Changing our clothes: Why the clothing sector should adopt new business models - June 2020

Changing our clothes: Why the clothing sector should adopt new business models - June 2020
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Changing our clothes: Why the clothing sector should adopt new business models - June 2020
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Changing our clothes: Why the clothing sector should adopt new business models - June 2020

Make Fashion Circular




Leading partner

The Ellen MacArthur Foundation is a charity which seeks to inspire decision makers across business, government, and academia to accelerate the transition towards a circular economy.


What’s the ambition behind Make Fashion Circular?

Launched in May 2017, Make Fashion Circular brings together leaders from across the fashion industry, including brands, cities, philanthropists, NGOs, and innovators. It is leading international efforts to stop waste and pollution in fashion by creating a circular economy for the industry, where products (apparel, footwear and accessories) are used more, are made to be made again and are made from safe and recycled or renewable inputs.


Why is today’s textile industry problematic?

The Ellen MacArthur Foundation report, A new textiles economy: Redesigning fashion’s future, identifies the fashion industry’s current take-make-dispose model as the root cause of its environmental problems and economic value loss, including: 

  • Resource use. 53 million tonnes of clothing are produced annually. More than 97% of the fibre consists of virgin - mostly non-renewable resources, including oil to produce synthetic fibres, fertilisers to grow natural fibres, and chemicals to dye textiles. 
  • Economic value. Every year, the industry misses out on billions of dollars through clothing that is barely worn, discarded too early and not recycled. For example, more than 73% of used clothes are incinerated or disposed of in landfills leading to USD100 billion worth of materials being lost each year.
  • Climate change. Global emissions from the clothing industry amounted to 1.2 billion tonnes of CO2 in 2015. This exceeds the combined footprint of all international flights and maritime shipping.
  • Environmental pollution. Textile production not only has a negative impact on the factory workers and their local environment, using plastic-based textiles, such as polyester, also contributes significantly to plastic microfibres leaking into our oceans.
  • Societal impacts. People producing clothes often suffer poor working conditions, including long working hours, hazardous work environments and low pay.


How will Make Fashion Circular transform the textiles industry?  

Make Fashion Circular unites 60 key stakeholders, including fashion brands, municipalities, NGOs, and innovators behind a shared vision, to radically redesign the fashion industry. Projects to date include WearNext and the Jeans Redesign.


For the Jeans Redesign, Make Fashion Circular brought together over 80 denim experts from across the Denim industry, to co-developed a list of guidelines to ensure jeans can be made for a circular economy. Launched in 2019, it now brings together over 50 leading brands, who thereby commit to:

  • Eliminating harmful chemicals from their production process;
  • Produce more durable garments;
  • Design jeans in a way that they can easily be turned into new clothing.


Make Fashion Circular brings together industry leaders including Burberry, Gap Inc., H&M Group, HSBC, Inditex, PVH and Stella McCartney as Core Partners and is made possible by Laudes Foundation, the players of the People’s Postcode Lottery and the MAVA Foundation.


Please see here for the full list of participants.




Textiles Action Network

This project contributes to the following Calls to Action from the Circular Economy Action Agenda for Textiles

1. Incentivize and Support Design for Longevity and Recyclability

3. Encourage the Market to Use Less Clothing, and for Longer

4. Guide and Support New Business Models for Environmental, Financial, and Social Triple-Win


To create positive impact, we have to turn global ambitions for circular clothing into tangible action points that can be taken up by local actors”  

- David Rogers, Head of International Resource Management at WRAP 



Denmark & UK 


Leading partner 

WRAP, a charity working with governments, businesses, and communities to deliver practical solutions to improve resource efficiency. 


Ambition of the Textiles Action Network project 

WRAP aims to develop global goals for a circular clothing economy and facilitate their translation into national frameworks with measurable targets. 


They focus on three long-term ambitions set out in the Ellen MacArthur Foundation's vision of a circular economy for fashion:


1) Circular Design – Clothes are made to be made again 

2) Circular Manufacture – Clothes are made from safe and renewable or recycled inputs 

3) Circular Retail – Clothes are used more 


Why do we need the Textiles Action Network? 

There is an urgent need to address the catastrophic environmental impacts of Fast Fashion. The current clothing system is extremely inefficient. It is estimated that more than half of fast fashion produced is disposed of in under a year[1].  


To shift to a sustainable textile industry will require a radical re-imagining of the current linear models. Many initiatives are already trying to combat this and drive a move to a circular economy – however, they all fall short. 


Currently, there is no proven, coordinated way of delivering change that harnesses government involvement and industry leadership, connects existing initiatives, and holds them to account. 


How will the Textiles Action Network facilitate the transition to a circular clothing industry? 

WRAP has an extensive track record of delivering change through the use of Voluntary Agreements. These have proven effective across multiple industry sectors and in multiple countries around the world and offer an alternative policy option to cumbersome, expensive, and inflexible legislation. WRAP has used its experience in developing these agreements to produce a ‘Blueprint’ to facilitate the successful delivery of national agreements across food and plastics.  


Project partner WRI has complimentary experience in both metric setting and policy engagement which underpin the successful implementation of such agreements. With funding from the Laudes Foundation (formerly C&A Foundation), WRAP will work closely with other key players in the circular fashion space to establish an effective, replicable model for national circular clothing action Plans. 


Textiles 2030™

In April 2021, WRAP introduced the UK's Sustainable Textiles Action Plan: Textiles 2030™. This ambitious new initiative is on a mission to transform the fashion and textiles sector into a climate-neutral and profitable industry that is fit for the future. With over 35 organisations signed up, Textiles 2030 is bringing the whole fashion and textiles industry together with governments, research institutes, innovators and disruptors with a bold commitment to make fashion more sustainable and tackle climate change.


What are the next steps? 

In July 2021, WRAP will launch the Danish Circular Pact 2030 translating the global agenda into a national framework and drive its implementation together with in-country partners. The Danish Circular Pact 2030  is a circular fashion agreement for Denmark in partnership with the Copenhagen based Lifestyle & Design Cluster with support from the Global Fashion Agenda and Dansk Fashion & Textile. The following steps are planned: 


  • Map out existing circular clothing initiatives and define gaps 

  • Develop global targets 

  • Find an in-country partner and win the support of the national government 

  • Build a steering committee with important local players from across the fashion supply chain 

  • Define national framework in cooperation with local stakeholders 

  • Develop governance structure and allocate funding 

  • Agree on most impactful interventions and roadmap 

  • Establish metrics, data collection method, and reporting standard 

  • Run pilot in-country 

  • Produce a Blueprint on how to set up a Voluntary Agreement on Circular Fashion 

  • Evaluate project results and disseminate achievements and lessons learned 


Successful completion of the project will be expanded on two dimensions: 

  • Share learning with the parallel agreement in the UK  

  • Replicate the project in other countries 


[1] Ellen Macarthur Foundation, A new Textiles Economy (2017) https://www.ellenmacarthurfoundation.org/assets/downloads/publications/A-New-Textiles-Economy_Full-Report_Updated_1-12-17.pdf 





In-country partners (TBC)






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