity and fashion as of today. Please visit respective website for further information.
Green Strategy is the owner and developer of the website circularfashion.com. As an innovation-driven and research-based consultancy firm, Green Strategy has been exploring and advancing the field of circular fashion since early 2014. Today, Green Strategy holds cutting edge competence in how circular economy principles can be applied to the fashion and apparel industry at strategic and operational level.
The owner of Green Strategy, Anna Brismar (PhD), was one of the first two actors to coin the term “circular fashion” in late spring 2014, almost in parallel to H&M. The term was then used officially at an early project meeting when planning for the event CIRCULAR FASHION – SHOW & TALK 2014. The event, which consisted of a fashion show and two panel debates, was held on September 7 in 2014, with Green Strategy and Cradlenet as hosts. Dr. Brismar was manager and creative developer of the event, and Green Strategy was one of its main sponsors. Cradlenet stood behind the event as initiator and assignor. For more about the event, please visit its official website.
Dr Brismar’s interest in applying circular approaches to the fashion industry started in 2013. In February 2014, she wrote her first article on the subject (A circular approach for the fashion industry). Later in the same year, her article Circular frameworks for sustainable business was published. Since then, more articles have followed. In October 2014, Brismar founded the Circular Fashion Network, and in November 2015, she launched the website circularfashion.com. In February 2017, Green Strategy will release the “Circular Fashion Framework 1.0”. The Framework is based on three main elements: i) the original definition of circular fashion; ii) the key circular fashion principles; ii) and eight categories of circular fashion products and services. In addition, the Framework will contain a large number of goals, sub-goals and measures in the area of sustainability and circularity, as well as a step-by-step approach.
Dr. Brismar works full time as sustainability and circularity consultant towards the fashion, apparel and textile industry through her company Green Strategy. Please visit www.greenstrategy.se to learn more.
The Circular Textiles Program is an initiative that was launched in 2014 by the Circle Economy.
The goal of the Circular Textiles Program is to develop and establish a commercial and scalable model for closing the loop for post-consumer textiles in the EU. To achieve this goal we focus on the active market development of recycled, post-consumer yarns and fabrics, through close collaboration with supply chains of collectors, sorters, recyclers, fabric/ yarn manufacturers, fashion brands and designers. (Circle Economy, 2015)
Read more: The Circular Textiles Program
Fashion Positive is a program launched by the Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute in 2014.
Fashion Positive™ is the first and only comprehensive program that helps fashion brands, designers and suppliers continuously improve how clothes are made—what resources are used, and where it all goes after use in order to make a positive impact on the environment, the economy and society. The program helps fashion businesses look at five categories: material health, material reuse, renewable energy, water stewardship and social fairness. (Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute, 2015)
Read more: Fashion Positive
Textiles Environment Design (TED) is a research project at Chelsea College, University of the Arts London, UK. TED involves a number of researchers and is led by Rebecca Earley, professor of Sustainable Textile and Fashion Design, and director of Textile Futures Research Centre.
Over the last ten years, TED has developed a portfolio of research projects in the area of sustainability and textile design, in which staff and students work collaboratively and on individual practice-based projects. The latest of these projects are “Worn Again: Rethinking Recycled Textiles” and the “MISTRA Future Fashion project“.
A key outcome of TED’s research is the TED’s TEN. These are a set of sustainable design strategies that can assist designers in making products that will have a reduced impact on the environment, through choices of design, material, production, etc.
Read more: TED Research
Re:textile (or “Design for redesign”) is a research project at the Swedish School of Textiles in Borås, Sweden. The aim of the project is to develop new structures for circular processes, in terms of new business opportunities and design processes, in order to reduce natural resource use in the textile industry. The ambition is also to create a “Re:design Factory” in Borås, which will support the industry to transform into a more circular one.
The project builds on a research study performed by the Swedish School of Textiles, assigned by the region “Västra Götaland” in Sweden. The purpose of the study was to assess the potential for upcycling (or redesign) within the textile industry at industrial scale. Questions posed included “Are there enough flows of textiles in Sweden to make large-scale upcycling practically possible?” and “Can this be made commercial?”, and “Are there market potentials?”. The answers were yes! (See the Swedish report here.)
Read more: The Re:textile project
Dr. Kate Goldsworthy is a senior research fellow of the Textiles Environment Design (TED) program at Chelsea University, and a lead researcher at the Textile Futures Research Centre.
“With over 15 years of experience as a textile designer, consultant and academic, her core interests are design for cyclability, new finishing and production technologies and material innovation.” — “Since 1998 Kate has been developing strategies for reducing textile waste and environmental impacts through design-led research.” (Source)
Read more: Kate Goldsworthy
Dr. Kirsi Niinimaki is an associate professor in Fashion Research at Aalto University, School of Arts, Design and Architecture, Finland. In 2011, she completed her doctoral dissertation (“From disposable to sustainable: The Complex Interplay between Design and Consumption of Textiles and Clothing”).
Her main research interest is how to create a more holistic and future-oriented perspective on sustainable design and consumption. She is also interested in exploring how the fashion industry can renew its business thinking by combining sustainable design practices with new circular business models (such as Product-Service System). She has published several research articles, for example in Design Journal, Journal of Cleaner Production and Journal of Sustainable development. (Source) She is also a team leader for the Fashion/Textiles Futures research group.
Read more: Fashion/Textile FUTURES, Aalto University
Through the joint project “Close the Loop”, Plan C and Flanders Fashion Institute (FFI) have developed a holistic tool to guide fashion entrepreneurs through the basics of a sustainable way of working. “With this online platform we want to encourage the industry to steer clear of a linear system (take-make-waste) and to embrace a more circular approach instead (with a focus on durability and avoiding waste).” (Source)
The online platform contains a visual tool illustrating each phase of a garment’s life cycle. For each phase, five strategies have been defined that can contribute to a more circular fashion industry. (The entrepreneur is encouraged to adopt those strategies that are workable and relevant for his/her business). The tool also offers practical tips that are linked to other platforms, existing research and key organizations.
To accelerate the shift to a circular economy, companies and other actors are encouraged to adopt various strategies and to take action. As a fashion entrepreneur you have the chance to make a difference and to affect the lifecycle of a garment.
Read more: Close the Loop