We live in a world of ‘fast fashion’. A world that relies on large quantities of cheap, mass-produced materials to feed its linear fashion system. A world where clothing and accessories are sold cheaply and replaced quickly. A world that needs to change. With global garment production set to increase by a staggering 63% by 2030, and the sustainability issues of the fashion industry intensifying every day, it’s no surprise that the Global Fashion Agenda (GFA) has called on fashion brands and retailers to adopt sustainability as an integral part of their business strategy. The industry-wide aim is to transition to a more cyclic fashion system, with the collection, reusing and recycling of used garments at its core. Here we’re taking a look at the 2020 Circular Fashion System Commitment and how it can help save the fashion industry.
The Commitment in a nutshell
At 2017’s Copenhagen Fashion Summit, the GFA appealed for fashion brands and retailers to sign a commitment to accelerate the transition of the fashion industry to a circular economy model. 64 international fashion companies have now signed the 2020 Circular Fashion System Commitment, representing 7.5% of the global fashion market. Popular brands such as H&M, M&S, adidas and ASOS are among those to pledge their commitment to GFA’s vision. The signatories have set 143 targets between them, committing to actions in four different areas:
- Implementing design strategies for cyclability.
- Increasing the volume of used garments collected.
- Increasing the volume of used garments resold.
- Increasing the share of garments made from recycled post-consumer textile fibres.
The GFA has agreed to support each company in implementing the Commitment through knowledge sharing, policy engagement and by facilitating industry alignment.
Why do we need a circular system?
The fashion industry is one of the largest in the world, but also one of the most resource and labour intensive. The industry’s very linear economic model of ‘take, make, dispose’ is reaching its physical limits, and the environmental, social and ethical challenges that it faces are a foreboding threat on both the planet and the industry itself. There’s a strong case for change, with no alternative but for brands and retailers to accelerate their efforts towards sustainable practices.
Most importantly, a circular system will promote the restoration and regeneration of materials, preventing important resources from being wasted and enabling the industry to meet future resource demands. It also offers new opportunities for innovative design, including the development of recycled textile fibres. A cyclic fashion system also promises increased customer engagement with consumers who increasingly insist on sustainable, transparent practices.
What does this mean for consumers?
As the Commitment signatories work towards their 2020 targets, consumers can expect to see plenty of initiatives that focus on the reselling of used garments and development of products made from innovative recycled fibres. For instance, British online fashion retailer ASOS has committed to eradicating materials that cannot be recycled from their supply chain over the next two years. They have also pledged to launch a clothing collection and recycling scheme for customers in the UK and Germany. They join brands like H&M, who famously instigated their garment collection initiative worldwide in 2013. H&M are passionate about making it as easy as possible for consumers to give their clothes a new life and ultimately help close the loop on fashion. They have gathered more than 55,000 tonnes of garments since their collection initiative first launched, and only want to improve on this over the next two years.
As well as more collection points for unwanted clothes popping up on the high street, another change that consumers can expect is access to better information about how to correctly care for their products. Luxury fashion house Hugo Boss have pledged to provide their customers with more detailed care information that will ultimately help prolong the lifespan of their garments.
Doing our bit
Here at Colville Leather we share the vision of the GFA and the 2020 Circular Fashion System Commitment. The fashion industry is using more resources than the planet allows, and anything we can do to reduce this is worth investing in. In the throwaway society that’s come to be, we believe that part of the answer to a sustainable future is to make products that don’t require regular replacement. All of our leather goods are handcrafted with longevity in mind – master craftsman Matt Nesbitt carefully designs each and every product to last a lifetime if cared for correctly. We want your Colville Leather wallet, belt or bag to become a loyal sidekick on all your adventures. Therefore, we are passionate about educating our customers on how to care for their leather products to really get the most out of them.
To find out more about the 2020 Circular Fashion System Commitment, visit the GFA website. A progress report is due to be published in May 2018, highlighting signatories’ activities and progress in reaching their targets.
If you share our passion for sustainability and are on a mission to ditch fast fashion, get in touch! Let us know what you’re doing to make a difference – we’d love to hear from you. Share your tips on social media and help us spread the word about the fashion revolution.