A Lesson on Circular Fashion

5 September 2019

This summer, Brits purchased over 50 million outfits that would only be worn once. Once. Uno! Eins! Ett! Un! No matter how many languages I say it in, far too many outfits are being bought to only be worn once.

11.1 million of those single use outfits will be purchased for holidays, 9.9 million for weddings, 7.4 million for festivals and 6.4 million for a barbecue.

I was introduced to circular fashion when listening to the podcast 'Keeping It Candid' by Sophie Milner and Millie Cotton, where they were speaking about HURR Collective, a online fashion rental platform.

The concept of ‘circular fashion’ was first coined by Dr. Anna Brismar and our favourite Swedish store, H&M. Their in-store consumer recycling scheme offers shoppers a £5 voucher in return for handing over clothes to be recycled. H&M started this in around 2014. It is only now, 5 years later that circular fashion is becoming more prominent across the industry with high street stores, high fashion houses and new start ups jumping onto the circular fashion wheel (no pun intended).

Dr. Brismar, identifies circular fashion as the sustainable development of a fashion garment, from design and sourcing, to production, transportation, storage and marketing, right the way through to the end of products life when it is disposed. The Ellen MacArthur Foundation define circular fashion as 'clothes, shoes or accessories that are designed, sourced, produced and provided with the intention to be used, circulated responsibly and effectively in society for as long as possible in their most valuable form, and hereafter return safely to the biosphere when no longer of human use'.

The circular fashion journey promotes the reparation, refurbishment and reuse of clothes via clothes swapping, second hand shopping or renting (a favourite of mine). With each of these methods designed to prolong the length an item can be used for. But most importantly, items that fall under the definition of circular fashion are required to be made in a ethical and environmentally friendly manner to begin with.

“The future of fashion is circular. It has to be,” Stella McCartney

Growing up as a millennial, it’s apparent how easy and accessible it is to consume 'things'. There’s no doubt that fast fashion and the need to always have the newest items have contributed to the alarming facts we’re facing today.

Let's take the following examples. Going out on Friday Night. I’ll pop online and buy a new dress . There’s a hole in my Zara Basic dress, just pop online and buy a new one. Easy. Problem solved with no minimal effort exerted. Would I ever thing about taking out a needle and thread to fix it? Absolutely not. Now and then, I get bored of my outfits and want a complete wardrobe re-fresh. Quite literally out with the old, in with the new. Had I ever thought about taking it to a tailor to redesign it and repair it, rather than whacking it in a black bin liner? Unfortunately, I hadn’t. That being said, the black bin liner was going to the charity shop **gains some brownie points**

How I Am Planning To Practice Circular Fashion: 

  • Purchase clothing that uses natural fibres such as cotton, silk, wool, viscose and wood in their production. These are considered as biological nutrients. 
  • Sustainable clothing comes at a higher price due to the ethical materials and production, but that doesn’t mean you should splash all your cash on a new sustainable wardrobe. The alternatives can be to Up-cycle, Rent or Repair your clothing. Clothes aren’t meant to only be worn once (with the exception of a wedding dress, but even then...) The aim of circular fashion is to maximise product longevity and durability and so many start ups are popping up allowing you to do this super easily by renting items, check out Hirestreet and Hurr
  • In more recent news, Bloomingdale's, Banana Republic & Urban Outfitters are just a few of the retailers rolling out the principles of circular fashion and launching fashion rental platforms. Which is great as it means less clothing is bought, less landfill is occupied and there is a smaller impact to our planet

So, circular fashion? A revolutionary spin on the dying model. I for one am certainly here for going circular. I’m not an Eco-fashion/circular fashion expert but I’m trying to be more of a conscious consumer.

P.S. Apologies for all the funny (not funny) circle puns.

Outfit Details
Dress//Topshop (Now On SALE!!)

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