Enabling Circular Fashion

At Start Up Mix we’re accelerating the transition to a circular economy by empowering high-potentials to apply their talents to real challenges from organisations. 

What the Circular Fashion Games look like

About 25 changemakers came together in Eindhoven to start working on challenges from Schiphol, Amsterdam, Sympany, Vaude and Lenzing. Working at the inspiring location of SingularityU, they’ve taken their first steps in understanding circular economy, design thinking and their respective organisations’ challenges. They’ve come together from all over the world because they’re passionate about advancing sustainability and want to apply their talent to real challenges.

I’m sure you’re wondering what the Circular Fashion Games look like and who the crazy changemakers devoting their time and energy are. Luckily Nanette Hogervorst from Our World has been vlogging throughout the first bootcamp.

If you’re curious about why we’re organising these games, then read on.

Planetary limits require circular economy

Our linear economic model doesn’t account for planetary limits and finite resources. The waste-producing economy is depleting the planet’s resources and its resiliency to cope with this mining. We believe a circular economy is an answer to dealing with rising populations, increasing demands and waste production.

A circular economy develops products with the intent to be reused or create zero waste ánd views remaining residue as resources. The challenge is two-fold though. How to:

1. track and trace waste so we can use it as a resource?

2. build business models that foster circular products and services?

These challenges require a system overhaul. This means re-evaluating every component and meaning assigned to the entities within the system. For example, turning waste into resources is a matter of: 

1. conceptual change; 

2. paradigm shift; 

3. ánd new technologies. 

Circular business models change the idea of ‘ownership’ but also need new logistics and distribution networks to function.

Why fashion needs to go circular

The fashion industry is one of the most polluting industries across the world. Fashion is cheaper and collections are changing faster. The production of bulk fashion results in tons of unused and unsold clothes. Also, the competitiveness of the fashion industry has forced low-cost and flexibility in design and quality. Finally, the competitiveness and lack of transparency in the fashion industry inhibit most consumers from making ethical and sustainable fashion choices. 

Our mission in the transition towards a circular economy

We believe in the next generation and their ability to accelerate the transition to a global circular economy. The desire to shape a sustainable global system and tremendous creative energy lurks in young changemakers. Unfortunately, being stuffed away in high school classes, university colleges and corporate cubicles, the energy and talent of these changemakers often remain untapped. Not because there’s an unwillingness to change and progress, but making a real impact and enabling talent to use their full potential appears to be challenging for many organizations 

In addition, organisations have difficulty in deciding the right path towards a global circular economy. In part because many innovations, business models and needed paradigms are still non-existent. Besides, it’s not always clear hów to implement an innovative solution.

While we don’t have the answers either, we believe in the power of bringing together like-minded young people driven to make an impact and apply their talent to sustainable real time challenges. Through a process of design thinking, circular business modelling and masterclasses from experts, the participants are empowered to develop sustainable solutions to real-world challenges. Through real-world learning, participants create valuable circular innovation for organisations.

How participants benefit

This young generation understands the need for change and wants to dedicate themselves to circular fashion challenges. Participants of the Circular Fashion Games have a unique opportunity to apply their talent to real-world challenges and enjoy:

1. an excellent learning opportunity;

2.an inspiring experience by meeting like-minded peers;

3. gain access to unique expertise;

4. and harness their ideas, passion and energy into circular solutions to challenges.

How organisations benefit

Organisations understand the need to shift to a circular economy, because of intrinsic motivation for a better future and external pressure. However, their organisational rigidity and lack of knowledge prevent them from creating innovative solutions to their sustainability challenges. 

By attracting high-potentials and putting them through a process of circular design thinking, organisations have a unique opportunity to enhance their contribution to the transition to a circular economy. At the same time, they’re able to scout for new talent among the participants who are skilled and motivated.

What kind of challenges?

So, what are the challenges organisations are faced with in the transition to circular economy? For the current Circular Fashion Games four organisations issued these challenges:

1. Schiphol, the largest airport of the Netherlands, is looking for a circular solution for the replacement of the uniforms of their 6000 strong workforce.

2. VAUDE is the most innovative and sustainable supplier for outdoor gear. They’re seeing opportunities in leasing outdoor gear instead of just selling. The question is how to make it work.

3. Lenzing is known for their innovation of textile fibers. They want more insight into how to create transparency in the fibre supply chain and how this can create added value for the consumer.

4. The municipality of Amsterdam and Sympany wants to use the materials from textile waste for local fashion entrepreneurs. They hope to raise innovation, job opportunities and inclusion.

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