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H&M, Primark among 7 brands in new circular fashion initiative

Fashion giants are attempting to decouple revenue from production.
Melodie Michel
H&M, Primark among 7 brands in new circular fashion initiative
Photo by Jonathan Kemper on Unsplash

Fast fashion giants H&M and Primark are two of seven brands trying to decouple revenue from production as part of a new circular fashion initiative.

Led by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, which campaigns for a more circular economy, the Fashion ReModel initiative aims to identify solutions to decouple revenue from the unsustainable production of new garments. 

These could include renting, reselling, repairing and remaking products to keep them in use for longer: according to the foundation, these new models could make up 23% of the global fashion market by 2030, or about US$700 billion.

Arc’teryx, Arket, Cos, Reformation and Weekday also joined the initiative inspired by the foundation’s “Jeans Redesign” project, through which participants such as H&M tried to reimagine jeans for a circular economy between 2019 and 2023.

Leyla Ertur, Head of Sustainability at the H&M Group, said: “The Jeans Redesign pushed us to explore what circular design could mean for our product assortment and now The Fashion ReModel is set to do the same with circular business models. The opportunity presented by decoupling the fashion industry’s growth from resource use is huge and this project can help us better understand how to further scale these models.”

Fashion industry’s climate impacts

The fashion sector is estimated to produce 10% of global GHG emissions, as well as polluting soils and rivers and generating enormous amounts of waste (as much as 40% of total production). 

Apparel companies are working to reduce their negative impacts on the environment: many have set or are setting science-based climate targets and are transitioning (slowly) to more sustainable materials.

But for many experts, the real problem lies in their business models, which are based on the fast and cheap production of short-lived garments and trends. This is exactly what the Fashion ReModel initiative, launched today at the Global Fashion Summit, aims to tackle. 

“Today, the fashion industry operates under a take-make-waste model, meaning millions of tonnes of clothing are produced, worn, and discarded every year. We must reinvent this wasteful linear system and fundamentally transform the way we design, make, and ultimately enjoy our clothes,” says the Ellen McArthur Foundation on its website.