Designing for circularity
The way we design has been different since day one. Choosing timeless design over passing trends, longevity and quality over throwaway fashion. Every piece that we create is designed in our London atelier by a team of in-house experts. Our collections are developed through several stages of quality checks and trials – nothing leaves our atelier without the approval of our design team. It’s how we’ve built your trust.
Now we’re on a journey to take this one step further by making sure all the products we create are designed for circularity. This means that when they reach the end of their life, they can be passed on to new owners, repaired with ease, or recycled into something new. We want to develop our design process, from the first sketch to the final stitch. Find even better methods, make improvements and enable our products to go full circle.
To create more circular collections, we have three fundamental principles of circularity in mind throughout all our design stages: designing products that can be used more, are made to be made again, and are made from safe and recycled or renewable materials. These are based on the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s definition from Make Fashion Circular.
When it comes to measuring success, we’re introducing a new guideline that scores each product on its circular potential. Our aim is to have all the pieces in our collection designed using the H&M Group’s Circulator Tool.
We begin by thinking about the purpose and what role this particular piece will play in the person’s wardrobe – and its lifespan. For example, a coat is more likely to be kept and worn more over time than a party dress that will be worn only occasionally. Once this has been established, we can focus on applying the best sustainable design solutions to help every piece in the collection reach its circular potential.
These are pieces in our collection that will be worn only occasionally and will see less physical stress, such as partywear. Though they are still style investments, there is a higher chance they could be replaced over time.
In this case, we focus on designing to avoid waste and recyclability. This could be by using more efficient pattern-cutting methods, so the waste is reduced in the process, or making the piece so it can be recycled easily at the end of its life.
For clothing that we use on a more daily basis, such as shirts, jeans or knitwear, we want to strike the balance between designing for durability and recyclability. Though we want the pieces to last, they can also be damaged more because of everyday life.
Here, we take many things into consideration. The design should be crafted from strong fabrics and able to be repaired easily. The fit is not too bespoke and instead is relevant for many body types. It’s versatile and can be worn in many ways. And it’s designed in way that enables a range of circular reuse solutions, such as Repair or Resell.
These pieces tend to live in a wardrobe for longer and will see more physical stress, such as a coat or suit. To make sure these designs stand the test of time, we focus on designing for longevity.
The shapes are often more timeless, so they don’t lose relevance over time. Details are more considered and reinforced through techniques, such as double stitching and adding bar tacks. These designs will also be tested more extensively and it usually takes longer for us to perfect the finished piece. This is also an opportunity for us to offer more bespoke services, such as made to measure.
This is determined on the number of washes the piece can withstand without impacting its design and performance. In addition to this, materials are assessed based on fibre type, fabric structure, fabric weight, yarn type, wash treatment, dye stuff and any finishes.
Our brand was built on a foundation of creating clothes to last. Though designing for durability has always been at our core since day one, we believe these new design processes will help us take it one step further.
This shows how easy or hard it is to recycle a piece at the end of its life. We do this with the help of our recycling and sorting partnerships to make sure we’re using the most relevant methods. Usually, pure fabrics made from well-known fibres, such as cotton, are the easiest to recycle, as there are many different recyclers who are able to do this. Blended fabrics and materials with coatings can be harder to separate, so these are often considered less recyclable.
Here we use our Material Environmental Benchmark to measure whether the materials used are made from safe, renewable or recycled inputs. This combines both the fibres sourced and the process used to turn them into fabrics. We also take into consideration methods used to create the finished piece. For example, if a piece features a printed design, we will consider if it has been printed more sustainably – such as digitally.