Fashion Sustainability and the Modern Circular Model

Sustainability is a massive buzz-word right now, and rightfully so. With global protests happening on a daily basis, forcing our national and international leaders to take a good, hard look at global warming and other serious environmental issues, it’s no wonder that consumers are looking for alternative options when it comes to shopping. 

The global apparel market is valued at three trillion dollars and accounts for two percent of the world’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). That dollar amount is shocking, but can you imagine how many pieces of clothing that is? Second to oil, the clothing and textile industry is the largest polluter in the world. Obviously, excessive waste from fashion is a huge problem. The solution? In our opinion, circular fashion is the start to correcting what has become an epidemic. The current model in the fashion industry (especially fast fashion, which we’ll discuss later) is linear and it goes something like this: 

Linear Fashion Model: Take, Manufacture, Distribute, Waste

If we can disrupt the current linear model by adding recycle, repair, rent/lease, second-hand, and share, then we can close the gap between distribution and waste and keep high-quality products in circulation for decades. In a report by Fashion For Good, they state that the “recommerce” of luxury items is one of the most attractive ways of contributing to sustainability. Rescuing high quality clothing from ending up in a landfill and repurposing pieces is one easy way for fashion lovers to invest in the circular fashion movement. 

Circular Business Models: Rental, Rental Subscription, Recommerce
Here is a breakdown of the three CIRCULAR BUSINESS MODELS:

Rental 
One-off rental of a garment for a short term period, with no option for purchase.

Subscription Rental 
Monthly fee paid for access to a certain number of garments that can be exchanged by the consumer, at any time, with the option to purchase at a reduced price.

Recommerce 
The recovery and resale of garments previously sold by the original retailer. 

Just like any other industry, it is important to shift and align ourselves with current technologies and invest in the future. The days of a small brick and mortar boutique being successful without a website or social media is dwindling, but for us, it is so much more than that. It’s about being able to provide amazing, unique, durable, and exquisite pieces to anyone looking to access them. Our commitment to the circular fashion model is to recommerce these long lasting, luxury brands. Recently, one of our clients who travels back and forth from Paris to Winnipeg, brought us a pair of 1950s Chanel shoes that she purchased in Paris 20 years ago. The fact that these shoes have circulated all over the world for 50 years and have not ended up in a landfill is proof that the circular fashion model works. 

Quality over quantity
Another important term to understand when we are talking about fashion sustainability is “fast fashion.” The definition of fast fashion is “inexpensive clothing produced rapidly by mass-market retailers in response to the latest trend.” These types of pieces usually fall under the “wear once” category — you put in the wash twice and then it falls apart. Of course, we aren’t here to boycott the mall, but what we do suggest is quality over quantity. Like your retirement, you can also invest in your clothing. Purchasing a high-quality, well-made piece will not only last for years, but you will also see a return on that investment because once you are “So Over It,” you can consign that piece and make money to re-invest on a new one.

Also consider long-term use over instant gratification when it comes to fashion. We all have those moments when we are standing in our closets thinking “I have nothing to wear.” It’s extremely tempting to run out to the mall and grab an outfit that’s cheap and trendy. Instead, we challenge you to put that money into a special savings account. Maybe label it “Fashion Goals.” Save the cash and invest in a higher quality outfit that won’t completely deteriorate and depreciate in value over time. Shopping cheap and trendy may look great on your Instagram feed, but it doesn’t do the environment any good. 

Recycled Fashion
Being kind to our planet isn't an all or nothing type of deal. Just like any lifestyle makeover, it’s about committing to a gradual change or picking and choosing what YOU feel is most important. No judgement here, doing one good thing is better than nothing at all.

According to World Wear Project, consumers throw away shoes and clothing on an average of 70 pounds per person, annually. When you invest in a piece of luxury clothing, it is much harder to let it go. That’s why consignment shops around the world are making a massive difference in disrupting the linear model, while also making luxury brands more accessible. Our commitment to sustainable fashion is to educate everyone who visits our studio or website on the importance of recycling clothing and the opportunities involved with this forward thinking and important movement. 


Stay tuned to our blog for more upcoming articles on fashion sustainability. And sign up for our emails below to receive a free download on the Top Five Ways to Style Sustainability. 


FURTHER READING & REFERENCES
1. Global fashion industry statistics - International apparel
2. It’s the Second Dirtiest Thing in the World – And You’re Wearing It
3. Making Climate Change Fashionable - The Garment Industry Takes On Global Warming
4. 5 Sustainable Luxury Designers For Eco-Friendly Fashion
5. Driving Circular Business Models in Fashion