What is the Make Fashion Circular Initiative?

Editorial TeamEditorial Team
July 16th, 2021
10:37 AM

The Make Fashion Circular Initiative was launched to bring together key players from the entire fashion industry to ignite change in the way garments are produced.

Millions of tonnes of clothes are produced, worn, and thrown away every year, with the equivalent of a rubbish truckload of clothes is dumped in a landfill every second. With the fashion industry being one of the major contributors to microplastics entering our oceans, we must solve the problem by devising new ways to produce garments. Currently, the fashion industry has a linear business model based on taking, making, and wasting. This is a linear approach that is causing irreparable damage to the environment and urgently needs to be addressed. In a 2019 Vogue interview, sustainability activist Ellen MacArthur stated that “fashion’s linear production model is dead”, grabbing the attention of leading fashion companies such as Stella McCartney, Burberry, and PVH. Circularity helps the fashion industry to design garments in a much less wasteful manner. Within a circular model, products are made to be used more, to be made again, and made from recycled or renewable materials. By making fashion go circular, the root causes of global challenges such as pollution, climate change, and biodiversity loss can be tackled. How is Circularity Being Addressed? There are two main ways that circularity is currently being implemented. Firstly, by keeping garments in use and out of landfills for as long as possible. This is being done in various ways, such as brand repair and resale sites from the likes of Patagonia and Eileen Fisher. Secondly, garments are recycled into new fibers to make new products. These products could be turned into new clothes, or they could be downgraded into another textile-based item, for example, upholstery or homeware. However, there are several challenges surrounding fiber-to-fiber recycling. New technologies by companies like the Rubbish Fashion Company are being developed to improve fiber sorting capabilities, but the large-scale investment is still lacking within the industry. Determined to bring about à much-needed change in the fashion industry when it comes to textile waste. The Rubbish Fashion Company is dedicated to creating, sourcing, managing, and tracking the entire supply chain. The company ensures that the impact is controlled at every step of production and that every piece is made as responsibly as possible. The company produces recycled materials for brands and retailers all over the world. There is currently a huge shift taking place within the textile industry to move towards safe materials going back into the circular system. Organizations like Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute and Fashion Positive provide many resources in this area. The Initiative: The Make Fashion Circular Initiative was originally launched in May 2017 as the “Circular Fibers Initiative” at the Copenhagen Fashion Summit. Aiming to bring about a widespread level of collaboration to create a new textiles economy, the initiative brings together brands, cities, philanthropists, NGOs, and innovators. Some of the most renowned names include Burberry Group Plc, Gap Inc, H&M, Nike Inc, Stella McCartney, and HSBC. In 2018, the initiative entered its second phase: Make Fashion Circular, as a means to redesign the model to make circular fashion thrive instead of merely surviving. By radically revamping the operating model, the industry can unlock heaps of potential by transitioning to a circular system. Make Fashion Circular is based on three main principles to boost a more circular and sustainable system:

To develop business models that keep clothes in use for as long as possible. Using renewable materials that are high-quality, and made in a safe and non-toxic way. Turning used garments into new ones via redesign and recycling textile waste into new fibers.

The Benefits With the concept of circular fashion in high demand, there is huge potential for the circular model as opposed to a linear one, where products are made to be discarded. According to a 2020 report outlined by Vogue’s business team, the circular fashion economy could be worth $5 trillion dollars in the years to come, causing many brands to re-think their production processes. Consumers are now more aware of sustainability than ever before, and fashion brands will benefit from making these changes making them transparent. The entire industry is facing pressure from consumers to cut down its waste and carbon emissions. As aforementioned, brands will want to meet this consumer demand in order to have a clean, environmentally positive image for collections.