Jeans Redesign indicates future of circular fashion

THE Ellen MacArthur Foundation has announced the launch of a new short film called, ‘How can we redesign the future of fashion?’ The film is part of their Fashion Redressed series, presented by Global Fashion Agenda and produced by BBC StoryWorks.

The film follows Jules Lennon, the Foundation’s Fashion Initiative Lead, as she explores how we can redesign the future of the fashion industry. Moving away from a take, make, waste, linear economy and instead, building an industry that designs products to be used more, made to be made again and made from safe and recycled or renewable inputs.

Jeans are iconic but the way they’re made typically causes waste and pollution. Making jeans requires large amounts of resources, such as pesticides, water and energy, and the way they’re constructed (for example, rivets) makes them difficult to remake and recycle after use.

Together – through The Jeans Redesign – brands, mills and manufacturers from high street to luxury retailers have proven that circular design for fashion can become the norm.

Lennon said, “While there are a lot of criteria that organisations all need to meet at the same time, it basically comes down to three things. Firstly, the jeans need to be used more so that we are designing them to last longer to be durable and also kept in use – things like rental, repair, resale. The second thing is that jeans need to be made to be made again, so that they can be disassembled remade and recycled after maximum use. And the third thing is that the jeans need to be made from safe and recycled or renewable inputs, so considering the materials and the components that are used and the way they are constructed, so if anything in the process is hazardous to human health or the environment, it needs to be designed out. What this means is not only redesigning the products of the future, but also the services, supply chains and business models that will deliver those projects and keep them in use.”

In the film, Lennon meets with Primark, to discuss their participation in The Jeans Redesign – delving into how the brand used the project’s guidelines as a moment of acceleration to apply circular economy principles to other garments.

Nick Lambert is the Circular Product Lead for Primark, one of the 100 Jeans Redesign participants. He said, “If we hadn’t got involved, we wouldn’t have had that starting point of what does a more circular product look like. So we created a collection to meet the Jeans Redesign guidelines.

The customers really liked not just the redesign but the products we’ve launched since then under the Circular Product Standard. Where we’ve moved to is 35 options across denim, t-shirts, jackets – that’s what this is all about for us – making sure that we can apply these principles of, for example, recyclability and durability.

The Jeans Redesign was a really useful prototype for us to understand how do we learn from that and grow that into a business. We don’t make clothing in a vacuum – we work with suppliers, we work with manufacturers, we work with fibre providers to make the clothing that you see [in stores]. So we need to work with those guys, take them on the journey, understand their challenges, understand the things that they need to do differently to help us collectively arrive at this point where we have a more circular clothing in our ranges.”

Lennon said, “The entire fashion industry needs to change. It doesn’t matter if you’re high street, luxury or somewhere in between, if you’re part of the problem today, you can and should be part of the solution.

All businesses are encouraged to take additional and more ambitious steps to redesigning products. Then, we must not only redesign the products of the future, but also transform the systems that deliver them and keep them in use.

Lennon concluded, “I’m wearing a pair of Redesign jeans today – they didn’t exist four years ago – we know where solutions exist – we now need to focus on redesigning the system that those products enter.”

Primark’s story is just one illustration of what’s possible and what’s left to do. The path forward is clear – it’s time to step up the pace and scale of progress.

Explore more about a circular economy for fashion and watch the full film on the Ellen MacArthur Foundation website


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