The fashion industry is changing. If you know what's good for ya', you better shape up (there's no better warning than an Olivia Newton John warning).
Circular fashion—also known as flow fashion—is beginning to find its footing in a linear industry. Here's the lowdown on all things circular fashion, from its roots to its future. By the end, you'll be ready to tell the world why flow is the way to go.
The Principles of Flow Fashion: More Than Clothes
Flow fashion aims to transform a wasteful industry into a restorative one, for the planet and the people who live among it.
Here's the Tydløs take of Green Strategy's flow fashion principles:
- Design with a purpose for longevity, resource efficiency, biodegradability & recyclability.
- Source & produce locally with efficiency & good ethics.
- Use services to promote long life, and collaborate whenever possible.
- Use care. Repair clothing. Reuse, recycle or compost when you're done.
- Quality over quantity. Consider alternatives to buying new.
There are two sides to the circular fashion coin, and both are pretty darn noble. Whether you're in it for the planet, the people or even just to keep fashion around as long as possible doesn't matter. What matters is that you dive right in.
The Environmental Side
The Social Justice Side
Our Fave Flow Fashion Renegades
Over here at Tydløs, we love a good fashion montage. But what's even better is a picture of fashion that's sustainable.
Adidas is making strides in the world of sustainability. The Parley Collection uses intercepted ocean plastic to craft performance sneakers and other athletic wear suited for elite athletes. They even went above and beyond, using about 40,000 pounds of plastic waste to make a football field for Miami Edison High School. Their uniform partnerships with major sports teams in the US are about to become a lot eco-friendlier. With a goal to eliminate the use of all virgin polyester by 2024, they sure seem to be on the right track.
What's Chanel doing to boost the world's morale? As it turns out, quite a bit. Just last year, they took a major stake in a Boston-based startup called Evolved by Nature, a sustainable chemistry company with innovation on its mind. This partnership will help Chanel move forth with high-quality materials and ingredients, like liquid silk and other non-toxic alternatives.
Puma has the power to change the game, and they know it. Originally promising to use 50% sustainable materials by 2020, they reached their target goal with two years to spare. Instead of sitting back and relaxing, they upped the ante to a 90% share of more sustainable materials. That's some serious action! Their Corporate Sustainability Steering Committee seems to be on the right route.
More than just an Argentinian region, Patagonia is a clothing empire based around a love of the wild outdoors. To us, it only makes sense that they'd be vanguards for the environment. Hemp, organic cotton and 100% recycled down are just some of the eco-friendly materials they use. They use recycled nylon, polyester and wool, and sustainable innovations like lyocell. At their core, Patagonia designs with durability in mind.
These big names are not the only ones making a change. There are plenty of small, impactful brands who've been rooted in sustainability from the start. Darn Tough is a Vermont-based sock company that guarantees their products for life, no strings attached (yes, they're comfy and as tough as they claim). However, with the market share that those big brands hold, we can't help but celebrate a win for all of fashion.
How Circular Fashion Got Its Start
Back in 2014 (phew...ages ago!), a woman named Anna Brinmar brought the circular fashion name to the stage. Brismar owns Green Strategy, that nifty consultancy company who gave us those key principles. Back then, she brought the phrase to life at a quiet meeting. Soon after, the Circular Fashion - Show & Talk (CFST) 2014 sustainable fashion show took place in Stockholm.
Brinmar was likely inspired by the circular economy, a common phrase that's seen widespread usage since the 1970s.
The team at the Ellen MacArthur Foundation tells us that a circular economy effectively rethinks progress. As a whole, a circular economy touches on every consumer good you buy, including household decor, appliances, phones and so much more. Flow fashion takes the notions granted from a circular economy and niches them down into one very powerful industry.
"If we accept that the living world's cyclical model works, can we change our way of thinking so that we, too, operate a circular economy?"
Brinmar knew that a circular economy would work wonders in the fashion industry. That, friends, is how we got our flow.
7 Forms of Sustainable Fashion
Brismar collaborated with Vestiaire Collective to curate a pie chart of seven equally sustainable modes of fashion. Here's the rundown:
- On Demand & Custom Made - Haute couture to DIY, this one covers all classes. As far as we're concerned, it's bespoke if you say it is!
- Green & Clean - Keep things environmentally friendly and free from toxins, please!
- High Quality & Timeless Design - We've said it before and we'll say it again. Quality over quantity!
- Fair & Ethical - Yes, this means for people and animals.
- Repair, Redesign & Upcycle - It's time to get creative up in here!
- Rent, Lease & Swap - A whole new meaning to alternative fashion.
- Secondhand & Vintage - Because everything comes back around anyway.
With this list in mind, a flow fashion future doesn't seem so hard after all!
Why Design Matters So Much
When it comes to short clothing lifetimes, consumers take some of the responsibility. Clothes that no longer fit, have gone out of style or are worn out make up much of our closets. In fact, more than half of all millennials have this issue. Still, designers have the capacity to change our perception of clothing, but how?
- By making clothing that's more forgiving to slight size changes.
- By designing wear that's naturally alterable or adjustable.
- By prioritizing styles that stay en vogue for longer.
- By making comfortable clothing, which is shown to promote higher emotional attachment and perceived value.
- By making higher quality clothing that lasts longer (avoiding colour loss, shrinking and pilling).
- By using materials that can withstand wear and tear.
- By using recycled or other sustainable materials in the design.
Now, it's still up to manufacturers to ensure ethical working conditions—and it's still up to consumers to actually buy circular apparel—but weaving restorative practices into design sets the stage for flow of the highest degree.
A Chance for Wild Innovation
Staying in your comfort zone is boring. There's only one way to grow and evolve, and that's through innovation. Circular fashion gives the industry a good reason to innovate. By spending time developing systems that make it easy to procure ethical and environmentally friendly clothing, we're making our world a better place.
Through innovative practices and engineering in the fashion industry, businesses have the chance to set themselves up for success. After all, the need for sustainability is only going to get bolder as time goes on. What was once seen as creative will soon become crucial.
The Case for Business Owners
If you're an apparel consumer, opting for sustainable clothing seems like a pretty straightforward task. It's like how you shop at Whole Foods or the local co-op for the best food around. But let's not forget all the work that goes into considering the source of textiles and production.
You know what'll make your life easier? Prompting businesses to take the circular fashion route themselves. The more options you have to choose from, the easier it'll be to maintain the flow. Having a little business savvy to accompany your passion for ethical and sustainable wear will go a long way in making the case for circular fashion. Trust us—we're a business.
Let's Talk Trade
In flow fashion, trade is a whole different realm. Clothing connoisseurs send partially finished products and sorted, reusable textile waste to countries who produce clothing. As for the production countries, negative social impacts should be avoided at all costs. To keep resources down, waste transport should be kept local.
This is the perfect opportunity for business owners to boost the local economy and forge community with those around them. Whether it's businesses in the recycling, textile or manufacturing industries, the chance for collaboration is now.
Incentivising Flow Fashion
Economic incentives are a stellar way to get businesses on the bandwagon. Some examples include procurement and extended producer responsibility. Tax shifts can redirect market demand, making linear products more expensive than their circular counterparts.
How Voluntary Sustainability Helps You Earn Money
Making a commitment to flow is the perfect marketing opportunity for businesses. In the age of eco-awareness, a sustainable stance puts you at an advantage in the minds of consumers.
Also known as green marketing, positioning yourself as a purveyor of fine clothing doing right by the world is invaluable—and its strength will only grow.
Getting the Circular Convo Flowing
Making any sort of change means talking it out. Having a conversation is the start of any movement, big or small. The term "circular fashion" was coined just six years ago, and it's already made major waves.
Vogue Magazine, Stella McCartney, Bustle—these are just some of the names shouting circular fashion on the rooftops (figuratively, duh). Now we're talkin' our butts off and joining the ranks, and we're proud to do so. As a curator of fine apparel and accessories, we believe it's our duty to shed light on environmental issues and support those making change. If that means spreading the convo, so be it.
True Trendsetters Know the Flow
Hey jetsetters, fashion moguls and streetwear superstars! You know all too well the perks of standing out from the pack. With flow fashion on your mind, you'll be dressing finer than royalty.
Finding your place in fashion isn't easy, but with circular fashion to guide you, you'll be a VIP in no time.