Retailers double down on recyclable fashion initiatives during Covid-19
With the coronavirus pandemic continuing to put the brakes on the fashion industry, a number of retailers are taking the time to re-evaluate their business models in response to increasing consumer demand for more responsible, recyclable products.
According to data analytics firm GlobalData, as fashion retailers seek to recover their positions in the market, many are looking to simplify their raw material supply chains and implement design and manufacturing processes that will allow apparel and footwear to be more easily recycled.
“The Covid-19 crisis has led to the evaluation of business models across the industry amid fresh calls from consumers for fashion firms to do better,” commented GlobalData apparel correspondent Beth Wright in a release.
“Those looking to truly make a change and further the shift from the traditional ‘take-make-waste’ linear model to a more circular system must delve deeper,” she explained. “For a product to be truly circular, it must be able to be broken down at the end of its life cycle, with all fabrics and components suitable for recycling or repurposing into new materials for the next product.”
Among the latest slew of recyclable fashion innovations, GlobalData highlighted German sportswear maker Adidas’ new UltraBoost DNA Loop, a piece of performance footwear developed as part the company’s ongoing “Made to be Remade” project. The shoe is manufactured using a single material type and without glue, meaning that it can be ground down, melted and made into a new shoe.
Elsewhere in Europe, Swedish fast fashion giant H&M has recently launched the first retail model of a garment-to-garment recycling system, entitled Loop, at a store in its home country. The system, which allows store visitors to see their old clothes being transformed into fibers and yarns that will be used to produce new knitwear pieces, was developed by the Hong Kong Research Institute of Textiles and Apparel.
Other retailers are betting on education, with PVH Corp, the New York-based parent company of Calvin Klein and Tommy Hilfiger, highlighting its recently launched “Circularity 101” training program for employees as a key achievement in its latest corporate responsibility report.
London-based e-commerce retailer Asos, on the other hand, has introduced an educational program for its designers in collaboration with the Centre for Sustainable Fashion at the London College of Fashion.
Developed after more than 200 members of the e-tailer’s design team underwent the training, Asos’ debut circular fashion collection was made with a number of core circularity principles in mind. These include a mono-material pledge and a commitment to designing products which can be easily taken apart, both of which facilitate the recycling of pieces once their owners are finished with them.
“These are all positive steps towards meaningful change and the industry must take note of how these players are going beyond launching ‘bring back’ schemes and new sustainability targets,” concluded Wright. “It’s going to take more than that to overthrow the fast fashion monster we have created.”
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