About fashion upcycling: Why My brand should start upcycling initiatives
As society transitions into the new decade, the earth’s climate crisis continues to worsen and the world remains on the brink of an ecological collapse. Climate change is continuing to accelerate with global carbon emissions rising with no end in sight. In 2019, 37 billion tons of carbon dioxide were released into the atmosphere. The fashion industry remains one of the most polluting industries in the world. Small steps are being made to make the fashion industry a more circular and sustainable system as a whole but more transformational action is necessary in order for there to be measurable changes. In the UK, consumers buy more clothes per person than any other country in Europe. More than half of the clothes that are made are thrown away in under a year from when they were made.
Every year in the UK the volume of textile products that end up in landfill is estimated to accumulate to 1.1 million tonnes and on average UK citizens wear their garments ten times before it is disposed of. With society continuing to consume an increasing amount of clothes, it is estimated that approximately £400 billion of value will be lost every year because of people's failure to recycle or rewear their clothing.
Upcycling clothes helps to fix fashion waste. It is a way in which clothes can be made with minimal consumption of raw materials and energy while giving fabric scraps, cuttings, and production remnants that would usually be thrown away the possibility to be made into something new.
Fashion trends are changing every season and clothes are going out of style faster than ever before. Upcycling offers a way in which clothes can be repurposed to match current trends. In order to change the future of fashion, the current expectations for the continual production of new must be replaced in some ways with the upcycling of old. Many argue that upcycling is even more environmentally friendly than recycling because it uses existing waste materials while eliminating the need to consume new materials. It also reduces energy and waste usage.
how does upcycling help the enviornment?
three definitions of upcycling:
1. Upcycling is the process in which unwanted textiles are made into new garments of higher quality by adding or changing the features of the garment.
2. Upcycling offers new value to materials that have been thrown away and are not being used.
3. Upcycling repurposes items that are of low value (I.e turning a scarf into a skirt).
Proper supply chain management is necessary in order to have an optimally functioning sustainable fashion SME, regardless if they participate in upcycling initiatives. Upcycling programs are a great way for fashion brands to get closer to a closed-loop supply chain. However, small companies will usually have limited financial resources and manpower and therefore, must find clever ways to optimise the resources they do have. Successful supply chain management of these sustainable micro fashion brands must focus on helping the brand remain competitive within the market, as well as making sure that they are maintaining their eco-friendly values.
The linear take-make disposal model is still utilised by most brands but in order to achieve a sustainable closed-loop supply chain, environmental and economic advantages should be taken into consideration. Three necessary steps are needed to accomplish sustainable supply chain management. These include: collection, sorting, and redesigning/upcycling.
However slowly, fashion businesses are moving towards a more sustainable future. Specifically with supply chain management there is a noticeable change. Brands are learning that the clothes that they make can sometimes be returned to be made into something else that is of equal or greater value.
traditional supply chain management vs. a take-back closed-loop supply chain
One major issue facing fashion SMEs is related to whether they can create innovative businesses. This is a challenge for most SMEs because of their size and the limitations of their resources. Sustainable fashion brands that are trying to incorporate successful upcycling initiatives must strive to be innovative or they could risk failing to remain competitive within the market and they will not grow sustainably. It is important to hire employees that have the skills required to run SMEs to allow the brand to be competitive within their innovative upcycling programs, increasing profitability and productivity.
Recent studies have shown that at least one-fifth of fashion SMEs in the UK believe that Brexit will threaten the success of their business. The political uncertainty of Brexit is stressful for fashion SMEs who cannot figure out how the UK leaving the EU will affect their brand. With Brexit starting at the end of 2020, SMEs are concerned about reduced business growth, lower levels of capital investment, and less access to financial assistance from the EU. That, in addition to political uncertainty which is affecting consumer spending, will also potentially negatively impact the prosperity of UK-based fashion SMEs.
45% of UK fashion SMEs said that one of their top worries and challenges were new technologies. One of the main reasons for this is that fashion SMEs have lower budgets which make it difficult for them to have an online presence. Their lower budgets make it hard for them to gain attention from shoppers compared to bigger high street brands who can pay to have access to advanced technologies and larger online campaigns.
current challenges facing SMEs in the UK
closed-loop supply chain and upcycling