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Fashion Commits to Circular Economy

Global fashion brands including H&M, Primark and Zalando have joined a new initiative convened by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation to promote circularity in the sector. Launched at the Global Fashion Summit in Copenhagen this week, the Fashion ReModel initiative aims at scaling business models that do not rely on selling new items, encouraging repair and resale instead. Participating companies will trial business offerings that decouple revenue from the production of new garments, prioritising rental, upcycling and maintenance or customisation. They will then present findings to policymakers, with hopes that this will provide learnings on successfully scaling such business models. Several participants brands have already tested circular models – including H&M, which has been offering in-store garment rental in Sweden since 2019 and in the UK since 2022. However, the sale of new items still predominates. “In order to challenge conventional linear models and create a new normal, brands must decouple revenue from production by accelerating efforts to redesign the products of the future, as well as rethinking the services and business models that deliver them to customers and keep them in use,” said the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s Fashion Lead Jules Lennon. “The fashion industry is rooted in reinvention and we welcome business-led action towards a world where, instead of being worn once and discarded, clothes can be used many more times and threaded through the lives of more people.” None of the world’s 11 largest fashion brands publicly share data on the number of items they produce and sell each year, according to global advocacy group Stand.Earth. Ellen MacArthur believes circular options could take up to a quarter of the fashion market share by 2030 with the right support from businesses and policymakers. Separately, the foundation announced this week a partnership with marketing data and analytics company Kantar to develop and promote circular economy as a solution to global challenges including climate change, biodiversity loss, waste, and pollution.

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