Here at The Devout, we regularly mention ‘Circular Fashion’, and it’s become quite the buzzword in conscious fashion. But, what actually is it?
Dr Anna Brismar coined the term in 2014, defining it as “clothes, shoes, or accessories that are designed, sourced, produced, and provided with the intention to be used and circulate 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”.
In other words, every element of the life span of a piece is cyclical- it aims to keep products in use for as long as possible through a variety of channels like renting, resale, repairing and swapping. At the end of the life-cycle, it can then be remade into new resources.
Why does it matter to us if a garment is circular or not? Well, the apparel industry alone generates 10% of the world’s CO2, £140 million worth of wearable clothes are sent to UK landfill every year, and greenhouse gas emissions from textiles production contributes to 1.2 billion tonnes annually– that’s more than all international flights and maritime shipping combined.
If we increase the active use of clothing by just 9 months, we can reduce carbon, water and waste impacts by up to 20-30%. So, think of the impacts of wearing things for an extra 9 years! The best way to do this? By using the 7 Rs. You’ll already know at least some of them- recycle, refuse, reduce, reuse, repair, re-gift and recover, and our favourite 8th R; rent. Renting is of course great for the environment, but that’s not the only action you can and should take. Purchase second-hand or vintage clothes, buy clothes that will last (Think timeless not trendy, quality not quantity), repair the clothes you have, swap clothes with your besties and purchase sustainable materials. No matter what your budget, sustainability is more accessible than you think.
It’s not all on the consumer either, there are many ways that brands themselves can contribute to a circular fashion economy. By choosing an ethical brand over a fast-fashion company, we will help create change by showing the world we won’t put up with unethical brands any more. From ensuring fair and ethical production (Did you know there are currently 260 million child labourers in the world? We can help reduce that.) to choosing easily recyclable materials, there is plenty more that brands can do to genuinely contribute to circular fashion.
So, what better a time to start looking after our planet than now? Demand fair rights for factory workers, choose organic and recycled pieces, fix up the button on those jeans. This is a call to arms to create a real circular fashion economy.