What Is Circular Fashion?

If fashion is considered regenerative and restorative, then your favorite clothes will never end up as a waste.

A few years ago, the world of fashion embraced the world “eco-friendly,” “ethical,” and “sustainability.” While it became the newcomer to the block in 2014, the word “circular” awaken the interests of the fashion industry halfway to 2020.

Lacoste, Ganni, Nike VF Corporation, Reformation, and Adidas are a few of the world-renowned fashion brands and retailed to become signatories to the 2020 Circular Fashion System Commitment of Global Fashion Agenda. For such an event, the term “circular fashion” gained more interest, according to Google Trends.

However, what does circular fashion really mean?

Circular Fashion Explained

Circular fashion refers to a system in which the clothing, as well as other personal belongings, are produced using a more considered method. Meaning, the end of its life is as equally important as the production.

Since the system considers both the materials and the production, it gives emphasis to the value of using the product up to the end and repurposes it into something valuable again. It focuses on life cycle and longevity, which includes designing out pollution and waste.

The term “circular” is a response to the former societal and economic models that are considered to be linear and harmful on our planet. As for the ethical and sustainable fashion, this term comes from the intersection and collision of the circular economy.

The evolution and development of the economy and fashion ran parallel to each other. As circular fashion became an essential addition to the sustainable journey and progression of the fashion industry, this new category is expected to bring stronger advocacy and ambition, and ambition to invest in clothing that is known to last longer compared to its fast-fashion options.

Circular Fashion Key Points

If you also want to welcome and embrace circular fashion items, then it’s a nice idea to keep the following key points in mind:

  • Using fewer materials to produce individual items for improving recyclability
  • Returning unavoidable waste materials to nature safely
  • Ensuring use and reuse, including bringing back any recycled material to a good as new condition and collection scheme
  • Removing pollutant materials and non-recyclable materials from the supply chain

No Extraction of New Resources

Primarily, our economies are according to a linear model. This means that the resources are being extracted from our planet. After produced into products, the consumers will just throw it away once they found it useless. Although some of these products can be recycled and reused, still the cycle “take-make-waste” is dominant.

In terms of circular fashion, once the resources are extracted, the products are reused and recycled into raw materials. So, these materials will be used in production without even extracting new resources.

More than Just Focusing on No Waste

Circular fashion does not only focus on no waste. This non-linear approach ensures that the extraction of new resources a well as then production is also renewable and sustainable.

Let’s take Cradle2Cradle certification as a good example. While it offers a standardized material circularity approach, it assesses their products whether or not they have designed suitably. It also ensures that during production, the circular economy is considered by covering the following categories:

  • Social fairness
  • Water stewardship
  • Carbon and renewable energy management
  • Material reutilization
  • Material health

Fashion Industry Embracing Circular System Approach

Little did you know that less than 1% of garments are only recycled into new clothing? Not only that, but about 13 kg of waste is also generated by the fashion industry per person. So, this is why the circular system approach really makes sense.

In order for the fashion industry to completely embrace the circular model and forget about the linear model, addressing the following areas is essential:

  • Sustainable and Circular Design

Other than designing out waste and using raw materials, how products are made, used, and disposes of should also be considered. The use of safe finishes and dyes, easy to remove trims and hardware, and the use of single fibers are some of the design solutions that need to be addressed.

  • Sustainable Production

The use of natural resources is the circular economy’s critical part of approaching fashion. It requires to ensure that raw materials, along with the production, are restored and regenerated instead of causing pollution and harm to our planet. Using fibers from food production, closes manufacturing, organic cotton, and renewable are some of the examples.

  • Longer Use

Creating long lasting accessories, footwear, and clothing should not be enough. Rethinking ownership through reworking, redesigning, sharing, rental, and reselling existing products must be considered as well.

  • Raw Inputs

In keeping the existing footwear and apparel in the “circulation,” whether through recycling, upcycling or resale, the systems and facilities for recycling, reprocessing, and collection still falls far short. Fortunately, new technologies for recycling new garments came into the scene. This includes garments that are made of blends.

  • Taking Back Waste Materials to Nature Easily, Quickly, and Safely

“Compost” and “biodegrade” are terms that are not commonly associated with fashion. However, in terms of circular fashion, these are essential processes. Any waste should return to the soil easily, quickly, and safely once they can no longer be kept in use.

What is the Role of Consumers

In developing and implementing circular fashion, consumers play a huge role. They can be reasoned behind the increased support and demand for more sustainable models. That is especially when more stores offer recycling councils and programs at textile recycling.

Below are some of the key actions that consumers can do to align with circular fashion:

  • Spread the benefits of circular fashion
  • Support ethical and sustainable fashion
  • Revise the wardrobe before getting new garments
  • Shop and use second-hand clothing
  • Rent clothing when attending events
  • Choose to clothe made from more sustainable materials


The transition from a linear system to circular demands for teamwork. Everyone belonging to the fashion industry should work together with high levels of innovation and commitment. After all, the circular system offers an exciting opportunity to reveal the best potential of fashion without harming our planet.