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Making Fashion the Full Circle

Making Fashion the Full Circle

17 January 2021
Author: Jasmine Waters

A lot of brands and industry professionals have debated and questioned how fashion elevates and rebrands the shopping experience to suit the changing needs of the modern consumer. A popular fringe strategy that looks to be taking the market by the reigns is the adjustment to circular fashion. According to the State of Fashion 2021, three in five consumers now base their purchase decision on how environmentally sustainable the product development is. How could this shift be achieved, and how can small business best utilise predictions?

What is circular fashion?

Even though there is growing business interest in trying to adopt a circular strategy, the dream is a long way off of actually being realised. In a nutshell, value is created through a single garment within a circular system, as it is resold, repaired and recycled before the cycle starts again. Through the pandemic, we’ve seen an increase in pre-loved fashion, with sites such as Depop reporting large year-on-year increases. Despite these promising steps, there could be a number of factors holding progress back. As circular fashion relies on repair to make value, products need to be durable as well as easily recycled – made more difficult when products are damaged or use a mix of materials. The success we’ve already seen works largely at a peer-to-peer level, while brands require more flexibility in logistics which are a greater challenge. On top of these points remains the stigma of ‘recycled’ being a bad thing. We know that consumers will return products with monetary incentive but are not so good at realising the potential of the long-forgotten wardrobe. 

What steps can brands take?

So how can brands work with this? Arguably, small and independent business will have a greater advantage when it comes to reworking in a circular strategy as they have greater agility and possibly a stronger sense of what both their consumers need and how best their manufacturing process can change. That change will need to begin at the basics, with sustainable textiles and materials becoming a baseline requirement. Investing in biodegradable materials, moving towards reductions in product waste while also retraining designers could ensure greater circular innovation and momentum. Designing reverse logistics could also optimise further value, using currently unused retail space as collection points or sorting facilities or eliminating single-use packaging. It’s also important to bear in mind that some consumer demographics may need a longer time to fully commit to sustainable buying, so offering rental options or discounts could provide an extra incentive or creating seasonless collections to be sold alongside resale pieces. It’s increasingly likely that we will see circular modules a lot more frequently in this next decade, especially in a mass-market capacity. In order to make it valuable to everyone a collective push is needed, where consumer and brand work together in a transparent collaborative chain.

Image source: https://www.finchandbeak.com/

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