Fashion + The Circular Economy

The Changing Times of the Future Fashion Industry

The future of fashion is circular. It has to be.”

Stella McCartney

What does this mean? Circular fashion is the process of combining both sustainability and circularity. So, with every garment produced, it is made sure to be cyclical. For example, when producing a garment, it starts with the design and how much longevity the garment may have.

When expanding into looking at materials, considering whether they are sustainable or not is an important factor. After this process, it includes the making of the item and factors that are investigated, is whether the production is fair and ethical. Once the final piece is produced and becomes ‘tired’ after some time, rather than being binned, the item should be repaired or redesigned for it to be used again. With this cycle, it means that less will be bought and produced which leads to less ruining our planet. 

The question that you may be thinking is…Why is the fashion industry such an issue for the globe when we have a recycling system in place? Why should we have circular fashion? 

The fashion industry is the hidden darkness of our ecosystem. Garments that are produced are not designed for easy recycling. With garments being worn much less and discarded quicker than ever before, it is becoming a problem. With rapid production, it creates excessive textile waste.

Around 12.8M tons of clothing is sent to landfills annually. The fashion industry is responsible for up to 10% of global CO2 emissions, 20% of the world’s industrial wastewater, 24% of insecticides, and 11% of pesticides used. As the industry of fashion grows, so does the level of pollution.

A family in the western world throws away an average of 30 kg of clothing each year. Only 15% of this is recycled or donated and the rest goes directly towards landfill. Synthetic fibres, such as polyester, are plastic fibres, therefore non-biodegradable and can take up to 200 years to decompose, and they are used in 72% of our clothing.

Making circular fashion a reality!

Many fashion companies and retailers have taken the approach of circular fashion. YOOX NET-A-PORTER GROUP is the world leader in online luxury and fashion. The purpose of their brand is to “connect with people with the joy and luxury that lasts a lifetime and beyond”.

In 2009 on Earth day, YOOX successfully became the first online shop dedicated to sustainability, known as ‘YOOXGYEN’. The philosophy that YOOX created is known as: “Infinity: Lasting Luxury Fashion. Lasting Positive Impact.”

Within this philosophy is the ideology of seeing a future where clothes we love, last longer and even if they fade, they will start a new beginning forming part of a circular fashion system. 

Alongside companies creating ways of giving sustainability within their business, it all starts with the designers. In the past years of fashion, designers released their lines based on seasons. However, as the reality of the climate emergency sets in, designers move away from trends in favour of designing timeless pieces that can serve consumers for years. Due to environmental impact, more consumers and fashion brands are turning to the ideas of “slow fashion” and away from the time-consuming, costly manufacturing process. As a result, more brands are opting for sustainable production and more consumers are choosing conscious brands over fast fashion.

With the new wave of the level of influences in today’s society, the increase of small concepts has become increasingly popular raising awareness and popularity. The championing of second hand, vintage clothing worn by influences are showcased on social media platforms, for example, Instagram has caused people to have different views and appreciation levels for the way in which we view fashion and clothing materials and the impact of the changes they cause to our environment.

Big Instagram influences that focus on sharing their views of sustainability within fashion include ‘ajabarber’. Born in America, living in London, Aja is proving to be an integral part of the sustainability movement within the UK. With 230K followers, fighting for intersectional feminism and inclusivity, she is a voice to be listened to and has moved the minds of so many. Influences are becoming to prove the point that it is more personal and fashionable to mix vintage and second-hand items. 

Don’t add to the pile. Buy less, choose well, make it last and wear clothes that matter!

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