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Four lessons for the future of circular fashion

The development of circular fashion and closed loop production are hot topics in the area of sustainability. At Drapers Sustainable Fashion 2019, Pauline Op de Beeck, led on sustainable fashion at the Carbon Trust lead a discussion with Lenzing, Asos, Filippa K and Besteller on the developments and potential of the sector. Here are the four key lessons.

1 Awareness is on the increase

Oya Barlas Bingul, business development manager UK and Benelux at Tencel manufacturer Lenzing noted that designers were increasingly interested in, and aware of, the sustainable attributes of their products.

“It’s a systematic process, done in a closed loop production,” she said. “It has always been the case, but people didn’t realise. Designers used to be interested in the qualities of the fabric. Now they are excited about the process and its potential.”

2 Collaborative innovation is key

For Danish brand house Bestseller, collaboration and innovation is key to driving towards a circular economy.

“We’re looking at what we change today and change in the future,” said sustainable materials manager Camilla Skjønning Jørgensen. “We’re working with innovators to create new materials from waste streams in the future. We want to collaborate to create change.”

3 Circular design is becoming a reality

Etailer Asos is embedding circular principles in its design process, as it seeks to shift to a more circular model.

“We were frustrated by our ability to change at pace, and we found that embedding circularity in design was an opportunity to change things from the very beginning, rather than having to alter things later on,” said Tara Luckman, head of sustainable sourcing.

Luckman explained that Asos has partnered with the London College of Fashion to adopt early methodologies of circular design: “We are giving designers the toolkit, but not being prescriptive. We’re making space for the creative process.”

4 Shifting consumer mindsets is a big challenge

“It is hard to shift consumer mindsets and behaviours,” explained Elin Larsson, sustainability director at Swedish womenswear brand Filippa K. “We have to make it really fun and inspirational, and give consumers incentives to try these things.”

She highlights rental, second-hand shopping and borrowing clothes as things that customers are yet to fully adopt: “In the future, I think people will have a small basic wardrobe that will be supplemented by these things. It would be a really fun way to shop and dress, but we need to show the customer that.”

Luckman noted that the appetite for sustainable initiatives was no longer a niche shopper demographic, enabling a wider conversation and greater engagement on questions of sustainability. She also stressed that shoppers needed to be educated through their consumer journeys.


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