Fashion + The Circular Economy

Can Circular Fashion Help YOU Become More Sustainable This Lockdown?

The facts

The UK is currently in a national lockdown.

Pyjamas have almost become a work uniform for those stuck at home under government guidelines.

Recently, Boris Johnson set out his plan to ease the nation out of lockdown restrictions. Following the Prime Minister’s announcement, reports have shown that fashion companies have received significant sales boosts of up to 75% following the news.

Many are readying themselves for the ‘new normal.’ To re-enter the world again, people are wanting a new wardrobe.

Yet, clothes go in and out of style. We know this. The clothes we purchase for our potential summer of freedom we may not even want next year.

Where do these unwanted clothes go?

“350,000 tonnes, that’s around £140 million worth of used but still wearable clothing goes to landfill in the UK every year.”

“This equates to more than 30% of our unwanted clothing currently going to landfill.”

Clothes Aid

Is it time we start to think more about sustainability when purchasing our outfits for the summer?

Circular fashion could allow for us to do this.

What is circular fashion?

A term coined by Dr Anna Brismar in 2014, ‘circular fashion’ is based on the main principles of the circular economy and sustainability.

“‘Circular fashion’ can be defined as clothes, shoes or accessories that are designed, sourced, produced and provided with the intention to be used and circulate responsibly and effectively in society for as long as possible in their most valuable form, and hereafter return safely to the biosphere when no longer of human use.”

Anna Brismar

In short, fashion items should remain sustainable and cyclical in all parts of their journey.

When designing, durability and timelessness are taken into account to ensure garments are not thrown away quickly. Workers who make the items are treated fairly and sustainable materials are used in the item’s production. As well as this, once items are worn they should be repaired, sold, swapped, or donated.

These steps increase the life of the item and ensure items don’t make it to landfill and contribute to the 350,000 tonnes dumped there every year.

Can I be part of circular fashion?

In short, yes!

Lockdown has caused shops up and down the UK to close. Online shopping is currently the only option for buying post-lockdown outfits.

The online world of fast-fashion means you can buy lots of clothes at affordable prices. However, their durability, timelessness, and sustainability are questionable.

Companies like Missguided and Boohoo offer thousands upon thousands of trendy and affordable items to consumers on their website. They are also typically poor quality and can quickly become outdated.

A lot of the items from these companies are not on board with the circular fashion concept. You may want to avoid them if you want to purchase circular fashion items.

Obviously, with circular fashion being something that is completely sustainable, it can be expensive to purchase or become involved with.

There are options though.

How can I be part of circular fashion?

Websites such as Depop and eBay can allow you to purchase second-hand fashion garments at prices similar to fast fashion sites. These clothes are often trendy, whilst also remaining sustainable and cyclical.

You can also try buying investment pieces that can last you a lifetime. A bag made from sustainable materials may set you back more, but will last a lifetime of wear and tear. Clothes you buy from fast fashion websites will probably only last you a couple of years and will most likely end up being thrown out.

“There are lots of ways you can be sustainable without having a big budget.”

“I know everyone says it, but the best way is to start by buying investment pieces over fast fashion.”

Stella McCartney

If purchasing investment pieces is something you just can’t afford at the moment, there are high-street brands now dedicating themselves to increased sustainability.

H&M is just one fashion retailer aiming to do this. According to their website, H&M has committed to using only recycled or sustainable materials by 2030. The store also has a Concious concept collection, where items included are made from at least 50% recycled materials.

Brands like H&M, with commitments to sustainability and circular fashion, may be a good place to start looking for your summer wardrobe.

The future

Circular fashion is the way forward in ensuring fashion items do not end up in landfill. The concept also ensures items get a lifetime of wear and are enjoyed thoroughly.

In a time where we are preparing ourselves to come out of lockdown, maybe it is time we consider that our ‘new normal’ could include an increased commitment to sustainability and circular fashion.

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