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Big fashion goes circular

It is no news that the fashion industry has historically played its part in damaging the environment but some of the biggest companies are attempting to start writing that wrong by creating circular economies for more environmental outputs. In a generation that is both highly creative and more sustainably-minded trading in and up-cycling are looking to take off.

New innovative platforms have been popping up, educating consumers on the existing problem, and importantly providing helpful tips on how to be a part of the solution. Fixing Fashion is a new, open source platform that exists to teach people how to upcycle clothes instead of adding to landfill. Repair, remake, resize or recolour old garments to fix or make an entirely new seeming combination. The Dutch designer who created the online academy has also created an un-purchasable launch collection of re-loved clothing for the websites launch, illustrating how great the outcomes can look.

Also addressing fabric waste is LVMH. The major fashion house is likely also aware of the 92 billion tonnes of textile waste that are discarded each year and are making a change in order to somewhat ease their own impact. While historically the company which includes brands such as Louis Vuitton, Christian Dior, Fendi, Givenchy, Celine, Loewe, and Marc Jacobs would discard dead stock, letting in pile up in warehouses and eventually even burn or bury the remaining fabrics. Now the fashion giant will sell on unused materials at around 70% of the original wholesale price, through a new online market platform. The deed isn't all pure heart though, the fashion industry spends about $120bn on dead stock so the move is financially smart as well. The brand has confirmed no exclusive branded patterns will be sold on - ensuring there is no devaluing of their items.

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While many brands are starting to get on board more sustainable practises, when it comes to re-homing or re-using apparel, sportswear might sound like one of the trickier categories. In recent months however both Nike and Lululemon have announced their own circular projects.

Nike, (often in hot water around the ethics of their production) have announced 'Nike Refurbished'. This new system encourages shoppers to return their Nike shoes, which will then be altered/repaired to then be sold on for a more affordable price. They will not take back all shoes however, with the three accepted types being 'like new' (worn for a day or two) , 'lightly worn' (used a little longer) or 'cosmetically flawed' (came with a minor flaw of some sort).

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Lululemon have also announced a circular system whereby customers can return lightly used items for resale. The program called 'like new' will similarly sell on clothes at a reduced price. Items will be thoroughly cleaned and any that don't meet standards will be recycled.

These changes reflect a growing trend which has seen the likes of Levi's, Gap, Macy's and Nordstrom set up similar programs, hopefully reflecting a progression that encourages consumers to think about their footprint.

Zara Cooper

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