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The Next Economy
4 Steps Forward for a Circular Economy for Fashion

Eastman's new Naia Renew portfolio, ASOS’ first circular collection, and the launch of brands Borobabi and Covalent add to the budding landscape of fashion that chips away at the rampant waste created by the industry.

Eastman unveils traceable, transparent, circular Naia™ Renew portfolio

Image credit: Eastman

This week, Eastman — producer of sustainably sourced Naia™ cellulosic fiber — has introduced its new Naia™ Renew portfolio of fabrics and filaments, sourced from 60 percent wood pulp and 40 percent recycled waste plastics. Eastman says Naia Renew cellulosic fiber is traceable, biodegradable and captures the value of hard-to-recycle materials that would otherwise be destined for landfills.

Fully circular, Naia Renew is produced with a low carbon footprint in a closed-loop process where solvents are safely recycled back into the system for reuse. The fiber is made from wood pulp sourced from certified forests, and the recycled plastics feedstock is generated via Eastman's patented carbon renewal technology (CRT). CRT is an integrated, molecular recycling technology that breaks down waste plastics, such as post-consumer carpet fiber and plastic packaging materials, into basic molecular building blocks for the manufacture of new products including fibers — a truly circular solution creating value from waste.

Available as both a filament yarn and a staple fiber, Naia Renew offers clear advantages over other materials. Naia Renew filament features a silky hand, rich luster and fluid drape and is used to create fashionable womenswear garments; while Naia Renew staple fiber is inherently soft and quick drying, with reduced pilling properties, making it ideal for everyday casual wear.

"Our vision is to make sustainable fashion accessible for everyone. Naia Renew enables a circular economy for the fashion industry and helps brands meet their eco-conscious goals," said Ruth Farrell, global marketing director of textiles for Eastman. "We're transforming what a fabric can be and do to meet the sustainability demands of our customers and to create a world where brands and consumers can be in fashion without compromising on quality and performance."

Naia™ is actively collaborating across the value chain for Naia Renew and will have announcements regarding brand partnerships soon.

* Naia Renew recycled content is achieved by allocation of recycled plastics through mass balance accounting.

ASOS launches first circular fashion collection

Image credit: ASOS

British online fashion and cosmetics giant ASOS launched its first circular collection this week — it features clothing and accessories all designed and made to meet industry-leading circularity principles, with no compromise on product or price. With this collection, the brand aims to challenging the misconception that circular and sustainable clothing can’t be fashionable.

The launch follows the company’s commitment at the Copenhagen Fashion Summit in 2018 to train all of its designers on circular design by 2020. Since then, ASOS — one of the world’s leading online fashion retailers — has created and launched a training programme with the Centre for Sustainable Fashion, part of London College of Fashion, which has since been rolled out to all ASOS designers. ASOS is also a participant in the Ellen MacArthur Foundation (EMF)’s Make Fashion Circular initiative, which drives collaboration between industry leaders and other key stakeholders.

To create the collection, ASOS defined eight bespoke design principles:

  1. Zero-waste design: Using zero-waste pattern-cutting methods to ensure all fabric is used in the most efficient way as possible.

  2. Minimised waste: Using manufacturing techniques that minimise waste.

  3. Recycled input: Selecting materials with a recycled input to lower the impact of materials and to drive uptake of recycled materials within the fashion industry.

  4. Durability: Selecting materials and construction methods that will allow garments to endure wear and care, so they last longer.

  5. Versatility: Designing products that can adapt and be styled in multiple ways.

  6. Mono-material: Using the same recyclable material throughout a garment, so that its main fabrications can be easily recycled at end of life.

  7. Disassembly: Designing products that can be easily taken apart at the end of their life, which makes it easier to reuse or recycle.

  8. Upcycle: Using design and product modifications to remanufacture and upcycle something old into something new.

These eight principles are aligned to EMF’s three foundations of a circular economy: designing out waste and pollution; keeping products and materials in use; and regenerating natural systems. Each product in the collection must apply design principles that meet a minimum of two of these foundations in order to be considered circular — meaning they will remain in use for as long as possible, can be reused or repurposed at the end of their lives, and create minimal waste.

Each product will feature a QR code on its garment tag, which customers can scan to visit and learn more about our circular design principles and how the product was made.

Learn more about ASOS’ first circular collection

Borobabi introduces circular clothing model for kids

Image credit: Borobabi/Facebook

Meanwhile, Borobabi — a clothing company that rents new and pre-loved children’s fashions — has launched its debut fall lineup of high-quality, ethically produced garments.

Created by two cousins who recognized an opportunity to address the 63 million pounds of children’s clothing going into landfill daily, Borobabi offers parents items from popular ethical children’s apparel brands — such as Nui, Mori, Nature Baby, Liilu and more — that meet specific environmental and social standards. Through its unique “borrow” model, parents can select and keep items until children outgrow them, or they’re out of season. Borobabi’s circularity model optimizes the inputs, usage and end-of-life of each garment it offers.

The $16B children’s clothing market suffers from massive underutilization. On average, parents spend more than $700 a year on kids’ clothes, only to see them grow out of them within months, resulting in over two billion pounds of clothing going into landfill each year.

“We recognized an opportunity to address multiple problems with a single solution,” said Borobabi co-founder and CEO Carolyn Butler. “With Borobabi, parents get affordable, high-quality, modern, stylish clothing; our shared economy model unlocks higher profit potential than a traditional linear business model; plus Borobabi diverts waste from landfills.”

Butler, a chemical engineer turned entrepreneur, teamed up with her cousin — designer Meris Butler — to create Borobabi. With approximately 100 beta customers and initial funding from friends and family, Borobabi is ready to scale with the launch of its fall lineup — and it’s looking for more ethical clothing brands to partner with.

“Borobabi has high standards for brand partners. We look for companies that use organic fibers, integrate sustainability into their design process, and align with our social values,” Meris Butler says. “Because we are so discerning, parents can trust we’re offering both cute and stylish items, and that they’re durable, chemical-free and produced with ethical labor practices.”

In addition to children’s clothing, Borobabi will introduce a maternity wear line in August 2021.

Meet Covalent™: The world’s first regenerative, carbon-negative fashion brand made with AirCarbon®

Images credit: Covalent

Another noteworthy debut comes from Covalent — a new, direct-to-consumer fashion brand from parent company Newlight Technologies — which marries high-quality craftsmanship with cutting-edge biological carbon-capture technology to create the world’s first regenerative, carbon-negative fashion products made with AirCarbon®.

Newlight first burst onto the scene in 2013 with its groundbreaking process that extracts carbon molecules from methane gas and turns them into plastic. AirCarbon was quickly picked up by brands such as Sprint and Dell, and turned into products such as iPhone cases and packaging, respectively.

Now, Covalent is using AirCarbon as an alternative to acetate in eyewear, and leather in handbags, wallets and other accessories — the company bonds AirCarbon with other carefully selected materials to maximize each product’s strength, flexibility and utility.

Each Covalent product generates a net carbon-negative footprint, and demonstrates the utility and beauty of carbon in greenhouse gas.

To help increase transparency and traceability, Covalent shares the exact negative carbon footprint of every product it makes, as verified through LCAs created by third-party carbon accounting firms that are available for review.

“We think that to help empower change in the fashion industry, consumers should have actionable information about the carbon impact of the products they use,” said Newlight CEO Mark Herrema.

With the launch of Covalent, Newlight has opened a new, commercial-scale AirCarbon production facility in Southern California; the company has simultaneously launched a brand of regenerative foodwear made using AirCarbon, called Restore™. Products from both brands are expected to begin shipping in Q4.