Fashion has finally caught up with the rest of the world, and sustainability is now a big part of the industry. While customers have realised that looking good doesn’t have to destroy the planet, brands and designers are upping their game.
Enter circular fashion. The term has been bandied about for a while, but do we actually know what it really means? Fear not, we’ve done all the legwork to tell you everything you need to know about circular fashion.
What is circular fashion?
Stella McCartney told Harper’s Bazaar: “The future of fashion is circular. It has to be.” Which is all good and well, but isn’t fashion kind of linear? Everything is done as quickly as possible to maximise profit: garments are designed, made, bought, worn, and thrown out.
Circular fashion tries to address the endless consumption drive and be more sustainable. It’s about making every step of a garment’s life more cyclical, or sustainable. Longevity, timelessness, fair production, animal and workers’ rights are all looked at. And once the consumer – that’s us! – is done with their garment? Well, circular fashion tries to have a solution for end-of-life fashion too. From repaired to up-cycled, swapped, or sold on a second-hand app, the goal is for fashion and textiles to stay away from our bins and the overflowing landfills of the world.
Let’s start from the start. What are our clothes made of? There’s a lot of talk of plastic in everything we wear at the moment. But that’s not all. Designers using sustainable materials don’t have to only use “all-natural” fabrics. Deadstock fabrics are the true circular fashion heroes.
It’s sustainable, it keeps fabric out of the landfill, and yes, it’s also great to keep costs down for younger brands.
One great example is Nona Source. It sells designer deadstock fabric and is backed by LVMH – yes, THE LVMH. Nona Source gives creatives an opportunity to access “high-end circular materials” from some of the top luxury labels.
Participating in circular fashion
Unless you’re a creative yourself, it can be hard to know how to participate in this new, better way to love and buy fashion. But it doesn’t have to be complicated. For starters, shop second-hand. It’s so easy these days; you have no excuses not to. It’s cheaper, it’s better for the planet, and it’ll give you access to truly great fashion options you may not find in stores right now.
If you have to buy new, try to be mindful of your choices and buy from brands and designers who have a circular business model. They’ll be grateful for the support, and you’ll feel good about your choices.
Buying with longevity in mind
Quiet luxury lovers at the ready! Buying investment pieces is a great – and easy – way to contribute to the success of circular fashion. Buying timeless styles in quality materials means you’ll keep your garments for longer. It may seem like a bigger investment at first, but how much do you spend on fast fashion you’ll wear once and then bin or forget on a festival field? Unfortunately, when we discard clothes, they end up in landfills, which is a massive problem for the planet.
So, ignore the glittery pink stretchy mini dress with “BITCH” plastered on the front you think you may possibly, one day, wear in an ironic way at a festival. Go and buy the timeless wrap dress you’ve been eyeing for years, and that will literally go with everything you own – and will ever own – forever.
Repair and mend
Moving away from throwing away clothes at the slightest inconvenience means we’ve got to go back to mending and repairing. Forget the old clichés of darning socks – even though you can do that too. Investing in fashion means taking care of the pieces you do have and making sure they have the longest lifespan possible.
Repairing, mending, and giving your slightly damaged clothes a second life is great for the planet and your wallet.
Upcycling also comes into this category. If you really can’t imagine wearing a piece anymore, why not transform it into something new? You can make this as simple or as complicated as you’d like. Whether it’s turning trousers into shorts or unsewing a garment to use the fabric for something completely different, upcycling is the way to go.
If all else fails
We get you. There is a time when you just want to get rid of that jacket that reminds you of your ex, and argh, you don’t want to bin it – because of the environment – but it would be so satisfying. Sell the jacket on second-hand platforms to give it a second life. Bye bad memories and hello a handful of cash.