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3 Reasons We Need a Circular Fashion Industry by RethinkRebels

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The Coronavirus crisis has exposed many flaws in the current fashion industry. We quickly learned of unilateral order cancellations and the ripple effects on supply chains leading to escalating social issues. The fashion industry needs a radical makeover, and a circularity movement has the right tools to make it happen. Find out why a circular fashion approach is the only solution that really works and how brands can do better today.

Reason # 1: Too much waste and too few resources.

Did you know that Europeans consume an average of 26 kg of textiles per person per year? What is even more astounding is that less than 1% of textile waste is recycled into new clothes. This is clearly not a sustainable approach that will last, and the circular economy provides solutions ranging from recycling to renting to simply buying cheaper.

Reason # 2: Unfair practices are everywhere.

Working conditions in garment factories have been under scrutiny for many years, but it still seemed to be a problem far too distant to be resolved. When allegations against Britain’s largest retailer Boohoo surfaced over their unfair treatment of garment workers in their home countries, the true scope of this issue was finally exposed. And this problem does not end there. Let’s not start talking about Amazon and the continued indifference to the dangerous and exhausting conditions in their warehouses.

Reason # 3: Sustainability without inclusion doesn’t make sense.

When the enduring brand Reformation found itself in the spotlight with shocking accusations of racism, many began to wonder what makes a company truly sustainable. It has become clear that the current standard of sustainability is no longer enough and that fashion brands need a holistic approach: to become a force for good that fights injustice on all fronts.

The Reformation slogan of being the second most sustainable option has been questioned.

What should fashion companies do now?

1. Commitment to ethics, inclusiveness and diversity

Sustainability goes hand in hand with ethical behavior: from the proper protection of the workforce, to better compensation systems, to the development of a traceable supply chain. Such a commitment is underscored by an inclusive and diverse approach.

One example of progress is Prada who asked Ava Duvernay to join the Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Board after selling a line of figurines conjuring up racist imagery.

2. Holistic cooperation

When developing your sustainability strategy, work with circular partners, for example non-profit organizations such as the Fair Wear Foundation. Get their input and partner with local initiatives to make an impact where it’s needed most. For example, Lévis paid its suppliers after growing pressure from the Worker Rights Consortium and awarded $ 1 million to meet the needs of workers in the supply communities.

3. Transparent communication

Finally, be trustworthy as a brand by communicating transparently. Be aligned with association members, employees and customers. Get them involved and ask them what they think.

What does the future of fashion look like?

Looking at the current state of fashion, Sanjeev Bahl, founder and CEO of Saitex, notes: The pandemic has forced us all to take a step back and redefine our priorities. One of the key takeaways that has clearly emerged is that a new transparent model that features verified sustainable practices will have an advantage over other traditional business models. It’s a future worth waiting for.


Rethink The Rebels are leading experts on sustainability and circularity in the fashion industry. In September, they will launch an exclusive Rethink Rebels Academy where they will share their insider knowledge and valuable expertise to help you move the fashion industry forward. RethinkRebels offers free places in their sustainability strategy course at RethinkRebels Academy. Win a free masterclass! Click here.

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