THE MAIN FASHION CHALLENGE OF OUR TIME
Much is heard about the concept of Circular Fashion. But where does this idea come from and what does it mean? Why is the future of the fashion industry?
Before we delve into the meaning of Circular Fashion and why we need a transition to it, let’s start at the beginning and see what its counterpart is:
It seems almost impossible to imagine that we live in a world without textiles or more specifically, without garments, since we are all in contact with them almost all the time. Clothes provide not only protection, but also an expression of individuality, playing an important role in how we perceive ourselves and how we are perceived by others. On the other hand, the textile industry is a key sector in the global economy, providing employment for hundreds of millions of people around the world. But the way the industry has developed so far represents a challenge for the present and the future in terms of sustainability.
Today, the garment supply chain functions in an almost completely linear way; huge amounts of non-renewable resources are extracted to produce garments that are generally worn for a short time and discarded immediately afterwards.
But once we realize this, what can we do?
A Circular Fashion represents supply chains where materials and resources reach their highest utilization and value, making their life cycles longer. In this way, it takes into account the needs of the business, but also the environmental and social costs of producing goods and services. The best part is that it supports the use of renewable resources, uses energy more efficiently and preserves nature. The products and materials themselves are conceived and designed from the beginning to be improved or re-circulated again as many cycles as possible.
Sounds too good to be true right?. Well, believe it or not, it is already happening.
Many designers as Collina Strada (who hand makes each of her design pieces with eco-conscious materials) and numerous big companies as Nike (that launched the Nike Circular Innovation Challenge calling on manufacturers, designers and engineers to help them create solutions that bring us one step closer to a sustainable future), have long been implementing proposals that support sustainability and taking initiative to implement and establish in our lifestyle this fashion movement, because based on facts, there should be no other choice and only those that make it their “core business” will be leaders.
New business models adopting circularity are the only way the fashion industry can continue to meet the demands of its consumers on the one hand and develop as a profitable business on the other. Here's a list curated by Dr. Brismar (head of Green Strategy) of principles to follow for both business and customers to implement the Circular Fashion Model;
- Design with a purpose
- Design for longevity
- Design for resource efficiency
- Design for biodegradability
- Design for recyclability
- Source and produce more locally
- Source and produce without toxicity
- Source and produce with efficiency
- Source and produce with renewables
- Source and produce with good ethics
- Provide services to support long life
- Reuse, recycle or compost all remains
- Collaborate well and widely
- Use, wash and repair with care
- Consider rent, loan, swap, secondhand or redesign instead of buying new
- Buy quality as opposed to quantity
All of these values and principles stimulate innovation and create long-term sustainable growth that supports the development of a healthy and vibrant fashion industry. The transition to a Circular Fashion Model is one, if not THE main fashion challenge of our time.
We will cross our fingers for the fashion industry to finally open up (fully engaged) to fundamental change, moving from being simply conscious to feeling true compassion for the way people, animals and ecosystems are affected along the supply chain. Hopefully, fashion will begin to be driven 'from the heart' rather than simply 'from the mind'.