Photo by Joerg Boethling provided by Remei AG.jpg (1)

Can Circular Fashion be the New Fast Fashion?

Circular Fashion: The New Fast Fashion

Before you can understand what a circular economy is you must know what a linear economy promotes- Make, Use, Dispose.

The Global Fashion Agenda reported that, with this linear approach, we’re consuming resources of 1.6 planets and if we continue at this rate we will need 2 planets by 2030. Fashion is a huge contributor to this consumption with fashion & textile products either incinerated or in landfill, in Britain alone a recent study predicted that 235 million items of clothing will end up in landfill unnecessarily in 2017.

While we would encourage the Slow Fashion approach using certified organic materials and natural fibres that minimise the impact on our planet and the people who produce them, we can appreciate that’s no easy ask- easier than requesting another planet though right?

What’s required is a re-invention of the fashion wheel and creating a starting point for the industry, could circularity be that option?


Re-use, upcycle and recycle

The Sustainable Clothing Action Plan (SCAP), Love your Clothes and Global Fashion Agenda all have business models in place to encourage and support retailers and consumers to adopt a circular economy which encourages the re-use, upcycling and recycling of garments.

[This approach would regenerate materials while offering new opportunities for innovative design, increased customer engagement and the capturing of economic value] – Global Fashion Agenda.

Businesses that commit to either SCAP or Global Fashion Agenda pledge to make significant changes to their business models by adopting a re-use, upcycle and recycle approach by 2020. Commitments include:

  • Implementing design strategies to extended clothing life- that could cut up to 3% of their carbon, water and waste impact by making clothes that last just three months longer (SCAP)
  • Create an in-store or online garment collection scheme together with a recognised, credible and licensed charity and or recycling company (GFA)
  • Increasing the use of recycled textile fibres and considered fibre and fabric selection that is key to improving sustainability, reducing carbon, water and waste (SCAP)


Image: PeopleTree example of organic and Fairtrade brand that adopts a circular approach.

The results speak for themselves

Global Fashion agenda reported: ‘64 fashion companies and corporations have signed the commitment. Together they represent 143 brands and a combined value of 7.5% of the global fashion market.’

SCAP reported: ‘So far over 80 organisations across the UK have made a pledge to hit industry-led targets through the SCAP 2020 Commitment’

With increased awareness of the flawed fashion industry we would expect more companies to take commit to these or similar pledges. Soil Association has had great success with the commitment for companies to use sustainable cotton by 2025 and as the Global Fashion Agenda and SCAP commitments evolve we would encourage them to include a commitment to the use of organic materials and natural fibres within the call for circularity- further minimising the impact to people and planet.