Circularity in fashion

Circularity in the fashion industry is a word that is being heard more regularly. Some might see it as another buzzword when it comes to sustainability, but it indicates a change of mindset for an industry that has such a large environmental impact. 

So what does circulatory in the fashion industry look like? 

The circular economy principle is a new way of thinking to design products so that they can have a second, third, and fourth life. In the fashion industry, it is a movement that aims to reuse and recycle all material, eliminate waste and pollution and to look for ways to regenerate the environment in a circular way - as nature does. 

The Ellen McArthur Foundation has launched the Make Fashion Circular initiative, that is focusing on the principles of: 

  • Developing business models that keep clothing in use.

  • Using renewable and safe materials.

  • Creating solutions that turn used clothes into new clothing.

A great example of a fashion brand  adapting circular principles into the business model is MUD Jeans which is moving towards a circular system of clothing access over ownership. They design sustainable denim, which can be leased and after their usage, it can be sent back for upcycling into vintage or recycling into new jeans, creating a closed-loop system. 

What is the current state of circularity in the fashion industry? 

There are brands such as MUD Jeans showing that circularity is a feasible way of making business. Many brands are living up to their circularity targets that they set for themselves by joining initiatives to include circularity and sustainable actions. According to the new report by the Global Fashion Agenda, roughly a third of brands have missed meeting the goals they set for themselves that ended this year, making it visible that fashion brands are lacking action or support to employ circular initiatives. 

Three years ago, the Fashion Agenda set goals for 2020 focusing on establishing business models and products designed for zero waste, durability, recyclability and reuse. A little more than 10% of the industry signed this Circular Fashion System Commitment. Among the signatories are large groups like Kering, Inditex and PVH. Only 64% of the commitments had been met.

This year, the fashion industry was struggling immensely with the pandemic. Nevertheless meaningful progress is urgent if the industry is to meet global goals to tackle the climate crisis. 

The potential of circularity in fashion 

Increasing circular economy principles within fashion has not only value for the planet and the people but also for the industry. The potential value of fashion’s circular economy could be as much as $5 trillion, according to the Circular Fashion Report 2020-Year Zero. 

This market value is made up of the exciting global fashion industry ($3 trillion), the virtual fitting room market ($6 billion), 3D-printing market ($16 billion) and the eco-fiber market ($40 billion), as well as the second-hand sector with resale and clothing alteration business models. 

What can be said is that the fashion industry is still not living up to its potential when it comes to circularity. There are  opportunities for product reuse and recycling since 87% of clothing ends up in landfills or incinerators. The fashion industry faces more and more pressure to reduce its carbon emissions and waste, with a new generation of conscious consumers. This is an added impetus to the argument for circularity and to make fashion traceable, transparent and more sustainable for people and the planet. 

How does Kleiderly contribute? 

Recycling of already existing resources is an essential part of circularity and creating a more sustainable industry. This is why Kleiderly has made it its mission to reduce the global fashion footprint by recycling clothing waste into new and recyclable plastic alternatives that solve two problems at once: clothing waste and the use of oil-based plastic. 



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