2019 has been a pivotal year for the apparel and textile industry and The Renewal Workshop. When we started the company in 2016, we had no idea that the world would change so fast. Over the last 10 years incremental changes have been made in sustainable apparel, but in the last 4 years the industry has shifted substantially. Four years ago, only a few people could answer the question, “What is Circular?” Today there are people throughout the industry who are experts on Circular, have Circular in their job titles, and are managing Circular Businesses. This is a good sign of progress.
Looking back over the past year, we have identified a few key milestones that tell us that the economy is going circular.
Business as usual cannot be maintained.
The linear model of business has led to the carbon crisis we are experiencing. The impact of climate change on communities and economies has gained more attention than ever before. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released their sobering report outlining the impact of an increase of 1.5˚C on our planet. The demand for action was taken to the streets with climate marches, strikes, and commitments. Apparel companies started committing to science-based targets to meet the standards of the Paris Agreement. Companies have begun to see that Circular is a tool that can be used to address their carbon impact. By utilizing existing products, rather than creating new ones, to generate revenue they will have a strong strategy for addressing the use of new resources to create products.
Circular appeared for the first time in other areas of the industry.
Two entities well known for education and innovation adopted Circular to their agendas. GreenBiz, well known as a hub for sustainable news and event, launched Circularity 19. The event was a three day conference in Minneapolis which focused on what Circular looks like across various sectors, as well as the opportunities and the challenges we all face as we shift our economy.
MIT SOLVE started to provide resources to the world’s leading innovators. In 2019, Circular Economy was added as a track because Circular Business models positively contribute to the livelihoods of people and our health of the planet. The Renewal Workshop was awarded one of the solutions.
The use of new business models increased in 2019.
Some these models have aspects of Circular, including an increase in product-life extension with businesses like TheRealReal, Tradesey, ThredUp, as well as rental models like Rent The Runway.
The Renewal Workshop was able to catalyze more brands into the Circular Business model. The North Face Renewed expanded its offering to customers, additionally The Renewal Workshop launched new brands to our first movers, Toad&Co, Nau, prAna, First Mile, Indigenous, Outerknown, Pangaia and Coyuchi. We added our first luxury fashion brand Mara Hoffman. Eagle Creek joined Osprey as we expanded the product offering to bags. And just recently we launched Carhartt to our partners. New brands are in the works and will be launched in 2020.
Resolve to Become Renewed
Add it to your resolutions for 2020, to become a Renewed consumer. Support our Brand partners (a current list can be found here) and any other apparel and textile brand that is offering truly circular options.
We are optimistic for the New Year. The momentum to change is aligned with the need to shift our economy towards one that can sustain us all.
The Renewal Workshop Co-Founder, Jeff Denby, presented at Pure London on Design Decisions that Work in a Circular Economy: Planning for Repair, Re-use and Recycling.