Circular Fashion
eBook - ePub

Circular Fashion

Making the Fashion Industry Sustainable

Peggy Blum

Share book
  1. 176 pages
  2. English
  3. ePUB (mobile friendly)
  4. Available on iOS & Android
eBook - ePub

Circular Fashion

Making the Fashion Industry Sustainable

Peggy Blum

Book details
Book preview
Table of contents

About This Book

Creating sustainable fashion has never been more important. Circular Fashion provides an accessible, practical, and holistic approach to this key topic for anyone studying fashion.This introductory text to sustainability in fashion includes best practice case studies and profiles of key companies such as Patagonia, Veja, Christopher Raeburn, and Stella McCartney. It begins with an overview of the fashion business, tackling the issues of the linear production model of make, use, dispose, before introducing the idea of the circular supply chain. Circular Fashion is the must-have book for fashion students, creatives and anyone passionate about sustainability and fashion.

Frequently asked questions

How do I cancel my subscription?
Simply head over to the account section in settings and click on “Cancel Subscription” - it’s as simple as that. After you cancel, your membership will stay active for the remainder of the time you’ve paid for. Learn more here.
Can/how do I download books?
At the moment all of our mobile-responsive ePub books are available to download via the app. Most of our PDFs are also available to download and we're working on making the final remaining ones downloadable now. Learn more here.
What is the difference between the pricing plans?
Both plans give you full access to the library and all of Perlego’s features. The only differences are the price and subscription period: With the annual plan you’ll save around 30% compared to 12 months on the monthly plan.
What is Perlego?
We are an online textbook subscription service, where you can get access to an entire online library for less than the price of a single book per month. With over 1 million books across 1000+ topics, we’ve got you covered! Learn more here.
Do you support text-to-speech?
Look out for the read-aloud symbol on your next book to see if you can listen to it. The read-aloud tool reads text aloud for you, highlighting the text as it is being read. You can pause it, speed it up and slow it down. Learn more here.
Is Circular Fashion an online PDF/ePUB?
Yes, you can access Circular Fashion by Peggy Blum in PDF and/or ePUB format, as well as other popular books in Design & Fashion Design. We have over one million books available in our catalogue for you to explore.




As we begin to question what kind of fashion industry we aspire to, a new mindset will be the catalyst to create this desirable future. It requires a new way of thinking, a new set of assumptions, methods, or beliefs that foster sustainability as an integral part of the industry’s ethos.


For a moment, imagine a circle. Mathematically, you might be thinking of a round plane whose circumference consists of points at equal distances. Or perhaps you visualize something or someone moving all the way around more than once: for example, “we circled all around the globe—twice.” If you imagined either or both of these, then you imagined the right thing. Circles are models of all possibilities since the circle has no beginning or end.
The circle is a powerful universal symbol that plays an important role in the iconography of several religions. In Buddhism, for instance, circles often form philosophical symbols that correspond with the cyclical nature of birth, life, death, and rebirth, constantly spiraling in a loop. As a wheel turns, the center remains still while everything else moves around it.
Scientists study circles in the form of atoms, molecules, planets, orbits, the sun, and the moon. Artists like Alexander Calder and Wassily Kandinsky have painted circles, while musicians like Joni Mitchell have sung about them. Some psychologists even suggest that we associate shapes with our emotions, and that circles correspond with our happiness.
Most important, many processes in nature are circular, occurring in cycles (from the Greek kyklos for circle or wheel) or parts of cycles which are efficient in the minimization of energy and resource waste. These cycles enable many processes and organisms to be essentially at equilibrium but always changing.
John Baldessari captures circular thinking perfectly in Not Harper’s Bazaar, 2015.


As a perfect circular system, nature is, therefore, an inspiring model for the fashion industry. The four seasons—spring, summer, fall (autumn), and winter—follow each other in a never-ending cycle. Every season is characterized generally by its own distinct amount of light, temperature, and weather patterns. The seasonal cycle also has an enormous influence on the growth of plants and the reproduction of animals. There is no landfill in the natural world. Plants absorb sunlight, animals eat plants and other animals. After dying, both plants and animals decompose into nutrients of biomolecules and minerals, becoming part of the next generation.
Woodland constantly changes over time through a cyclical process called “succession.” Each stage lays the groundwork for the next cycle. The first stage begins with bare soil, perhaps an abandoned field, and the next stages see the trees grow from seed to seedling, then on to maturity and eventually death and decomposition as the forest evolves. If a disturbance occurs such as a fire, the forest recovers from the damage by slowly restoring itself back to its former state.10
Biomimicry is an approach to innovation that seeks sustainable solutions to human challenges by emulating nature’s time-tested patterns and strategies. The goal is to create products, processes, and policies—new ways of living—that are well-adapted to life on earth over the long haul.11 The core idea is that what surrounds us in nature is the secret to human survival. For example, learning from termites how to create sustainable buildings or reimaging forests as factories.
Biomimicry relies on three key principles:
1. Nature as model: Study nature’s models and then emulate these forms, processes, systems, and strategies to solve human problems.
2. Nature as measure: Use an ecological standard to judge the sustainability of our innovations.
3. Nature as mentor: View and value nature based not on what we can extract from the natural world, but on what we can learn from it.12


Fashion is highly dependent on nature’s resources for its existence. Our clothing is produced using fabrics created from plants (cotton, linen, rayon), animals (leather, silk), and petroleum (polyester and acrylic). Farmers plow fields, plant seeds, use water, fertilizer, and pesticides so we can wear our favorite cotton T-shirt. Food is grown to feed the animals that are used to make leather shoes, handbags, and belts. Petroleum is extracted from the earth to produce synthetic fibers, and also to transport materials and clothing to homes and retail stores.
The world’s stock of natural assets, which include not only all living things but also soil, air, and water, is referred to as “natural capital.”13 As human needs expand and consumer demand for clothing increases, pressures mount on both renewable and non-renewable natural capital, and the need to restore and regenerate these resources increases.
To address this need there are two important ways in which circular fashion follows nature’s lead: by being regenerative and restorative. “Regenerative” means to regrow or replace something, and “restorative” to reinstate it to its right place. The choice of material can play an important role in circular fashion, lessening the negative impact on the environment. Regenerative and restorative agriculture practices can also reduce the environmental damage by rebuilding the soil and restoring degraded soil biodiversity. For instance, growing hemp prevents soil erosion, acts as a natural pest and weed repellent, and requires very little water. As a material choice, hemp provides excellent durability and biodegradable properties.


The concept of circular fashion is easily understood by comparing a line and a circle. A line is defined as a straight path that is endless in both directions. Consider the line in a linear fashion system (see page 14). Now, imagine all the resources we use along that line, such as the materials to create the clothing you wear, the packaging and shopping bags to take these items home, and even the remnants you no longer wear in your closet. After some time, and when we have finished with these things, we simply discard them. In other words, we consume, then use these resources up over and over endlessly. These discarded materials pile up and may become waste in landfills or in the natural environment.
Now, consider turning this line into a circle where materials are responsibly sourced, clothes are designed for longevity with the intention that they stay circulated for their full life cycle, and when no longer in use are restored back to the earth, becoming a valuable resource for future products.
“Circular fashion” can be defined as clothes, shoes, or accessories that are designed, sourced, produced, and provided with the intention to be used and circulated responsibly and effectively in society for as long as possible in their most valuable form, and hereafter returned safely to the biosphere when no longer of human use.
Dr. Anna Brismar, 2017, Green Strategy14
Once you understand how each component of the circular fashion model interconnects with natural resources, people, and the planet, while capturing new economic opportunities, you will see how this change from a line to a circle is the most natural fit for our fashion future.


A “circle of responsibility” is the accountability, traceability, and ownership of the entire life cycle of a product—from the seeds and the fibers, design and materials, dyes and finishes, manufacturing and remanufacturing, to the workers in the factories, transportation, and packaging, and how the customer might repair, renew, or resell the product.
A “circular fashion model” conveys a circle of responsibility along its supply chain that is vital for all producers of fashion apparel and accessories. A circle of responsibility unites the whole fashion system with one common goal—designing, producing, and consuming clean, safe, and ethical apparel:


Design is key in the shift to a circular fashion model, which requires greater focus on doing things “right from the start.” Designers need to think of themselves as co-creators of intentionally designed garments made for durability, disassembly, recycling, and biodegradability. A system of design mutuality continuously asks: “What is it that we want to circulate?” and ensures a circle of responsibility prevails around each product. As positive change agents, designers share stories of proof of concept along with trial and error to bring circular design to life.
Proof of concept: the stage during the development of a product when it is established that the product will function as intended.
Collins Dictionary


Human-centric, digitized communities create a circle of responsibility around people and processes. Access to new innovations and technologies that design out waste, increase the share of recycled fibers, reduce water consumption, and eliminate the use of toxic chemicals should be utilized in production. Respectful, safe, and secure work environments, a...

Table of contents