Circular Fashion

We’re driving the transition to circular fashion by nurturing and scaling solutions

It is time to rethink apparel and move towards a new kind of industry. One that uses and reuses safe materials. One that restores and regenerates ecosystems. One that provides dignified work for people making products that are “made to be made again". This is the philosophy of a circular economy. For the fashion industry to become circular, each part of the business model must change. Every actor has a role to play. We are here to support this transition by nurturing and scaling innovative solutions that can change the way our clothes are made, used, and reused.

The problem

The apparel industry is beset by major environmental challenges. Too often unregulated, hazardous chemicals are used and subsequently released into our environment, causing harm to ecosystems and people. Little is being done to conserve and protect water, our most precious resource. Factories are commonly powered by fossil-fuel sources. And an overwhelming volume of fibre, the sector's most valuable raw material, is sent to landfill or incinerated after its use as garments. Despite the shared concern about these issues, the industry has been slow to change. We lack a shared vision, aligned incentives and the technical solutions and new business models needed to address this.

The opportunity

Circular economy thinking is redesigning the apparel industry to make it work for the people and ecosystems it touches. It challenges the industry on its material choices, chemical choices, manufacturing choices, and retail and use choices. A system in which safe materials are used endlessly, water is restored and energy is clean, allows the apparel sector to be a force for good.

C&A Foundation will accelerate this new system by enabling best practice today and supporting the innovation of tomorrow.

Best practice – Creating the conditions

Hazardous chemicals and water pollution are critical roadblocks to circular apparel and are high on the industry's agenda. Major players are coming together through collaborative initiatives such as Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals.

We support such collaboration and are working with several industry platforms to accelerate their work and lay the foundations for circular business models.

Innovation – Building the new

There is no shortage of innovation in this industry, from waterless dyeing to chemical recycling. Yet many of these solutions are not being embedded into supply chains. We believe that more needs to be done to support late-stage innovators and scale up their new technologies and business models.

With other core founding partners, we are creating an initiative to support innovative circular business models, while bringing brands, retailers, manufacturers, multi-stakeholder initiatives, and investors together to work towards a shared vision for the future of apparel. This global partnership is called Fashion for Good and has launched in March 2017.

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