Impact Hub Westminster & the Circular Economy Club jointly organised the ‘Circular Fashion Workshop: Identifying High-Value Solutions’ on April 19th, 2017 to explore the opportunities of the circular economy applied to the fashion industry. Read all about the key insights below.

The purpose of the workshop:

  • Introduce participants to the Circular Economy
  • Identify how Circular Economy can be applied to the fashion supply chain
  • Understand which ideas are best circular solutions by ranking them in terms of feasibility and marketability

Fashion

SUMMARY OF THE SESSION

1. SOURCING

Mentored by Amanda Johnston is Student Enterprise and Employability (SEE) Academic Coordinator at London College of Fashion, and Katarina Rimarcikova is Senior Lecturer in Fashion, Design, Media and Management for postgraduate courses at London College of Fashion. Overview of discussion points:

  • How can we design out waste using smarter, more novel materials?
  • How could waste from other businesses be used as a raw material?
  • How can products be designed for biodegradability?
  • When it’s not possible to use mono-materials, how can we ensure longevity of the garment?

Solutions that came up:

  • A scanner that can tell you the source of your material. It is important to create a gold standard that is trustworthy and transparent
  • Fully vertical supply chains, traceable materials and using traffic light signalling to inform about materials
  • Transparency: app to scan code on labels – block chain tech to show life cycle
  • Fabric pooling through collaboration
  • Collaborate with science to create material alternatives, examples: leftover shells in the beach for accessories, using mushroom for fibres, fruit leather, cactus fibre (low water consumption), fish nets, Piñatex pineapple leather, corn for jewels non genetically modified
  • Digging into how wool can be done more sustainably and using waste as a resource
  • Linen + hemp is 100% biodegradable and can be refined to imitate other fabrics

 

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2. MANUFACTURING

Mentored by Laura Martinez, researcher on material design. Overview of discussion points:

  • How can we design products that are recyclable?
  • How can we design out waste in the manufacturing process i.e. using 3D printing?
  • What changes in the design process could design out waste?
  • How can we avoid using harmful chemicals and dyes in the manufacturing process?

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Solutions that came up:

  • Making it compulsory for brands to invest in non-polluting technology
  • Material check to verify toxicity of clothes action
  • Community maker labs for garment production
  • Online platform for companies to share resources & waste
  • Gold-standard for non-mixed items
  • Made on Demand products. A Deliveroo (take out delivery service in the UK) app where you can order made-to-measure garments. This solution also needs to include a gold standard on materials

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3. OPERATIONS

Mentored by Gozde Taskin, Founder of Rakha and Circular Fashion London Manager at the Circular Economy Club. Overview of discussion points:

  • What could CO2 emissions be eliminated or reduced?
  • What are distribution alternatives or solutions?
  • How can we make sharing easy?
  • How can circular operations be cost effective?
  • What design changes would help operations have zero impact?

Solutions that came up:

  • Local production and logistics to decrease time of travel
  • Make clothes durable and therefore sharing easier and sharing within the community so that people are closer
  • Reuseability of packaging or dissolvable packaging
  • Better quality for price 2nd hand
  • Using renewable energy
  • Multi-functional multipurpose garments and modular design for re-use
  • Brands can create a platform to help customers re-sell and swap
  • Snapchat for shopping

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4. RETAIL

Mentored by Louanne Steyn, Senior Business Advisor at Advance London. Overview of discussion points:

  • How can retailers make circular fashion affordable?
  • How can retailers make that customer not dispose the product?
  • How can retailers use circularity as a Unique Selling Point?
  • How can retailers communicate circularity effectively?
  • What design changes could be made to facilitate maintenance?
  • How could maintenance improve continued customer engagement?
  • How can we make subscription or rentals cost feasible to companies and cost-effective?

Solutions that came up:

  • Retailers can provide repair/redesign/customization services or have a preloved section in their stores. They need to create an experience for consumers to want to keep their old garment or buy second hand instead of buying new
  • Sizing and quality to increase retention
  • Subscription shoes and more high end quality garments
  • Use big data to understand customer desires better
  • Incentivise returns of used garments and educate and build awareness via tags and QR technology

5. CONSUMER USE AND END OF LIFE

Mentored by Dorte LangeThe Lissome. Overview of discussion points:

  • How to make the customer not dispose the product?
  • How to make resell easier for customers?
  • How would repair be an option for the mass-market consumers?
  • What design changes could be made to facilitate re-use?
  • Could maintenance improve continued customer engagement?

Solutions that came up:

  • Brands can create community events with repair workshops, or online tutorials to illustrate how to repair your broken garment. They can also send out repair kits with mending manuals on demand
  • Platform for renting and swapping baby clothes, subscription
  • Mending clubs for smaller brands
  • New business models. Eg.: leasing of dresses
  • Enhancement and alternation of current garments so they can be worn differently and creating modular garments
  • Garment fun life info on tag/online. Eg.: how it is made, how to care for it, how to repair it, how to dispose of it

Thank you so much to all mentors and participants that made the session possible!

Author: Hella Lynggaard

Photographer: Aya Nouwailati