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How Can Designers & Consumers Contribute to Circular Fashion?

by Vivify Sales on February 22, 2022

-By Thomas Monahan-Herzog  

I get it, you're at home on a lazy Sunday, looking through your wardrobe and deciding it's time for a fresh start. That neglected skirt that doesn’t fit your style, those jeans that looks so last season and the favorite shirt you’ve worn 1000 times and now no longer want to think about or its so worn out you think nobody would want it. While the easy solution is to bag the clothes and dispose of them, is this really the most productive way towards disposing your unwanted clothes? Currently 73% of the worlds clothing ends up in landfill, with only 12% of the materials used for clothing is recycled, globally! If that isn’t shocking enough, textiles make up nearly 5% of all landfill waste  accumulated, causing serious harm to the environment and planet collectively.  And the crazy thing is, more than 50% of fast fashion produce is disposed of in under 1 year!  That is a lot of fabric and textiles that could have been put to better use. 

The fashion industry is over produced by 30-40% each year, contributing to roughly 10% of Global Carbon  emissions in relation to water and plastic pollution, with 30% of clothes  not even being sold or are sold on sale. Moreover, many of the clothes we wear and own are a contributor towards microplastics pollution which is a direct threat to marine life and the ocean. Scientists have found that 10m tonnes of plastic waste enters the worlds oceans with 99% congregating into the deep ocean . This hyperactive supply chain of overproduced clothes not only leaves a massive hole in our ecosystem, but economically speaking $USD60 Billion of value towards us, the consumer, by throwing away clothes that can be reused, in some cases, just after 7-10 uses.  So, where does this leave us? How can designers and consumers contribute to the circular fashion economy and adopt a more slow fashion approach? 

Our last blog post looked into the 3 R’s (Rethink, Redesign and Repair), highlighting how important upcycling your unwanted garments is towards the push for a more circular economy.  Circular textiles is a closed loop form of recycling that aims to limit extractive production of virgin raw materials and decrease textile waste, with 60% of firms have already invested or are beginning to invest into close-loop recycling.  Companies like Vivify Textiles and its sister company PHOENXT, are examples of how restoring and regenerating materials can look like in a more industrial and technical manner, rethinking the ways in manufacturing and disrupting supply chains in a meaningful manner. While the 3 R’s can achieve a severe reduction in textile waste, it is ultimately up to You to decide on how, where and when you throw away your unwanted garments, and Vivify Textiles is here to help highlight and establish a more circular way in the disposal of your clothes. 

Section 1: What consumers can do 

The concept behind the circular fashion is aimed at replacing the linear model to one where we regenerate and revitalise our textile by effectively utilising the resources and ecosystem around us and recycling as much as we can. It's not easy to reshape a trillion dollar industry, but lucky for you, there are more fun and sustainable ways to give new life to your clothes that aim at alleviating 

  • Swap out clothes, doesn’t cost anything and helps the planet! 

  • Yes, clothing swapping can be an enjoyable and fun method of recycling, where you don't even pay a single cent, keep clothes out of landfill and explore new styles without breaking the bank. Designers, like Patrick Duffy from GFX and companies, like The Fashion Pulpit, have been making clothing swaps possible for quite a while now.  An interview done by Eco-Age   with Patrick Duffy, provides insight on how you can create your very own interactive event with your friends or wider community that recycles and stops fast fashion by; 

    Step 1 

    Gather your friends, start swapping amongst yourselves before establishing an event. Then start planning the event, e.g. who will line up the guest, who will manage the swap, who will sort the items etc etc 

    Step 2 

    Pick a location, where it's public, popular and allows for your creative flair to shine and provide equipment if possible. Cafes and offices maybe good places to start

    Step 3

    Set the date and invite people to your event

    Step 4 


    Plan the event, make it engaging and fun and set up textile recycling companies to help in the event 

    Step 5 

    Have the event and enjoy your pick and swap exchange. 

  • Resale, Rentals and Subscriptions  

  • Another underrated and vastly popular method is to resell your clothes. In the next 5 years, the second-hand market is expected to grow to $77BnMoreover, that is a reduction of 79% in CO2 emissions   from just 1 resold dress, amazing! It is a great way to make some money and re-home a perfectly acceptable item that can be loved all over again. Alternatively, if you requiren the next 5 years, the second-hand market is expected to grow to $77Bn  clothing for a special occasion, like a cocktail dinner, job interview or fashion event, give clothing rentals or subscriptions a try. Companies like Rent The Runway make it possible for you to rent new outfits and items that otherwise may end up as an expensive and wasteful exercise for you, by allowing trendy clothing items to be worn while reducing landfill and manufacturing processes, a double win for everyone. 

  • Donate them to recycling movements 

  • The next best thing to do is donate your clothes. Depending on where you are, more companies are popping up that make it more accessible for you to reduce your waste. Circular Center can take up to 120kg of unwearable textiles, like clothes, bedding and uniforms, and repurpose them, recently partnering with General Pants and starting the circular denim redesign project. The other options are to donate your items to local churches, organisation like ThreadUp or the  Salvation Army  and not-for-profit organisations are just some of the many ways to mindfully dispose of your clothes.  

  • Conscious shopping routines 

  • By now, there is a certain pattern and trend that has commonly popped up through this blog that is centered around the ways of adopting a more circular method when clothes shopping. While it may not be an easy task, there are more conscious ways for you to adopt other methods of circularity if you are into attaining new products.  If you are interested in buying new clothes, then always look towards seconhand shops or consider the true cost behind that higher price tag for new t-shirts compared to Target or Kmart. The extra money you spend goes towards higher quality manufacturing processes. Breaking down the steps, from the cotton picking or textile recycling, spinning and weaving, manufacturing the garment, logistics and delivery can make for a more sustainable product.  By investing into a sustainable T-shirt, you are saying that everyone on the supply chain line deserves to be paid for the work they did.  Good On You is a trusted source for sustainable ratings that makes it easy for you to understand the entire process behind the production of your clothes while rating these brands/products from its ethics to its sustainability, making for a more streamlined process in the shopping experience by identifying the quality, materials, working conditions  and labeling involved. That way, slow fashion and circularity can be adopted into your shopping routine. 

    Section 2: What designers can do 

  • Pre-consumer waste, Consumer waste & post-consumer waste

  • With an industry that currently relies on 97% of virgin resources  to produce the raw materials used in everyday clothes, makes for a challenging task for upcoming designers to establish a chain of sustainability within their brands.  With that said, the fashion industry is looking at ways that implement strategies to ensure circularity is kept in mind and makes for an easier transition into a more circular and sustainable model.  This model focuses on the various waste stages that designers and brands are faced with constantly, with the most common being mixed and blended fabrics, like cotton-polyester, preventing recyclability and highlights how you can make a difference before you start your various projects. 

    Pre-Cosnumer waste 

    • The raw materials chosen by you are the first point of contact. Lucky for you, companies like Vivify Textiles, and other ranges of ethical fabrics are out there to integrate into your designs. 
    • Get in contact with your local recycling companies to see if your designs will have the option to be recycled at the post-consumer waste stage 
    • Look at various brands that may have lots of fabric off-cuts, or online, and start thinking of using what may already be available. The rise in deadstocking, e.g. using materials that would otherwise go to waste, is taking off and a great way to adopt more slow fashion practices. 

    Consumer waste 

    • Education and transparency are the biggest things consumers are looking for in brands today. Telling a story behind the production process can build trust and formulate a bond. H&M are using technologies, like block chain, to show the various steps your garments goes through in the supply chain. 
    • But depending on your status, labeling, packaging and showing your progress on social media are nice alternatives as well 

    Post-Consumer waste

    • Like what was mentioned before, donating or reselling stock that isn't sold would be a great way to help in the battle of circularity 
    • Make a program or initiative that encourages consumers to recycle textiles. Ellen Fischers renew program allows consumers to get a $5 voucher for every item returned, being resold at a reduced price. 
    • If you are looking for industrial level solutions look towards our partner Phoenxt who can take your old bedding, Uniform, Clothing and defected garments/fabrics and turn those mixed fabrics into new materials from the existing waste without extracting new resources. Their groundbreaking technology focuses on blending fibres, like  Poly/Cotton and Polly/Celeous and turns them into yarns, then fabrics that is 
      • Solvent-free 
      • Maintains Fibre Quality 
      • Provide a more scalable method to make textile waste more recyclable, thus limiting CO2 emissions and clothing ending up in landfill 

    Dealing with those unused clothes in a more sustainable way. 

  • Restyling, Upcycling and repurposing  

  • As a designer, with any left over or unusable fabrics and clothes, turn them into something useful, like a pillow case or new bag can go a long way and maxbe open up a new business opportunity.  Moreover, with the stock you currently have, think about reselling it, with a different look and style. Through layering and using different accessories, you can be looking at something new and exciting moving forward.  



    We have a long way to go in making our fashion industry as circular as possible, but by using our tips and tricks, that feat can be made easier to attain a more circular economy in our progressive future.

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