As they say, what goes around comes around. Be it fashion trends, or economic cycles. This winter there are a number of fashion initiatives which seek to challenge the idea that we can endlessly buy things, throw them away and consume in a way that is detrimental to our planet. 

The idea of ‘circular fashion’ was created from the rooted notion of a circular economy. Coined in 2014 by Dr Ann Brisbar, it refutes trend-led design, stating the importance of longevity and timelessness and affirming the importance of ethical production and environmental sustainability.

The Ellen MacArthur Foundation is a charity which aims to accelerate the transition to a circular economy by challenging the creative industries to design with sustainability in mind. In May 2017 they launched Make Fashion Circular in partnership with a number of brands, including Stella McCartney, Burberry and Gap Inc. Stella McCartney co-hosted the launch of the charity’s report, ‘A New Textiles Economy: Redesigning Fashion’s Future’ and the label has long been committed addressing the climate crisis through its own practices, urging “everyone in the fashion industry [to work] together with unprecedented levels of commitment and innovation.”

And after the turning tide of public opinion, led by voices such as David Attenborough and Greta Thunberg, the fashion industry is responding. A number of brands have launched circular fashion initiatives which merge sustainable practice and creativity in design and have begun to think about how a progressive outlook can reconcile newness with nowness. 

In November, secondary marketplace Vestiaire Collective announced the first instalment of their Circularity Collabs, which seeks to close the loop in fashion to create a truly sustainable industry. Partnering with Joseph, the initiative rewards customers for selling their pre-owned pieces.

“We want people to care for their pieces before passing them on to another fashion lover. No single uses, no landfills” states their press release. In the UK, where over 300,000 tonnes of unwanted clothes are sent to landfills every year, that’s a pretty radical outlook. 

Last month the sustainable cosmetics brand Haekels announced that they wanted to take a stand against Black Friday, a “marketing ploy to encourage mass unnecessary consumption”. Instead of slashing prices and going for a stack-them-high-sell-them-cheap approach, they called their initiative ‘Barter Day’. Haekels invited customers into their Margate store to exchange an item or service that they believe would be of value to their business for a product. They state that ‘creating a circular economy and building community’ forms part of their wider project to tackle the environmental crisis. 

Cocoon is a sustainable handbag rental subscription where sharing is caring. Every month members can borrow a designer bag from their collection. Created to challenge throw-away fashion, the program “offers a circular solution to the environmental and economic cost of purchasing luxury handbags”.  With longevity in mind, they have partnered with The Restory to ensure every bag stays spic and span for as long as possible.

Similarly, on the 8th December, The Yellow Series is hosting a Christmas Market at Somerset house where you can purchase vintage and pre-loved designer clothing. Labels, including Alex Eagle, Laura Bailey and, will have stalls selling their pieces and Spring will be providing tea and cakes from their ‘Scratch’ menu, made of ingredients which would otherwise have gone to waste. Envisaged as part of a circular economy, the event is an attempt to create a sustainable Christmas shopping experience.

The advent of these circular initiatives marks perhaps the beginning of the end of mindless Christmas shopping mania and solutions that will start testing the appetite for a more sustainable consumption cycle. Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!