Circular Fashion Is Now Gaining Popularity

Faced with the problem of raw material and energy consumption in the fashion industry, the circular economy is an effective way to combat these environmental problems at the present stage. Some of the leading brands in the fashion industry are now adopting this new approach.

Redefinition of New Business Models


As one of the largest sources of pollution on the planet, the fashion industry consumes a lot of raw materials (water, cotton, fossil fuels, etc.), produce many sources of pollution (carbon dioxide, toxic substances, etc.), and generate a huge amount of waste. The problem is that the manufacturing of new products and the elimination by consumers are accelerating and many new products only stay in the store for a few weeks before they are thrown away. In Europe, 2 million tons of clothes are thrown away among which 90% ends up in the garbage disposal centers.


Under the objective of sustainable development, the linear model of production, usage, and disposal no longer meets the needs of the world today where natural resources are running low. In order to overcome the environmental challenges, the fashion industry must redefine its business model.


To this end, the circular economy provides the fashion industry with an opportunity to recycle and reuse the raw materials which in turn reduces the negative impacts on the natural environment. Put it another way, the clothes are used repeatedly until their product life-cycle comes to an end. This is a strategy generated from the reflection upon supply chain, production technology, and product design.


Sustainable Brand Leads the Way in the Fashion Industry


Walking on the path of sustainable development, some of the brands in the fashion industry choose circular methods and are now formulating action plans. Here are some of the most eye-catching examples. In 2014, Pharrell Williams and G-Star RAW transformed ocean plastic into clothes such as jeans, sweaters, T-shirts, etc., all of which were made from the fibers of ocean plastic recycled. Following this action, G-Star RAW announced in the summer of 2016 that it would use renewable polyester instead of regular polyester to make all the clothing.


Founded in 2013, Patagonia, an American company that marketed and sold outdoor clothing, was known as the circular economy pioneer with its slogan of "If it's broke, fix it!". To this end, Patagonia was dedicated to improving the recycling and reuse of its clothing as much as possible to realize this ideal.


For this, Patagonia set aside a budget to repair damaged clothes for its consumer with an average of 45,000 articles repaired each year. When clothes were so old that they were beyond repair, they were returned to the factory where they were broken down and recycled as new fibers to make new products. In 2017, an e-commerce platform was established by Patagonia to sell second-hand clothes and other new products.


Ever since 2013, H&M has launched an old clothes recycling program in its outlets around the world so that any brand of clothes can be brought to H&M and thrown into the recycling bin. As of today, H&M has recovered over 32,000 tons of clothes where clothes in good conditions were sold as second-hand clothes while clothes severely damaged were broken down and recycled as new fibers. In the autumn season of 2016, H&M launched a new series "Close The Loop" that featured denim made from recycled cotton and wool.


By taking into account the objective of sustainable development, H&M launched a global competition "Global Change Award" through H&M Foundation. Innovators from all over the world were welcomed to sign up for the competition as long as they have forward-looking ideas that make fashion more cyclical.


As we can see, Giorgio Armani and Stella McCartney were among the many circular fashion supporters in the fashion industry who chose to take the path of circular economy under the premise of fulfilling their corporate social responsibilities (Corporate Social Responsibility, also referred to as CRS, is a moral or ideological theory that focuses on whether the governments, corporations, institutions, and individuals take the responsibility to contribute to society. The scope was further expanded to include social welfare, environmental protection, employee benefit, product liability, and many other non-financial management elements). Based on the most fundamental requirements for global brand management, they used natural resources, dedicated to environmental protection, and respected their employee as a part of their supply chains and product manufacturing processes. The increasingly po