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Bestseller Channels Bangladesh Cotton Waste Into New Fashion

Weeks after helping launch an initiative to plot Bangladesh’s circular future, Bestseller laid out its own plans for a closed-loop system within the sourcing powerhouse.

The Danish fashion retailer, which also owns the Jack & Jones, Mamalicious and Vero Moda brands, has teamed up with GMS Composite Knitting, its biggest jersey supplier in Bangladesh, to give its textile cutting scraps a second life.

“We want to explore how we can keep the cotton waste in Bangladesh and set up workable circularity systems there,” Camilla Skjønning Jørgensen, Bestseller’s sustainable materials and innovation manager, said in a statement. “Keeping the waste in Bangladesh, even with the same supplier, benefits both economic and environmental perspectives, which we value immensely.”

Bestseller's closed-loop initiative looks to give textile cutting scraps a second life.

To develop the new yarns, Bestseller teamed up with Cyclo, a Bangladeshi firm on a mission to responsibly recycle hundreds of tons of cotton fabric discarded daily as cutting waste. By eliminating the dyeing process, the retailer said, Cyclo’s mechanical recycling process also greatly reduces the amount of water, energy, chemicals and carbon emissions.

“Mechanically recycling fabric scraps to make [fiber] has been around a long time,” Mustafain Munir, Cyclo’s founder and director, said in a statement. “However, this [fiber] has traditionally been downcycled and the resulting yarn written off as too ‘low quality’ for the fashion industry. Our goal was to prove to the world that there is a tremendous opportunity to up-cycle these [fibers] back into fashion.”

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So far, Bestseller says it has approved its Selected, Name It and Vero Moda brands for participation in the project, with the first collections to be ready in Spring 2022.

Bestseller has approved its Selected, Name It and Vero Moda brands for participation in the closed-loop cotton recycling project

Late last month, the Global Fashion Agenda (GFA) launched the Circular Fashion Partnerships. Led by the GFA, the initiative marshals the expertise of a slew of stakeholders—including Bestseller, H&M, Group, OVS, P4G, Reverse Resources and the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association—to channel Bangladesh’s post-production waste into the creation of new products.

The project, which will run until the end of 2021, will consist of two parts, beginning with mapping waste streams and ending with finding scalable and tangible solutions for reincorporating cutting scraps and excess stock into the value chain.

“The alignment of ambitions and actions makes this project a great match for Bestseller, as we need to make sure that waste is regarded as a valuable resource for brands and suppliers,” Jørgensen said. “Our ultimate ambition is to become circular by design. So far, the fashion industry has lacked the scalability possibilities and the innovations to reach those goals, but at Bestseller we’re working hard and investing heavily to get there as soon as possible.”

Bestseller, with French luxury group Kering, also recently helped develop Fashion for Good’s Viscose Traceability Project, which will employ blockchain technology from TextileGenesis to trace the material from fibers to finished goods. Announced Dec. 1, the initiative tapped three Canopy-rated “Green Shirt” viscose producers—Enka, Lenzing and Tangshan Sanyou—to supply the fibers, which will be spun, dyed, woven and then cut and sewn into eight garment styles provided by Bestseller and Kering.

The two companies, along with German e-tailer Zalando, will provide financial backing for the nine-month endeavor. Designed to reflect real-world complexities and various supply-chains scenarios, the Viscose Traceability Project will span eight countries.