The Rise of Circular Fashion

The Rise of Circular Fashion

The Importance of Circular Fashion

The 20th century globalised the fashion industry and led to the consequent emergence of the fast fashion industry. The industry’s textile production accounts for devastating global emissions equivalent to 1.2 billion tonnes of CO2 every year. That’s a bigger carbon footprint than all international flights and shipping combined. 

The fast fashion industry relies on the disposability of items. People frequently wear clothes once or twice and then discard them, with the vast majority ending up in landfill or an incinerator. £140 million worth of clothing is sent to landfill every year in the UK.

The environmental issues are not where the problem ends. Fast fashion relies on globalisation, it is powered by cheap labour and exploitation used to generate huge profits with low production costs.

The emergence of the circular fashion model is beginning to change the face of the fashion industry with the 6 R’s - reducing, recycling, refurbishing, reselling, renting and repairing. Clothing is designed with the intention to be used and circulate in society for as long as possible, created with longevity and ethics in mind.

One way that circular fashion has taken off in recent years is through the reselling of second hand clothes, on sites such as Depop and Vinted. Both combine social aspects of Instagram with the buy-and-sell format of eBay.  We spoke to Elsa Scott, a young depop seller, about her experience of running a Depop account: 

“I originally started using Depop in 2017 as a quick way to get rid of some old clothes. For years I had loved shopping, choosing to shop 2nd hand for environmental reasons and I liked the originality it gave my wardrobe. I quickly realised that reselling clothes was a fun and easy way for me to make money. 

I sourced my clothes originally from charity shops, ebay, car boot sales and flea markets. It gave me an excuse to shop constantly (and justified a shopping addiction.) Once I began to realise the profit I could make from certain items, I started using international wholesalers to source my clothes. I spent a few months living in Spain in 2019. The whole trip was paid for from buying clothes from flea markets and charity shops and reselling them on Depop.

During lockdown, sales increased even further. Not only did it keep me occupied during such a strange time but it also gave me the opportunity to organise the sustainable aspects of my business, such as sourcing recyclable mailing bags. I also partnered with my sister who is brilliant at fixing and upcycling the pieces I find.

Depop and other online preloved retailers are not only a great way to clear your wardrobe and buy new clothes, they also embody the model of circular/sustainable fashion. Items are given a new home, reducing waste and landfill, altering the linear model of the fast fashion industry. 

For me it is so important that we reduce the amount of clothing that ends up in landfill, it’s as simple as buying from sustainable retailers, 2nd hand shops or donating unwanted clothing to charities such as Smart Works”.