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Considering the concept of circular fashion was first coined and put to use in Sweden, it’s fitting that the Stockholm-based sportswear label Filippa K has embarked on a two-year research project with Mistra Future Fashion to zero in on sustainability.

Leading the “Circular Design Speeds” initiative are Prof. Rebecca Earley and Dr. Kate Goldsworthy of the University of the Arts London. Filippa K, the founder of the company that bears her name, also serves on the board of directors at Mistra Future Fashion, a cross-disciplinary research program that was started in 2011 and is primarily funded by Mistra with a total budget upwards of $112 million. It is hosted by RISE Research Institutes of Sweden in collaboration with 12 research partners and more than 30 industry partners.

Designing with a purpose and for longevity are among the principles of circular fashion, which was coincidentally first used by two different Swedish groups around the same time in 2014. Anna Brismar, head and owner of the Swedish consultancy firm Green Strategy, referred to the term in June 2014 during an early planning meeting for a sustainable fashion event in Stockholm. H&M’s sustainability staff used the term internally at its Stockholm headquarters in May 2014, and for the first time officially in July 2014 during a public presentation at “Almedalen week” on Gotland in the south of Sweden. That was also the year when the notion of a circular economy became more prevalent in the political agendas in Sweden and elsewhere in Europe.

Filippa K’s sustainability director Elin Larsson said, “We want to be able to enjoy fashion and update our wardrobes in a conscious way. That is what the project — Circular Design Speeds — is about. We will develop circular garments where all environmental impacts and aspects during a full life cycle are taken into account and optimized based on a pre-determined life length.”

This pilot program will explore the life cycles of products, focusing on the speed of use and maximizing fabric value retention in products. Filippa K aims to develop a process that will make the company more sustainable by 2030. Participants are working on the premise that the future of fashion will be dependent on a new definition of “fast” and “slow” fashion, enabling brands to offer more sustainable products and services to support more conscious consumer consumption. The idea to have a multispeed wardrobe with a mix of short-life and long-life garments, new and secondhand, rented or borrowed, is realistic, practical and sustainable, according to organizers. That is why the life cycle and speed of use of products is central in this project.

In the U.S. another sustainability effort will be held Saturday night in New York at 15 Orchard Street by the environmentally group Esabitchin’. Zero Waste Daniel, A New York Affair and Rosina Mae will be among the 12 designers that will sell their designs at “Conscious Fashion Exhibition & Pop-up.”

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