‘Make Fashion Circular’: the project that might redesign the Industry

Fashion Industry heavyweights & stakeholders assemble around the Ellen MacArthur Foundation for a collaborative initiative

in brief

Announced by Dame Ellen MacArthur during the 6th Copenhagen Fashion Summit, Make Fashion Circular’s goal is to drive collaboration between industry heavyweights and other key stakeholders to create a textiles economy fit for the 21st century.

Since its inception in 2009, the Copenhagen Fashion Summit – regularly dubbed the Davos of the fashion industry – has established itself as the world’s leading business event on sustainability in fashion. During the sixth edition of the event, this Wednesday, some of the biggest names in fashion decided to join forces to create a thriving industry based on the principles of a circular economy. An unprecedented collaboration project, announced by Dame Ellen MacArthur herself:

“For the fashion industry to thrive in the future we must replace the take-make-dispose model, which is worn out. We need a circular economy for fashion in which clothes are kept at their highest value and designed from the outset to never end up as waste. By joining forces to Make Fashion Circular we can harness the creativity and innovation that is at the heart of this USD 1.3 trillion industry to create a system that delivers benefits for everyone.” – Ellen MacArthur, founder of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation

Credit: Ellen MacArthur Foundation – Copenhagen Fashion Summit

Make Fashion Circular’s goal is to drive collaboration between industry leaders and other key stakeholders to create a textiles economy fit for the 21st century. First set out in the Foundation’s 2017 report A New Textiles Economy: Redesigning fashion’s future, the Circular Fibres Initiative thus enters its second phase with Make Fashion Circular: a collaborative project created on the belief that to thrive, and not just survive, the fashion industry needs to radically redesign its operating model.

As core partners of Make Fashion Circular, Burberry Group plc, Gap Inc., H&M, HSBC, NIKE Inc., and Stella McCartney, will work with the Foundation to radically redesign the fashion industry. Together they will deliver disruptive solutions needed to meet the changing demands and expectations of society, and address the issues that have seen the fashion industry become one of the most polluting and wasteful operating today. This initiative has also been made possible with the support of C&A Foundation and Walmart Foundation.

“Realising the vision of a circular model for fashion will take true collaboration and bold innovation from all corners of our industry. As a core partner of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s Make Fashion Circular initiative we are proud to champion the conversation about circularity, and encourage others to take the opportunities to rethink their approach for the benefit of the environment, our communities and the global economy.” Pam Batty, Vice President of Corporate Responsibility of Burberry

Credit: Burberry S/S 2018

A further 16 participants including city authorities, philanthropists, NGOs, and innovators have joined the initiative to help drive momentum towards the vision for a circular economy for fashion. They will unite behind three key principles to create a system that delivers benefits for citizens, the environment, and businesses: business models that keep clothes in use, renewable and safe materials, and solutions that turn used clothes into new clothes.

Credit: Ellen MacArthur Foundation

By transitioning to a circular system, the industry can unlock an enormous economic opportunity and foster the emergence of a new textiles economy which would deliver incredible benefits. Indeed, adopting this bold new vision will enable the fashion industry to capture USD 460 billion, currently lost due to the under utilisation of clothes. An additional USD 100 billion from clothing that could be used, but is currently lost to landfill and incineration, can also be captured.

Credit: Ellen MacArthur Foundation

Such an extraordinary move rings like an answer to the many concerns among professionals of the industry, worried to watch bigger players moving pretty carefully (if not slowly) in terms of initiatives, research and development. By gathering so many actors under a single umbrella, it’s a safe bet to think that brands and stakeholders will get closer, improving the common understanding and ultimately partnering and bringing sustainable innovations to life at an important scale.

In the meantime, we wish the project to have a tremendous impact, and bring us all on the path to a more radiant future.

Discover more about the project, by visiting the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s website and downloading the dedicated reports.

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