Slowing Down Fashion: A Look At Circular Economy and Sustainability in Luxury Fashion

In a famous speech at the World Economic Forum in 2019, Greta Thunberg said that we must act “as if the house is on fire, because it is”; and the fashion industry is responsible for some of the flames too, being the second largest polluter in the world (second only to the oil industry). The disastrous environmental impact of fashion has been widely condemned, and it is becoming more and more apparent that significant changes must be made soon if we fear pushing the limits of the earth to a point of no return.

The pandemic has been a contingent factor in pushing luxury giants into the pits and making everyone revaluate their choices. The sales went down 30-40% globally, leading to overproduction and, consequently, more waste. Since dumping of waste and pollution have been some of the biggest negative impacts of fashion, luxury brands are committing to sustainability, inculcating it in its different stages of production and processes. For example, Nordstrom launched a resale shop called See You Tomorrow with products from high-end brands that were returned due to some damage and were subsequently repaired before reselling. Instead of leading to dumping of used clothes and accessories, this would bring them around to the market again, reducing waste and creating a circular economy.

The concept of circular economy is quite new in the world of fashion. Both the terms seem to be diametrically opposite to each other; after all, fashion is about change and circular economy is about repetition. However, in the recent years, many big designers and luxury brands have concentrated their efforts in making it possible. It is an effective and sustainable way to create high quality, durable and timeless products in a way that reduces waste, carbon emissions and pollution. Big names like Net-a-Porter, LVMH, Prada, Burberry, etc., have committed to this model, making the circular economy of luxury fashion worth $25 billion with a projection of doubling in the next five years.

In a world of fast fashion, sustainability might just be the answer to slow it down.

By Anshita Bansal

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