The wheels of a Circular Economy go round and round – N°5 The fashion industry: making circular the “new look” of fashion

January 20, 2022

Over the past two decades, a concept called ‘fast fashion’ inherently changed the fashion industry. Between 2000 and 2014, clothing production has doubled while 50% of it is discarded within the year. In addition, 73% of our clothes are landfilled and only 1% is recycled into new clothes effectively. The impacts of fast fashion are detrimental to both the environment and society and the industry is in need of a circular makeover.

How can companies in the sector integrate the Circular Economy when their business-model today is based on sales, low prices and a fast turnaround of styles?

Fashion is one of the few sectors for which hard legislation is almost non-existent regarding the Circular Economy. Indeed, awareness of the sector’s environmental impacts are recent and legislation has so far mainly focused on working conditions in the supply chain, especially following the Rana Plaza collapse in 2013 in Bangladesh. The sector must completely rethink its business model in order to drastically reduce its environmental footprint. To do so, Boards of Directors and Executive Management must define a clear strategy and above all review the way clothes are designed, sold and made for last, while managing and strengthening chemical safety.

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