Fashion Goes Full Circle: Sustainability and Circular fashion

Vedika Dawar

Amidst this pandemic, a silver lining has been the blue skies that everyone seems to be talking about, though these skies have come at a very heavy cost i.e. a nationwide lockdown, which is not sustainable. While every sector recovers from the current horrors, the world is being urged to do it with an environmentally friendly perspective. Fashion is a large contributor to the environmental problems we face.

Are you looking at taking giant leaps to reduce your carbon footprint?

Circular fashion is the answer. It is essentially a re-routing of the traditional ‘cradle to grave’ journey for pieces of clothing, shoes, or accessories; an offshoot of the circular economy concept which challenges fashion’s linear approach: a take-make-dispose pattern, with a regenerative one. It aims at the manufacture of fashion products that are designed with the notions of resource efficiency, non-toxicity, biodegradability, and recyclability.

Is circular fashion the same as sustainable fashion?

This new concept is often confused with sustainability, or even sometimes considered a jumped-up version of it. Circular fashion is a more inclusive term, and sustainability is just one of its many components. The responsibility of following circular fashion is passed on from scratch to consumption and back. However, the concept of sustainable fashion may often overlook what happens to the product after consumption - it ends up in a landfill. Right now the equivalent of one dump truck of textiles gets landfilled or burned every second. The growing hunger for newness is nurturing the growth of fast fashion even though it has come under the most intense scrutiny, ever. Garments are worn much less and discarded much quicker.

India is poised to become the world's sixth-largest apparel market in 2022 - a manufacturing hub and major consumption market. Ethical fashion is on its rise but is preaching sustainability enough?

How can you make your fashion habits more circular?

While it may seem off-limits and intimidating, circular fashion can be cheaper and easier than you'd expect-

  • Rental fashion is a great solution with a lot of online, vintage, and second-hand platforms. For example, Lionise and Kiabza are two startups innovating with new retail models of rental and second-hand clothing.

  • Social media; the thing that a number of us spend a majority of our screen-time on, can be utilized for resale or exchange to finally give up the clothes lingering in your wardrobe.

  • Rewear: According to Big Think: ‘by wearing one item of clothing for 9 months longer, a person can actually reduce his or her carbon print by 3 percent’. Now, isn't that a leap? So, wear your clothes for as long as you can, and after that resell or exchange, and when dumping seems inevitable, recycle.

While buying from circular fashion brands is always an option, the dependency of this nonlinear pattern on its consumers is always seen as a major limitation. Circular consumption is as significant as circular production.

The integration of this pattern requires the creation of a new business model on the basis of recycled goods. That is undeniably tough but not unachievable. As the world is moving towards the descent of fast fashion, India is willing to join the ‘global circularity movement’, owing to which the industry is preparing itself to build a circular fashion industry.

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