Let’s make fashion circular

Clothing like food and shelter is the basic and fundamental requirement of daily life. The textile and apparel sector also holds a major share in the global economy. However, the industry is growing in a linear model and is not sustainably fit for the world. The principles of circular economy need to be applied to this sector. There are three main areas that need attention to achieve the same. These are:

1. Increasing clothing utilisation by implementing new business models.

2. Material and energy input that are clean and renewable

3. Design solution targeted at recycling

The textile and clothing sector is a $1.3 trillion industry. It provides employment to 300 million people across the entire supply chain. According to a report by Ellen Macarthur Foundation, 60 per cent of the textile production consists of apparels. The report suggests that about twice the volume of clothing is produced currently as compared to 15 years ago. Along with this the utilisation of these garments has reduced by 40 per cent. This is due to the growth of fast fashion apparel productions that has shorter lifespan, more number of collections annually and is cheaper.

The report claims that the transition of the textile and apparel industry to a circular economy can bring along an opportunity that be of about $560 billion economic value. This will need new business models and collaboration of all stakeholders in the supply chain.

Secondly, the system should capture the full potential value of clothing during the usage as well as the after-usage phase. In this economy, apparels are used more. Once the usability of the clothing is no longer possible, these should be recycled. This will allow the system to capture the value to the raw materials used at a different level. To make this feature successful, it is important that new designs are made such that they align to the possibility of recycling.

Third, a system such as this, need to run on renewable resources in terms of energy and materials. The usage of renewable energy will reduce the dependence on fuel resources and make the system more sustainable. Along with the recycled inputs, the renewables will ensure that the system uses lesser energy and fewer resources are consumed.

Adoption of new and innovative business models, designing from waste and designs that ensure recyclability will unlock endless opportunities and possibilities in the textile and fashion sector.