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Fashion Goes Circular

Many of us in the sustainability field consider circularity as the best solution to our extreme disposable culture. While disposable habits cross numerous industries, today’s post is about fashion. For years, the only solution to fast fashion was slow fashion: a return to only buying high quality, well-made goods comprised of high-quality materials meant to be purchased and re-worn, mended, and handed down until the garment is no longer usable. But let’s be honest, this probably won’t happen any time soon.

Can We Slow Down?

In a global society where we can’t even agree that the science identifying man-made climate change is real, convincing everyone to collectively agree to change their shopping habits is a long process. One we may never achieve nor have time for. It also replaces old problems with new ones. Canceling fast fashion threatens the jobs created by the fast fashion industry. It also challenges the social equity which affordable, fashion-forward clothing offers lower-income communities.  Even if it is possible, eliminating fast fashion likely isn’t an economically sound option. But things are not all doom and gloom in the fashion economy.

If Not Slower then Circular

In the last few years, advances in textile sciences changed the game. We now can achieve circular fashion by chemically recycling discarded textiles to make brand new ones. Game-changing companies like Evrnu and re:newcell are spinning new fibers from old, and they are not the only ones.

Some of our favorite upcoming brands rely on circularity as part of their business model.

Knickey will take back and appropriately recycle any of your old undies, socks, and bras and give you a free pair for your next order.

ForDays operates a circular t-shirt subscription model. Customers purchase a shirt and, for a small fee, can then swap that shirt for a brand new one when it’s stretched out. ForDays recycles the returned t-shirts into new fibers to make new ForDays t-shirts.

Similarly, Marine Layer will give you a discount on your next purchase for recycling your old t-shirts to be Re-Spun with them.

Girlfriend Collective announced a similar program for their own branded products

and Stella McCartney for Adidas launched a recycled hoodie created in collaboration with Evrnu.

Keep Trying To Reduce

These are huge steps forward for fashion. Each program listed above was announced in the last year with similar programs from other brands on the horizon. While it’s still wildly important for all of us to reduce our consumption and dispose of less, this is a huge step in the right direction of closing the loop in fashion. Keep in mind, recycling is an energy-intensive process, so we still like the idea that things should be worn to death before they are discarded. We recommend giving your clothes extra life before you send them to be recycled.

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