Part visual guide, part circularity calculator. Say hello to the design tool that's closing the loop on fashion.
Circularity. You hear it everywhere these days, but do you know why everyone's going on about it? We'll give you a hint: clothing production has doubled in the last 15 years while usage has dropped by 40%. That's got to change.
At its core, circularity is about making sure precious resources never end up as waste. That means wearing your clothes more, caring for them, and eventually recycling. But more than 70% of the environmental impact from products is determined at the design stage. By designing with circularity in mind, we can create a powerful shift towards a more sustainable fashion industry. Enter: the Circulator, our new product development tool - soon available for the entire industry to use.
Here's how it works: users are first guided through which materials, components, and design strategies are best suited for their product based on their product's purpose. Will the piece see a lot of wear and tear? Should it be more durable or more recyclable? Reflecting on the frequency, lifespan, activity, and access model of the product will guide designers in all design choices. Then, all the components - from material to fabric treatments - are scored according to their environmental impact, durability, and recyclability. The product also receives a total Circular Product Score, which shows where it can be tweaked to make the product even more circular.
By empowering our teams with this easy-to-use tool, we aim for all our products to be designed for circularity by 2025. This means they'll be used more, made to be made again, and made from safe and recycled or renewable input.
We believe circularity starts at the drawing board. Producing less is one part of the solution - but there are other big changes needed to address the fashion industry's environmental impact. We need to design differently. And we need to collaborate. That's why we're making the Circulator available for any brand, designer, or product development team to use, learn and improve. This is the beginning, not the final solution, so the Circulator will continuously be updated and evolved as we learn more. It's our invitation to encourage the whole industry to join forces in using our planet's resources more responsibly and cautiously.
The Circulator will launch within 2022. Check out the demo version here.
Step 1: Envision your product
First, think of your customer and a product you wish to design.
Step 2: Define Product Purpose Category
Got a product in mind? Great! Time to define its purpose. Will it be accessed through rental or retail? Is it a basic T-shirt or a cocktail dress? By defining how the product will be used, for how long and how often, it will then be put into one of three Product Purpose Categories: light, mid or extensive. This category is important because it will influence any future choices regarding materials and design strategies.
Step 3: Decide components
It's all in the details, literally. All the product's components, like the fabric, lining and buttons, will be assessed and scored on their environmental impact, durability and recyclability. These will be prioritised differently depending on the Product Purpose Category.
Step 4: Select design strategies
After the product's been put into a purpose category and all components are chosen, it's time to select design strategies. You may, for instance, wish to design for physical durability, waste avoidance or increased usage. There are six different design strategies within this tool, and a product can be designed using several.
Step 5: Get a Circular Product Score
Once all design choices have been made, the item receives a total Circular Product Score. You can then identify what actions can be taken to improve the score.
Click here to learn more about the scores and different design strategies.
Did you know?
We've developed the Circulator together with the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, a non-profit organisation working towards creating a circular economy.