1 July 2019
Action for Circular Textiles & Fashion
Why can’t we be friends?
At EIG we’ve been actively working to transform the fashion and textiles industries. Using the Cradle to Cradle Certified Products Program as a design framework and transparency tool, we’ve worked with suppliers, manufacturers, brands, chemical industries, and other stakeholders to start configurating a new landscape where materials are safely and perpetually cycled.
Walking this path we understand that many of the current problems or barriers to accelerate the transformation towards a regenerative economy are in the lack of empathy. And the circular economy is all about working together, so how can we work together if we don’t understand each other? We realized that we need to connect all stakeholders in order to build the fashion & textiles ecosystem.
We decided then to begin building this network of trust, to enable collaboration. That is the intention behind the Action for Circular Textiles initiative.
Milano: kick-off at Denim Première Vision
As many denim manufacturers and brands from all around the world attended Denim Premiere Vision Milano, we thought it was a good opportunity to organize this first meeting point for the fashion & textiles ecosystem. Then, we contacted our friends in Circular Economy Club Milano and Rèn Collective to help with the first atempt to meet each other, in an informal but business oriented environment. Textile manufacturers of different kinds such as Botto Giusepe e Figli, Rajby Textiles, Duedilatte, Candiani Denim and Zegna Baruffa joined the conversation with fashion brand lawyers, designers, fashion consultants and representatives of consumers’ collectives.
The aperitivo became the first step to build a community of action.
The discussion was open and informal, oriented by questions around four topics: Impact Reporting, Value Retention, Transparency and Business Models.
Regarding Impact Reporting, there’s confusion on what is needed and why. Too many certifications nowadays fight for the same market and it’s not clear what the value is beyond compliance. Manufacturers in many cases just react to what brands are asking but there’s no strategy behind, so they just anwer to their market demand of a label without knowledge of what those labels really mean and what value they can bring to them and to the planet.
On the other hand, brands ask for compliance and improvements but, at the same time, they put a lot of pressure to keep prices low..
Consumer awarenes is increasing by the hours but there’s also the need to properly explain what they should look for when aiming to buy/rent circular/sustainable products.
At the end of this first meeting (with a cold drink in our hands) we felt like starting to build a bridge -or to knit our net- and decided to keep going, aiming to reach the other end. Then we created a LinkedIn group to stay in touch and keep conversation open: Action for Circular Textiles (would you join us?).
The biggest event of the textile industry happened to take place in Barcelona this very June, so we thought it was the perfect time to meet again. This time we wanted the public administration to join us too, as well as some brand representatives, manufacturers, designers, reporters… We also invited some manufacturers of textiles for building interiors. This step forward was still focus on the same 4 topics but aiming to arrive to more specific problems.
Transparency and collaboration:
there was a deep conversation around this topic. What are the limits? How to share without losing competitive advantage? Is it really possible to be transparent without risking your business? There were different points of view but it was clear that the trends are heading towards collaborative models. And transparency is required to implement the circular economy and to build trust. It was pointed out the importance of having a strong value proposition to avoid this problem as well as a good storytelling.
transparency came out again when talking about impact reporting, as well as the different labels and certification programs. Each brand requires a different label. Manufacturers just react to this and apply to innumerable programs without knowing the value of each, sometimes assessing the same metrics several times. We, as Cradle to Cradle Certified assessors, are very aware of it. That’s why we work only with this program: we know that is an optimization path that goes beyond sectorial certifications. The question is how to report your efforts in a consistent way? Is it possible to harmonize all certifications or benchmark them? Financial support was also referred here, as manufacturers are required to change formulations to meet the requirements but brands don’t support them -in most of the cases- in this innovation process.
Business Models & Value Retention:
this topic is one of the most explored already in the circular economy; but if products are not designed to fit in this new business practices, they won’t be circular either. One of the strategies mentioned was the innovation in materials, to enable real circularity (both for biological and technical cycles). Models such as clever re-using and rental combined with smart packaging were also explored.
What is not reflected here is the knowledge shared. All the attendants were prfessionals with a deep background and all enriched the conversation with their expertise. I think we all learned something.
Thanks for coming! Let’s keep the dialogue open and look for action opportunities together!
Many thanks to Cubiñá for sharing their amazing space and furniture with us!
Join the conversation at Action for Circular Textiles