The fashion system based on disposable consumption and fast fashion has come to the end of the road. This system is unsustainable for both the environment and people – but in addition it is not even the key to successful business in the future.
We can no longer perceive the life span of a garment as linear, from cradle to grave. In the future, all materials should move in a closed loop from cradle to cradle. To make this happen, we need to shift towards a circular economy and concentrate on the whole life cycle of a garment. Circular economy in clothing production covers the whole chain from raw material to production design, manufacturing, use, reuse and all the way to recycling again into new raw material.
The term circular economy has been considered as a vague and distant matter which concentrates merely on waste streams and has nothing to do with design. But as a matter of fact design is the key to comprehensively understanding circular economy in the clothing industry. Design can no longer be only product design sketched on a piece of paper. We must consider the broader context and ask questions: Do we need this product? What problem does it solve? Does it serve its intended use? What is its impact on the environment and people? How can it be reused? How can it be recycled?
Through design we can achieve a real systemic change which puts the whole industry on a truly sustainable path. When we understand the broader context it helps us to identify the correlations between different issues and phenomena. This way the user of a garment feels that she/he is part of the cycle and not just a consumer wasting resources.