Digitising the fashion sector - ie: introducing robotic automation production and AR/VR technology - will reduce inventory volume, marketing promotion waste and more.

Digitising the fashion sector - ie: introducing robotic automation production and AR/VR technology - will reduce inventory volume, marketing promotion waste and more.

A circular fashion economy could be a US$5trn opportunity, according to a new report, if it is centered on the reuse and recycling of all materials, elimination of waste and pollution, and environmental regeneration.

The 'Circular Fashion Report 2020 — Year Zero' compiled by a group of industry and academics including PwC, sustainable consultancy Anthesis, Rödl & Partner law firm, Startupbootcamp, ESSEC Business School, Wageningen University & Research, and circular fashion blockchain provider Lablaco, argues for a product-centric, rather than consumer-centric approach and notes the importance of adopting digital processes.

This, report authors note, will make fashion traceable, transparent and more sustainable for businesses, consumers and the environment.

The textile industry relies on mostly non-renewable resources: 98m tonnes in total per year including oil to manufacture synthetic fibres, fertilisers to grow cotton and chemicals to produce dye and finish fibres and textiles.

In a circular economy, waste and pollution are designed out of products and materials are kept in use and made from safe and recycled or renewable inputs.

A circular fashion industry, the report says, could be worth US$2.3bn more than it is currently ($3bn) in its "traditional, disconnected, linear" form.

Main takeaways:

  • Investing in rental and resale business models enabled by digital technologies, can offer promising opportunities to increase revenue streams per garment, and attract customers who have become increasingly environmentally and cost-conscious.
  • Combined with clothing collection, sorting, and recycling infrastructure, greater value circulation and effective use of resources can be attained, which would help lower the industry's burden on virgin resource consumption.
  • Digitising the fashion sector, ie: introducing robotic automation production and AR/VR technology,will reduce inventory volume, and marketing promotion waste. It also allows for transparency and traceability and optimisation of available resources, facilitation of the reuse of materials, authentication of products and ensures fair and sustainable trade.

The report also calls for the wider adoption of renewable and regenerative materials, renewable manufacturing and processing and end-of-life reinvention.

In addition, the authors state products should be designed to last, to be reused, recycled, or upcycled and call upon businesses to empower users with the necessary knowledge, tools, and services to maintain the physical and emotional appeal of products through resale, rental, swap, borrow, donate, share, repair, recycle and upcycle opportunities.

For businesses, the report urges reuse through digital products including the creation or utilisation of digital versions of products to minimise the use and transfer of physical products while facilitating the sales process of physical products with more efficiency.

To access the full report, click here.