Prominent fashion firms and retail technology players are stepping up to help drive the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s mission to promote a circular economy.
Last week, the U.K. non-profit announced that PVH Corp., Ralph Lauren, Inditex, Lacoste and Primark joined the foundation’s network as partners, solidifying a commitment to endorse the group’s goals and act as leaders in solving the industry’s sustainability challenges.
The companies will join strategic partner and key stakeholder H&M Group in working to advance the foundation’s Make Fashion Circular vision, which stipulates that apparel, footwear and accessories be built to last and retain their value, using safe, eco-friendly materials that are more easily repurposed, recycled or composted. The initiative’s goal is to eliminate fashion waste across the supply chain, as well as to keep products out of landfills.
The foundation’s fashion-related work began in 2017, drawing in industry leaders to work with cities, philanthropists, non-governmental organizations and innovators to develop a path toward circularity.
The group’s work thus far includes the Jeans Redesign project, which has allowed a number of global brands and producers, from Good American to Ganni, Frame, Wrangler, ReDone, Artistic Milliners, Cone Denim and Isko, among others, to bring more than half a million pairs of circular jeans to market. Traditional denim manufacturing relies heavily on resources like water and energy, while also making ample use of pesticides for cotton cultivation and chemicals during washing and finishing. These inefficiencies create adverse environmental impacts throughout the production process, and make it difficult to recycle or reuse the finished denim down the line.
The Jeans Redesign guidelines have prompted brands, mills and producers to reexamine denim-making processes with an eye toward circularity, and create a scalable blueprint for the industry to follow. The foundation’s newly minted partners, including Zara owner Inditex and Calvin Klein and Tommy Hilfiger parent PVH Corp., have participated in these efforts in the past, but will now take on a more strategic role in their advancement.
The MacArthur Foundation has also strengthened its roster with seven new member additions. Last week, it announced that retail technology platform Trove, which enables brands and businesses across the fashion sector to build out their own digital resale programs, had joined the organization as a member, promising to use its influence to impact the adoption of circular processes across the industry. The group helped launch an on-site re-commerce program for outdoor retailer REI in June, and has built out secondhand platforms for brands like Eileen Fisher, Levi’s and Patagonia.
The African Leadership University, skincare company Beiersdorf AG, kitchen manufacturer Howdens, pharmaceutical company Novartis, regenerative agriculture organization renature, and AI firm Zen Robotics also joined the network with the commitment to use their expertise to push for reform across their respective industries.