How are Brands Contributing to Circular Fashion?
Circular fashion is an approach that brands are being pushed to take to reduce waste and clothing production. 26 kilograms of textiles is consumed per person in Europe annually, and less than 1% of textile waste is recycled into new clothing. As well as the effect that this has on the environment due to greenhouse gases, garment factories is another issue with clothing production. A recent example is the allegations made against Boohoo, where the garment workers for the brand were treated unethically and were working in poor conditions.
Online retailer ASOS launched a 29-piece range called the ‘Circular Collection’ last year which opposed views that suggest circular and sustainable clothes are unfashionable. The collection is made from recycled materials, is designed to enable them to be recycled, and each item is created to be versatile and to be worn in various ways. However, this collection has been scrutinised for not being all that sustainable. Only three principles need to be met to label an item as circular, which is where this can deceive consumers. Despite there being elements of sustainability, the collection is still produced in bulk and is designed based on trends, suggesting to consumers that the products are not intended to last for long.
More recently, ASOS have launched a guidebook along with Centre for Sustainable Fashion (CSF) for students, brands, and designers to educate and inform them on the circular economy and to help them make products that support this. Developed through consultations with CSF, it incorporates input from the Ellen MacArthur Foundation through participation in its Make Fashion Circular Initiative. The guidebook covers 9 circular design strategies of the retailer and how to apply them in practice, including: innovative materials, recycled materials, minimised waste, zero waste, remanufacture, durability, versatility, mono-materiality, and disassembly. Along with this, it includes a technical guide demonstrating a zero-waste process when creating clothing. Asos have taken this action as part of their Integrity Programme in September, with four key goals for 2030: Be Net Zero, Be More Circular, Be Transparent, and Be Diverse.
“Launching this guidebook together with CSF means we can help accelerate the transition to circular design across the entire fashion industry, critical to achieving the sustainability we all want to see. This in-depth, accessible and easy-to-use resource should prove invaluable to other brands, designers and students looking to implement circular design in practice and marks the next step in our journey to Be More Circular through Fashion with Integrity.” – Simon Platts, Responsible Sourcing Director at ASOS.
Whilst the brand is being recognised widely for their efforts to contribute to the sustainable world, there is still concern due to the retailer providing fast fashion. Providing a guide on how to produce circular clothing, despite only releasing a circular collection of 29 pieces, is almost ironic as they sell their own fast fashion merchandise and other fast fashion brands items. Such clothing is toxic to our environment due to the chemical dyes used in the process that pollute our rivers and oceans, making the fashion industry the second biggest polluter of water. It also counts for 10% of global carbon emissions, suggesting that the efforts of ASOS are almost ineffective whilst they are still supporting fast fashion businesses as well as producing their own fast fashion merchandise.
Here at Scarlet Destiny, as a sustainable fashion brand, we are sceptical of the online retailers attempt to contribute to a circular economy due to the damage it has on the environment through their non-circular clothing. We believe there would need to be a more drastic change for ASOS to be positively acknowledged by sustainable consumers as their effect on the environment is too harmful.
What do you think of online retailer ASOS introducing the ASOS Circular Design Guidebook?
Information sourced from: circularonline.co.uk, asos.com, fashion united.uk, climate action.org
Image 1 sourced by Francois Le Nguyen, Unsplash
Image 2 sourced by Dmitriy, Pixabay
Image 3 sourced by Mariusz Prusaczyk, Pixabay