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Apparel Circularity Advances With Two More Brands on Board

The apparel industry, often maligned for being a major contributor to the waste stream, has made strides toward quelling its adverse contribution by sourcing less impactful materials and adopting more environmentally friendly manufacturing methods.

Now two major brands–Guess and The North Face–are establishing programs to keep goods out of landfills and increase the longevity of their products. Both companies said the new programs are aimed at making contributions to the circular economy by recycling and reusingtextile and apparel products.

Guess is teaming up with I:Collect (I:CO), which collects, sorts, reuses and recycles used apparel and footwear, to launch a wardrobe recycling program. The program, called Resourced, launched in California on Monday and will expand to all of North America by the end of 2018 and globally by 2020. Backed by the company’s chain-wide in-store, digital and online marketing campaign, Guess said it is part of its mission to encourage men and women everywhere to recycle their wardrobe and give it new life.

In exchange for bringing in a minimum of five pieces of clothing or footwear to any local Guess, Factory, G by Guess or Marciano store in California starting Monday, customers will receive 15 percent off any purchase in-store or online until July 1, 2019. Guess will promote Resourced among customers and the community within 63 stores in California across four brands under the Guess Inc. umbrella, with messaging in store-front windows, e-mail marketing, in-store signage, mobile marketing and on shop.guess.com and guess.com/resourced.

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The aim, for Guess in its partnership with I:CO, is to reduce textile waste and help create a circular fashion system where discarded clothing and shoes can be reprocessed and used over again in a continuous closed loop production cycle. Through I:CO’s innovative retail take-back system and global infrastructure, wearable items get a new life as secondhand goods. Unwearable items go into new products like cleaning cloths or recycled into fibers for products such as insulation and new textiles, Guess noted.

Guess’ commitment to circular fashion is part of the sportswear, denim and accessory company’s sustainability plan published in its Sustainability Report last year. Since then, Guess has joined the Better Cotton Initiative and has issued a responsible sourcing policy on rayon and other cellulosic materials to protect forests and local communities.

The North Face recently rolled out The North Face Renewed collection of refurbished products for consumers who want to access affordable gear and reduce their environmental impact. All Renewed items, which are sourced from returned, defective or damaged apparel, have been thoroughly inspected, cleaned and refurbished to The North Face quality and performance standards. The company, a division of VF Corp., said the program furthers its mission to inspire more people to live a life of exploration, helping them to take an active role in choosing a high-quality product that also reduces our overall footprint.

According to The North Face, data from the Environmental Protection Agency shows 85 percent of textiles go to landfills every year, and clothing, shoes and outdoor gear are often part of this. As such, Renewed moves The North Face Renewed from a more traditional, linear business model into a circular model.

“At The North Face, we take a holistic approach to sustainability,” James Rogers, director of sustainability, said. “As we address the impacts of our products over their entire lifecycle, re-commerce is an important next step in opening new markets and minimizing our impact on the planet. We are furthering our sustainability goals without sacrificing durability or technical standards. Ultimately, as we work to scale Renewed, we will be proving a larger, circular model for the industry.”

The North Face Renewed products will range from the brand’s Summit Series to the well-known Denali jackets and other popular collections. As the company is currently just piloting the program, Renewed is only offered online and not yet in stores.

The North Face said it is committed to continuously improving the environmental performance of products, from the Cali Wool Beanie made from Climate Beneficial Wool, to the recently announced Bottle Source Collection that turns plastic bottles from the waste streams of National Parks into T-shirts with a purpose. The North Face also uses recycled materials in many core products like the Reaxion and Surgent lines, as well as the Denali jacket.