LONDON — Circular shopping experiences and products should continue to be a top priority for the industry despite the impacts of the coronavirus, according to a new report by Cleantech Group, a market research consultancy.
In its latest report, which focuses on circular fashion, Cleantech highlights the ongoing impact of textiles production as well as the potential of the re-commerce market.
“Everyone’s more and more interested in the circular economy and circular fashion and how to apply that to changing business models to facilitate more circular models of consumption,” said Holly Stower, resources and environment analyst at Cleantech.
According to the report, fashion accounts for almost 10 percent of GHG (greenhouse gas) emissions; 20 percent of wastewater and 13 million tons of textile waste every year. Only 40 percent of fashion merchandise is being recycled or reused, when there is the potential for 95 percent of fashion to have a second life. While she said that the impact of COVID-19 was not taken into account for this report, she believes the market will recover in the long term.
“I think that in the long term there will be a recovery and people will trust the rental market again, but people offering these services [need to be] taking extra cleaning measures,” she said.
Rental seems to be the way forward, and more retailers are hopping on board. In October 2019, H&M trialed its first rental service and Gearo has raised $100,000 for its outdoor rental kit in November.
Other key players have also raised money for their rental ventures including Vinted, Hurr Collective, My Wardrobe HQ and Depop. The latter notched 13 million users in June 2019.
The repair market has grown simultaneously with the clothes rental one. Companies such as Clothes Doctor in the U.K. and The Renewal Workshop in the U.S., which has raised $5.5 million in a Series A funding to expand into Europe, show a real demand for clothing repair services.
The next focus for the industry is on sustainable fibers and textiles with large retailers such as H&M partnering with pioneers in the space like Renewcell, which transforms waste into reusable fibers.
However, as the crisis has forced many businesses to grind to a halt, Stower said the current state of affairs is only temporary. She said the work and research is being postponed, rather than canceled. “I think there’s good faith in the sustainable fashion industry that trials and test runs will continue afterward,” she said.