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Decarbonised dressing and the Store of the Future

By Don-Alvin Adegeest

15 Dec 2021


Image: A Circular Store

New boutique A Circular Store in Brooklyn, New York, is not your average thrift store. While it is true that all the fashion is pre-owned, the merchandising speaks of something more modern and conceptual. Not the usual vintage shop cramped with rails of aromatic worn clothes, but rather of thoughtful curation and attention to detail. With its in-house alterations, mending and tailoring services, any garment can practically be made-to-measure. It is the ultimate upcycling destination, founded in partnership with Madewell and thredUP.

Image: A Circular Store

Store of the future

It could also be the store of the future, one where decarbonised dressing is the equivalent to the fashion industry legitimately fighting against climate change.

The carbon cost of making new garments will forever have a negative environmental impact that can’t be eliminated or ‘neutralised’ simply because of the natural resources required and processes in the supply chain. Over 100 billion garments are produced each year, add up their use of land, water, chemicals, biodiversity loss and greenhouse gas emissions produced and the picture becomes alarmingly clear. If the fashion industry stopped making clothing there would be plenty to wear for global populations for decades to come.

As the carbon cost of a garment becomes increasingly significant to consumers, alternatives to fast fashion are being sought. Brands with little or no impact are gaining more attention and retail is evolving, even if the pace is relatively slow.

Cleaner textiles

While the elimination of global production and halting garment manufacturing is not a viable option, there are programmes for collaboration amongst brands, textile factories, and others to create cleaner textiles. Clean by Design, created by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and now a programme of the Apparel Impact Institute, is a turnkey green supply chain programme which improves the energy, water, and chemicals usage in textile mills. Its programmes deliver a 10-20 percent reduction in energy, water and chemicals usage on average.

At A Circular Store, stats about fashion waste and steps for creating a circular wardrobe create impactful touchpoints throughout the store and also make for Instagrammable moments. “For too long, the fashion industry has operated with a linear, disposable model. We’ve designed a store to represent the future of fashion — a circular future in which retailers design for longevity and consumers shop with resale in mind. Our hope is that visitors will leave inspired and armed with the knowledge they need to take a more sustainable approach to their wardrobes. We believe that retail and resale working together is a necessary next step in achieving our vision of a circular future for fashion, “ says Erin Wallace, VP of Integrated Marketing at thredUP.

Image: A Circular Store
A Circular Store