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McDonough Innovation’s Fashion for Good Is Redefining How We Design, Make, Reuse Fashion

The apparel and textile industries have long struggled with environmental and social impacts and the rise of fast fashion has only aggravated the problem, with its unsustainable business model that is based on an unrealistic trajectory of growth. But with the launch of Fashion for Good, McDonough Innovation is hoping to change all of that. The joint-industry “open-source” initiative aims to transition apparel culture toward a Cradle to Cradle inspired circular model.

Based in Amsterdam, the innovation and practical action lab was initially created with a grant from founding partner C&A Foundation. Other partners include the Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute, the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, IDH — The Sustainable Trade Initiative, Impact Hub Amsterdam, McDonough Innovation, The Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC), Plug and Play and Kering.

Fashion for Good aims to inspire the apparel industry to reimagine the way fashion is designed, made, worn and reused. In addition to uniting key players from across the fashion industry, it supports the scale up of technologies, methodologies and business models with the potential to wholly transform the industry.

Realizing holistic improvements in a complex global supply chain, with materials that have been historically hard to source or verify has been a major obstacle for the apparel industry. Using the Cradle to Cradle (C2C) Certified™ Product Standard, Fashion for Good promotes and supports five basic “goods:”

  • Good Materials: Good materials are safe, healthy and designed for reuse and recycling
  • Good Economy: A good economy is growing, circular, shared and benefitting everyone
  • Good Energy: Good energy is renewable and clean
  • Water: Good water is clean and available to all
  • Good Lives: Living and working conditions are just, safe and dignified

“Fashion for Good will expedite adoption more broadly in the supply chain, helping to overcome some of the greatest hurdles in aligning sustainability practices in a complex system of international vendors. Meanwhile, the values of the organization will be able to infuse best practices deeply within the industry,” said architect, author, designer and thought leader William McDonough. “The Five Goods represent an aspirational model we can all use to work towards a world in which we will fashion endlessly with grace and dignity.”

For the initiative’s launch, innovators were invited to pitch their ideas, projects and technologies to Fashion for Good partners. Ten of the startups will be chosen to be a part of the accelerator and a three-month mentoring program. The accelerator prioritizes three areas of the apparel industry: raw material sourcing, fabric and garment production and end-of-use, with a specific focus on improving efficiencies for water use, energy use, waste and chemical use, as well as improving labor practices. Each startup will receive training, mentorship and networking opportunities.

Additionally, fashion retailer C&A announced that it will be the first worldwide retailer to launch Cradle to Cradle™ Certified GOLD apparel as part of their 2017 summer collection. Developed in partnership with Fashion for Good and with the guidance of MBDC, the compostable garments served as the case study for the open-source Cradle to Cradle Certified™ 'How-To' Guide. The online guide offers practical tips, a self-diagnostic tool to show suppliers and manufacturers how to improve their products and production facilities and a step-by-step guide on how to produce Cradle to Cradle Certified™ products.

“C&A Foundation is here to transform the fashion industry. As our largest partner to date, Fashion for Good will both inspire new ways of thinking and provide practical tools for a better global apparel industry. Open and inclusive, Fashion for Good will help the industry to bring innovations and new business models to scale,” said Leslie Johnston, Executive Director at C&A Foundation.