”We need to establish good logistic systems for collecting and sorting old clothes and textiles”
On the current state of, and the good examples within, circularity
November 15, 2022
Who are you?
— My name is Linnéa Magnusdotter, I’m co-founder of XV Production, a design studio and small manufacturer located in Borås, Sweden, and run the company together with Lovisa Nolander and Evelina Ingvarsson. We are the new generation micro-factory, a visionary studio that seeks to inspire industry people, as well as individuals, to understand that it is possible to create and produce fashion in a circular, sustainable, and transparent way, without compromising the environment. Our largest driving force is to extend the lifespan of already existing materials and clothing, through remake and upcycling, meaning that we take care of different textile waste materials in order to make something new out of it. It can be everything from deadstock fabrics and production faults, to second-hand products that get a new life. Today, we have worked with a variety of well-known Swedish fashion brands, such as Filippa K, Rave Review, and Jade Cropper, Magnusdotter explains. She continues:
— We also run XV Atelier, our own fashion brand, focusing on working with new and creative circular solutions to challenging the traditional industry. We work close to new research in the area to find new solutions in which we can add new value to waste materials and by doing so close the loop. Our latest collection is made from old fishing nets, where we want to highlight the littering of the oceans. We’ve recently also designed and produced a leather coat using material from car seats in old Volvos, where we wanted to highlight the ownership relation to clothes. We work close to new research in the area to find new solutions in which we can add new value to waste materials and by doing so close the loop.
— We work closely with Science Park Borås, for instance with The Transparency Project, together with clothing company Gina Tricot and Paper Tale. There, we wanted to tackle the challenge to produce totally traceable and transparent garments in Sweden. Together with Paper Tale, a Malmö-based startup providing blockchain technology, we were able to trace every single moment in the production chain of the garments, from raw material to finished product. Through an NFC chip sewn into each of the garments, we could trace the whole journey of each individual clothing piece in the collection, providing a better view of its ecological, economical, and social footprints. The chip is also connected to an app, where you can read information about the raw materials, transportation and the manufacturer. The collection was produced in-house at our micro-factory and during the sewing process, we used sensors to measure the energy consumption of each individual piece, as well as the energy consumption for the whole collection. Even though this category of transparency work is important, transparency also includes the social perspective. Here, this type of technology can be of great use to make the manufacturing workers more visible to the end consumer. Who really made your clothes and how were their working conditions?
What’s the current state of circularity in the fashion and textile industry?
— There’s a clear common interest in reselling design classics when it comes to, for instance, furniture and handbags, and I don’t think that clothes are so far from that anymore. More and more fashion brands are starting to see an increasing demand for reuse of their clothes in the second-hand market and they now see value in taking back their old products and reselling them in their own channels. Nudie Jeans is a great example of a repair service that tends to work out. If you really love your jeans, you’ll want to repair them. The repair even gives them a certain characteristic look, says Magnusdotter. She continues:
— When working with remake and upcycling, we try to save clothes by giving them a new chance. Old second-hand blankets can become a fashionable coat, or a pair of pants can become a stylish skirt. The fashion brands that we produce for today have already integrated remake and upcycling into their business model. Take Rave Review and Hodakova — who both presented their latest collections at Paris Fashion Week this fall. They’re also leading brands in the Swedish fashion community right now, which shows that circularity is here to stay. The difficulties with circularity partially lie in the consumer’s value perception of clothes. If we want to keep up a circular flow, we need to rethink how we design the clothes in the first place. The clothes will need to be of good quality from the start, which enables a more circular financial model as well. We need to stop looking at old clothes as waste and see them more as an asset.
We often hear how difficult it is to scale circularity. Do you agree?
— I don’t think that it is a question of difficulty, but rather a question of time. To be able to scale circularity, the first step is that we need to establish good logistic systems for collecting and sorting old clothes and textiles. We have a huge amount of old clothing, but we need more resources in order to streamline the logistics system so that the old clothes won’t be sent to a third country, forming mountains of waste. It will certainly take some time for this to be established, but it will get there sooner than later.
— Another big improvement opportunity when it comes to circularity is that there are clothes to take into account in several industries, not only the clothing that we own ourselves and wear day to day. For example, there are working clothes which come from the communal sector and from businesses. These are clothes made of good quality that can be used for a long time. The problem with this workwear category is that the clothes are often bound to procurement agreements and carry industry logos, which makes them difficult to reuse. Also, they are often overproduced. Great volumes of new, good-quality clothing get sent to a shelf in a warehouse or — in worse cases — to a waste disposal plant. Yes, it happens in Sweden as well. Vividye is a company located in Gothenburg that specializes in removable textile printing. This, I think, provides a great opportunity to scale the circularity of workwear, if they, for example, could be reused with different logos.
”Why not rent your vacation wardrobe like you rent your vacation accommodation?”
And how shall companies work to scale their circularity? Can you share any dos and don’ts?
— I would say to start looking at your inventory. Are there any defective products or is there an overstock somewhere? Usually, we get business requests from fashion brands that have received a faulty delivery and wonder if we can help them find a solution. Our in-house concept will then guide them through the whole process of creating a product from reused materials. From the design process and product development to the production and final product. Another thing for fashion brands to consider — if you ask me — is to develop and offer effective repair services. The customers will feel greater trust in the brand, as well as a higher willingness to take care of the clothes. Rental services are also an interesting way to gain company growth. Why not rent your vacation wardrobe like you rent your vacation accommodation?
We also see development when it comes to legislation, from the EU and others. How do you thinkthis will affect the fashion industry?
— The fashion companies need to start taking more responsibility for their production, asking themselves about the working conditions for the factory staff. Are they fair? But also taking the huge overstocks more seriously. It’s time for fashion brands to start taking a higher responsibility for their emissions, waste, and working conditions in the factories. The most important step to increase the textile industry’s circularity work is to understand the importance of a circular economy, in which we can take care of already existing textile material, says Magnusdotter. She adds:
— A circular society is the only option for us as mankind, and we need to start to readjust and redirect after it. The faster we adjust, the more comfortable the lives of our future generations will be.
— A great way to start for companies working to scale their circularity is to look at their inventory. Are there any defective products or is there an overstock somewhere?
— Another thing for fashion brands to consider, is to develop and offer effective repair services. The customers will feel greater trust in the brand, as well as a higher willingness to take care of the clothes. Rental services are also an interesting way to gain company growth.
— The most important step to increase the textile industry’s circularity work is to understand the importance of a circular economy.