Take away points from the Kearney Circular Fashion Index 2022 – still a way to go for fashion circularity

Some really interesting and eye-opening analysis coming out of the Kearney CFX 2022 report. Really worth a read! 150 global brands were assessed from 20 countries, over six categories – fast fashion, mass market, premium / affordable luxury, luxury, sports and lingerie and underwear, and assessed against criteria including the share of garments made of recycled fabrics, the availability of repair or maintenance services, second-hand sales, rental services and reuse of returned clothes as raw material or for donations. Patagonia lead the way with a score of 8.5 out of 10, and Levi Strauss not far behind with a score of 8.2, but overall the average score was just 2.97 out of 10.

Key takeaway points from the report for me were:

  • Google searches for sustainable fashion are up by 350% and second-hand platforms are experiencing double-digit growth but, even with an increased consumer awareness of the importance of sustainability, only 7% of fashion brands are using recycled materials to a credible extent, 54% using them on a few products, and 39% using no recycled materials whatsoever.
  • Luxury and premium brands seem to score the highest when it comes to circularity due to their extensive care instructions and repair services that their clientele expect based on the price point. Unsurprisingly lingerie brands have low scores since second-hand and rental services are understandably more difficult to introduce in this sector.
  • Only 5% of the brands assessed offer extensive repair services or second-hand sales and only 2% offer rental or lease services.

Although this report suggests there is clearly a way to go, we are seeing a definite increase in activity within the fashion sector regarding circularity. Within the last month alone, M&S has increased their range on the Hirestreet rental platform, Garment repair start-up Sojo has raised £ 1.9m in pre-seed funding for its service to give consumers easy access to garment alterations and repair services, and Mango has partnered with I: CO, for the reuse and recycling of clothing, shoes and textiles.

We’re also starting to see this increased activity impact on trade mark filings, with more applications covering the circularity best practice services highlighted in the CFX 2022 report, such as “clothing repair” in class 37, “recycling of clothing” in class 40 and “rental of clothing” in class 45. This seems to point to increased awareness and interest in sustainability within the fashion industry but it will be interesting to see what further steps fashion brands take in the coming months and years to advance fashion circularity.

“But, as CFX 2022 shows, there is a lot more the fashion industry could be doing. Producing significantly fewer clothing articles and at the same time extending the lifetime of their clothing by enabling consumers to wear them longer is the most effective way to reduce the industry’s environmental impact.

“But before that can happen, fashion brands must acknowledge, understand, and own their environmental impact from one end of the value chain to the other, including manufacturing, distribution, and retail partners. Only then will they be in a position to prioritize initiatives with the greatest impact.

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