The apparel industry continues to make progress towards shedding its bad rep, with even more brands making moves to rethink traditional supply chains. Five fashion heavy hitters — H&M, Kering, Loomstate, Zero + Maria Cornejo and Eileen Fisher — have joined Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute’s Fashion Positive PLUS initiative in an effort to transform their material inputs through the development of circular solutions that can remain in perpetual cycles of use and reuse.
During the 2017 Copenhagen Fashion Summit, the five brands began the process of identifying ‘building block’ materials, such as fibers, yarns, finishings, trims and dyes that the group will collaboratively work to optimize for material health, safety and circularity. The process will culminate with the assessment and verification of these materials using the Cradle to Cradle Certified™ Product Standard. The materials will also be added to the Fashion Positive Materials Collection, which currently lists 70 Cradle to Cradle Certified materials with apparel and fashion applications.
“The aim of Fashion Positive PLUS is to convene some of the biggest brands and brightest design innovators in the world to collaborate on accelerating the optimization and availability of positive, circular building block materials for the fashion industry,” said Annie Gullingsrud, Director of Textiles and Apparel for the Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute.
“Specifically, PLUS will focus on driving the improvement of commonly used materials with the highest potential to positively impact human and environmental health and, in the process, catalyze systemic change for the fashion industry.”
For H&M, the move is a logical next step on its path towards becoming ‘climate positive’ by 2040. In April, the retail giant announced that it intends to use 100 percent recycled and sustainably sourced materials by 2030 and teamed up with the Ellen MacArthur Foundation and Stockholm University’s Stockholm Resilience Center to explore what a circular system for producing and using textiles would look like.
“As a company, we see that we need a systemic change to the way that fashion is made and used and we need to find ways to scale circular materials. Fashion Positive PLUS is a good way to join with others who have the same ambition,” said Cecilia Stromblad-Brännsten, Circular Lead for H&M.
“Through PLUS, we think we can achieve a whole range of circular materials that we can put into the market within a very short time, including yarns, fabrics and trimmings. By working together with other PLUS members, we can also focus on the right materials at the right time, finding scalable solutions that will work for companies throughout our industry.”
Joining Fashion Positive PLUS also builds on French luxury group Kering’s continuous work to make sustainability the industry standard. In partnership with Plug and Play and Fashion for Good, the company launched the Fashion for Good design accelerator back in April to help find new solutions for some of fashion’s biggest sustainability challenges. And earlier this week, Kering, as a member of the Natural Capital Impact Group released a new healthy ecosystem metric to help support companies as they transition to a more sustainable business model.
“Innovation approaches like circularity have endless possibilities and can truly change the industry as we know it today,” said Cecilia Takayama, Director of the Materials Innovation Lab at Kering. “Stella McCartney has already been involved in the Fashion Positive Initiative since its launch in 2014 and through the PLUS extension it is an exciting prospect to collaborate with other leaders in this area to augment Kering’s circular approach. I am already envisioning the new, sustainably certified materials that our Materials Innovation Lab will be able to offer to all our brands.”
Led by the Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute as part of its Fashion Positive Initiative, Fashion Positive PLUS is funded by the Eric and Wendy Schmidt Fund for Strategic Innovation, Walmart Foundation, H&M Foundation and the DOEN Foundation of the Dutch Postcode Lottery, all of which provided grants and support for PLUS members and the fashion industry to accelerate circular apparel work.