Do you turn old t-shirts into rags to shake off? Do you try to donate or give away clothes that you no longer fit or that you have only used once? You also don’t have prejudices about renting an evening dress or a suit, or even have you already become a fan of the new second-use stores? Congratulations, you are ready to participate in the circular economy of fashion.

 In recent years, the amount of natural and human resources used by the fast fashion industry has increased because of those relatively cheap fashion clothes that are designed to last only one season and then be thrown away.

The large chains in this segment expanded worldwide in the last 20 years, which contributed to an increase in the production of garments, but also led to a greater generation of waste.

According to the study, Circular Business Models, by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, between 2000 and 2015 the production of clothing doubled, while the period of use of a garment before throwing it away fell 36%.

This caused the fashion industry to generate 2.1 billion tonnes of greenhouse gases in 2018, which is 4% of total emissions worldwide.

It is estimated that 70% of gas emissions from the greenhouse effect of the fashion industry come from onshore activities, such as sourcing textiles and clothing preparation and processing, for which new ways are urgently needed to de-link fashion industry revenue from the mass production process and the use of natural resources.

Due to low garment prices and economic losses caused by excess inventory, shortages, and returns, the profit margins of clothing manufacturers decreased an average of 40% from 2016 to 2019.

This situation was exacerbated in 2020 by the pandemic since it highlighted the fragility of fast fashion supply chains since most assembly plants in Asian countries were at low cost and their profits collapsed 90% compared to 2019.

“Circular businesses have the potential to massively become trending, while also providing positive growth and transformation for the fashion industry,” he said. Marilyn Martinez, project manager for the Ellen MacArthur Foundation Fashion Initiative.

The circular economy of fashion includes new business models such as the sale of second-use clothes, rent, repair of clothes, and even the design of digital clothes.

Meanwhile, the department store chain Liverpool has already ventured into the rental of evening and wedding dresses.

During 2020, despite the pandemic, seven second-use clothing and apparel rental companies – Depop, Rent the Runway, The Real Real, Vinted, Poshmark, Vestiaire Collective, and ThredUP – reached valuations of one billion dollars.

In addition, large clothing chains such as H & M, Tommy Hilfiger, Ralph Lauren, and Lacoste, as well as Liverpool, in Mexico, are already testing circular economy strategies.

H & M promotes garment personalization through tips and guides to make clothing wear longer.

The Swedish chain of clothing stores launched the M.I.N.T. Care initiative, which promotes the repair and care of clothes through tutorials for consumers to do at home, with the intention of wearing the clothes for longer.

Digital fashion

The proposal to reduce the use of materials to build a garment already went further by dispensing with the garment itself. Thus, the DressX platform is an online digital clothing store.

Customers send a photo from various angles, their size, weight, and measurements, and the platform configures a garment from various digital fashion designers to suit them.

The purchase of the garment is done digitally, and they receive a photograph of themselves wearing the clothing. The images can be used as many times as you want and are ideal for sharing on social networks such as Instagram or Facebook.