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These Are the Startups Leading the Apparel Circularity Movement

Answering the apparel industry’s call for more sustainability and circularity, Texworld USA is focused on highlighting the companies in the space that are providing it.

And the opening day of the trade show at the Javitz Center in New York City Monday saw a slew of attendees stopping by the Resource Row section of the show floor to find out more about bettering the apparel industry.

FabScrap was one such resource. The nonprofit is providing textile recycling for fashion and industry companies in New York City. Companies that sign up for the FabScrap service simply have to fill up bags of excess fabric or scraps, schedule a pickup, and FabScrap will collect it. From there, the collected fabric is resold as thrift for a very low cost or turned into insulation.

The company’s founder, Jessica Schreiber, got the idea for the business during her time overseeing clothing recycling at the Department of Sanitation, when brands looking to do the right thing sought her out to recycle their fabric waste and she couldn’t take it, as Sanitation can only collect residential waste.

“You don’t always find brands that are looking for the sustainable option, so it was hard to tell them no,” Schreiber said. “It felt like a problem I knew how to solve based on Sanitation.”

Schreiber took the 30 or so brands that had reached out to her initially, and they became the working group that formed FabScrap in 2016. The goal, she said, is to divert textile waste entirely.

[Read more about the industry’s efforts to become more responsible: What It’s Really Going to Take for Sustainability to Work]

In a similar vein, Queen of Raw is taking deadstock from large companies and reselling it to independent designers—both to curb waste and to provide new options for raw materials.

“It’s e-commerce for sourcing,” said creative director Corbin Chase, who added that all goods are available for see now, buy now; designers can buy as much or as little as they need; and everything is shipped in short order.

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The goal for the startup, which has now reached 25,000 members, is to get retailers, factories and mills to stop sitting on excess stock and turn a profit in the process, and to provide designers lower minimum, lower priced options for fabric.

Queen of Raw recently added 12 styles of Mara Hoffman fabric to its site after the designer reached out seeking to offload the excess in a non-wasteful way.

“You could buy 1 yard of Mara Hoffman fabric,” Corbin said, which is interesting for designers who wouldn’t have otherwise had access to the fabric. And prices start at just $4.50 a yard. “The ultimate goal is to turn everyone who’s a designer into a supplier as well.”

Bringing its own contribution to the apparel industry improvement movement, BrightLabel is focused on making digital labels that tell these circularity and transparency stories.

The startup offers a software platform that integrates digital labels attached to garments to allow brands to tell the stories of their products. Consumers can scan QR codes in the label to find out where a garment was manufactured, where the fiber was sourced and what types of eco-friendly certifications it holds.

BrightLabel’s latest effort is a partnership with Lenzing Tencel, that will allow certain brands using the sustainable fiber in their products to be able to communicate with consumers what that fiber is all about and how it’s making a difference in the industry.

“We’re creating a new standard for what product labeling provides the consumer,” BrightLabel co-founder and CEO Bruce Thomson said. The idea is to build customer engagement and the ultimate hope is that the BrightLabel logo will serve as an immediate suggestion that the brand using it is committed to transparency.