Fashion Threads: Report speaks Circular Fashion from a Global South lens

REGENERATE Fashion, LLC April/2021

Fashion Threads is the first report that analyzed circular economy concepts for the fashion industry, from-and-for the Global South, and we are very proud that its launch – both in Portuguese and English – had a great impact! 

The project was funded by the Laudes Foundation, and during 12+ months Regenerate worked together with our research partners Modefica and FGVces, in the development of this work.

Fashion Threads: Report Visualization

The report evaluates the impacts of production, use, and disposal of the three most used fibers in the fashion industry: cotton, viscose and polyester. 

It describes how these fibers’ flow in the national production system, and builds alternative scenarios for positive impacts on society.

The technical analysis of the socio-environmental impacts of each fiber aims to stimulate alternative logics of production and consumption, which reduce negative externalities.

A unique circularity analysis methodology 

To get to the conclusions about the fibers circularity, the report proposed six theoretical pillars which served as a baseline for the evaluation.

The pillars were defined after an analysis of the circular schools of thought from the global north, through a “Latin American lens” and identified parallels, as well as concepts and actors which are endemic to the Brazilian reality.

The main circular concepts brought by Ellen Macarthur Foundation, and the sustainable supply chain expert Catherine Weetman, were mapped (image below) and studied in depth. 

Main circularity concepts infographic. (Page 44)

The goal of the mapping was to draw common areas and develop concepts that have not yet been identified for a circular system in Brazil. Among the six pillars found, three are related to social indicators, based on the externalities present on the Global South. 

You can read more about our innovative social approach for circularity, on this last post.

For the further analysis of the fiber’s life cycle’s, the Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) framework was applied, and 31 studies were used as references. Of them, eight were national (26%) and 23 international (74%). Cotton is the most studied fibre, covered in all selected articles, while polyester and viscose appear in 35% of the consulted studies.

Main environmental impacts from a viscose garment’s life cycle. (Page 84)

Some insights and conclusions 

The study presents a variety of infographics, which illustrate the team’s work to map the value chains involved – from a macro scale perspective, to the specific phases of each fiber production.

The study acknowledges that textile suppliers, retailers, consumers, recyclers, cooperatives, and the government, are all main actors of interest and agents for a circular transformation of the fashion system.

Mapping of the circular textile network. (Page 43)

It concluded that the impact of fibers can be improved through: public policies that encourage family-run and ecological agriculture practice; strengthening waste management systems (with an emphasis on the informal sector) and implementation of the National Solid Waste Policy (PNRS) on the textile sector; and generation of technical jobs.

Scenarios for circularity – Agro-ecological Cotton. (Page 135)

Within the overall scenarios for circularity that were brought up, Fashion Threads suggests that products are designed for recyclability – with emphasis on mono-material and disassembly design practices, based on the fact that currently, in Brazil, only materials that are 100% cotton, are used as input in recycled products for fashion retail. 

Another investigation revealed in the report, showed that only in the Brás garment production region in São Paulo, an average of 45 tons of textile waste are collected per day. 

Design of Processes and Circular Flows were also highlighted, in order to structure business models for reverse logistics, to enhance Pre and Post-consumer recycling, as well as donation streams and second-hand consumption.

In addition to circular strategies for design and business models, the report also points to other gaps, such as the absence of national LCA studies for the production of viscose, the lack of information about the cutting and sewing stages, and the need for retail companies to add the costs of the circularity solutions to their products.

Life Cycle of textile fibres: alternative production systems. (Page 118)

Finally, we understand that Fashion Threads represents a big step towards the circularity of Brazilian fashion, considering the particular needs of this big country and the local industry, as well as the social scenario.

In addition, we can affirm that Fashion Threads outputs will be essential for companies and professionals, as sustainable practices evolve to make objective decisions in combating the climate crisis and inequality.

Contact us to have a conversation about the services offered by Regenerate, with the basis on Fashion Threads methodology!

Check out these and several other insights by downloading Fashion Threads report!

FASHION THREADS: Systemic Perspectives for Circularity

FIOS DA MODA: Perspectiva Sistêmica Para Circularidade

Authors: Marina Colerato | Juliana Aguilera | Larissa Roviezzo | Melissa O de Léon | Juliana Picoli | Annelise Vendramini | Thais Camolesi

Download FASHION THREADS in english

Ler FIOS DA MODA em português

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