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Fashion fashion Other

Circular fashion - sustainability is set to become the biggest trend of the century

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by: Ariana M
circular fashion   sustainability is set to become the biggest trend of the century

For centuries, humans have used clothing as a way to express themselves and underline their status in society. Aristocracy was constantly chasing new rare materials, continuing world exploration made exotic fabrics very sought after and when new emerald green arsenic fabric dye was developed in 1814 in Europe for some it became (quite literally) to die for. 

These days fashion became much more attainable. Thanks to the fast fashion trend and clothing giants like Primark, H&M and Zara anyone can look like they stepped right off the runway without spending a fortune. But with clothing prices being so low and fashion changing so often, it can sometimes feel like it is easier to buy a brand new garment rather than fix one that has slight signs of wear.

This current “Take-Make-Dispose” system puts pressure on economies around the world, requires consumption of a very significant amount of already-limited resources and increases pollution.  According to Ellen McArthur Foundation, if nothing changes in the way that the current clothing supply chain system operates then by 2050 our non-renewable resource consumption will increase threefold and our oceans will have a whopping 22 million tons of microfiber added to them over the span of the next 32 years. This is something that neither nature nor economy can sustain and luckily many apparel, shoe and accessories manufacturers are already looking to better the industry.

So what is circular fashion?

Circular fashion is a term that was coined in 2014 and it combines the concepts of circular economy and sustainable fashion. The key principles of circular fashion define a system where wearable items are designed, sourced, produced, used and recycled in such a way that the materials can be reused over and over for production of new items with minimal environmental impact and high degree of social responsibility.  This also means eliminating many toxic materials from our clothing, making sure it will last for a long time and encouraging sharing among multiple users.


Over the past 4 years a lot has been done to being the switch to this more sustainable approach. Many big brands have pledged to increase use of recycled textiles and use more sustainable practices and materials.

Slowing down fast fashion

H&M is a company that is normally seen as one of the biggest names in fast fashion, however they are actually the ones who have been trying to popularize circular fashion – in fact, they might have been the first ones to use the term! They have committed to following sustainable and ethical practices in every step of the apparel creation process and they offer customers incentives such as discounts for bringing in their old clothing to be reused and recycled.

G-Star Raw have also shown their dedication to increasing sustainability and social responsibility throughout their supply chain. They have not only been focusing on their own products, but are collaborating with other companies to help push the industry towards using more environmentally friendly materials and practices. They continue to innovate and one of their most prominent innovations was Bionic Yarn, a comfortable and durable material that is made out of ocean plastic. Not only does this material help find a great use for the plastic that is collected from the ocean, but it also minimizes the release of plastic microfibers back into the oceans.


Another company who is trying to make a change is MudJeans. This is a European company that has pioneered a “Lease a Jeans” business model. It is simple: you pick a pair of jeans, pay a monthly fee for a year and then you can either chose to keep the jeans, send them back to MudJeans or lease another pair. The jeans that are returned to the company get recycled and turned into new pieces of clothing. According to MudJeans, their innovative business model and manufacturing technologies help them cut water usage by 78% per pair compared to average jeans manufacturers.

Recycling symbol from jeans

New professionals to raise the sustainability bar

With such acceleration in adoption of circular fashion, there is a need for more intra- and entrepreneurs who have the skills necessary to build and run businesses with sustainable goals at their core. The Amsterdam Fashion Institute is the first one to offer a Circular Fashion Master’s. According to Leslie Holden, Head of design and of the Master of Fashion Enterprise, this programme is essential to safeguarding the long-term future of the fashion industry. And in the UK the online retail giant Asos has just announced that it will be partnering with London College of Fashion’s Centre for Sustainable Fashion to run a pilot training programme on circular fashion!

The Netherlands is one of the countries that are really set to push the circular fashion movement forward – throughout February and March the first edition of The Circular Fashion Games took place in Eindhoven and Amsterdam. Sponsored by C&A Foundation, this event saw 40 students, scientists, designers and entrepreneurs from different countries present their innovations for the fashion industry, which ranged from new ways to spread awareness of sustainability in fashion to introducing new technologies that would allow use of other materials in textiles. This event helped bring industry leaders together with the new players and from what we’ve heard, one of the winners might be working with G-Star Raw in the future. We are looking forward to the second edition of the Games and are hoping to see it go global!

Do you know of other companies in the fashion industry that are introducing interesting sustainable innovations? What changes would you like to see when it comes to how our clothes are made? Share your thoughts and ideas with us in the comments!

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