Resource Use

Clothing brands commit to ‘The Fashion Remodel’ to develop circular economy

Leading fashion brands join forces with the Ellen MacArthur Foundation to transform the industry by scaling circular business models and decoupling revenue from production.

Circle of clothes to illustrate idea of circular fashionSome of the world's leading fashion brands have committed to exploring ways to make money without making new clothes as part of a new initiative announced today (21 May) by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation at the Global Fashion Summit in Copenhagen. The Fashion ReModel unites a group of leading fashion brands from across high street and high-end names, as well as others in the sector, to develop circular business models.

Arc'teryx, ARKET, COS, H&M Group, Primark, Reformation, WEEKDAY, and Zalando are among the first participants in the demonstration project led by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation. The initiative aims to identify solutions and overcome challenges to begin decoupling revenue from the production of new garments, advancing the long-term journey to make a circular economy for fashion a reality.

Jules Lennon, Fashion Lead at the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, commented on the significance of the project: "Through their participation in The Fashion ReModel, this group of organisations are taking the next step on the road towards a circular economy for fashion. In order to challenge conventional linear models and create a new normal, brands must decouple revenue from production by accelerating efforts to redesign the products of the future, as well as rethinking the services and business models which deliver them to customers and keep them in use."

The Fashion ReModel initiative focuses on scaling circular business models such as rental, resale, repair, and remaking, which are designed to keep products in use. These models have the potential to decouple revenue streams from production and resource use, offering a significant opportunity for new and better growth in the fashion industry. A recent study from the Foundation estimated that circular business models could grow to 23 per cent of the global fashion market by 2030, representing a USD 700 billion opportunity.

Leyla Ertur, Head of Sustainability at the H&M Group, endorsing the project, said: "We're looking forward to working with the Ellen MacArthur Foundation again. The Jeans Redesign pushed us to explore what circular design could mean for our product assortment and now The Fashion ReModel is set to do the same with circular business models. The opportunity presented by decoupling the fashion industry's growth from resource use is huge and this project can help us better understand how to further scale these models."

The Fashion ReModel builds on the success of the Foundation's previous initiative, The Jeans Redesign project (2019-2023), which demonstrated how jeans can be designed and made for a circular economy. More than a third of the participants in The Jeans Redesign reported applying circular design principles to other garments beyond jeans, proving that many circular design solutions are no longer a technical capability question, but a design choice.

However, insights from The Jeans Redesign highlighted the need to go beyond product design to achieve a circular economy in fashion. Lennon explains: "Jeans were always intended to be the start of this journey. By redesigning products so they are fit for a circular economy, we are making progress. But to truly challenge conventional linear models at scale we must go beyond redesigning products. We need to redesign the services, supply chains, and business models that deliver garments and keep them in use. The path forward is clear. It's time to step up the pace and scale of progress."

The Fashion ReModel initiative outlines three key drivers to achieve the vision of a circular economy for fashion: product design, circular business models, and infrastructure. By designing products fit for a circular economy, clothes can be used more, made to be made again, and made from safe, recycled, or renewable inputs. Circular business models, such as rental, repair, resale, and remaking, decouple revenue from the production of new clothes and provide opportunities to keep products in use. Finally, infrastructure needs to operate as a diverse and highly connected network between all actors in the fashion system to keep products and materials at their highest value.

The initiative highlights the multiple opportunities for organisations to generate revenue through keeping products in use, including direct revenue from the four main circular business models, income from circular business model providers or platforms, training or education to empower customers with skills to keep fashion products in use, and coupling circular product design with circular business model offerings.

The Fashion ReModel also aims to show the potential of business models that move beyond physical products, such as digital clothing or services that replace, enhance, and complement customers' fashion needs and aspirations. These models - such as those pioneered by DressX - can significantly increase the environmental opportunities of circular business models by eliminating material waste, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and avoiding the physical transport of clothing.

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