ASOS and Centre for Sustainable Fashion drive innovation in circular design with new guidebook

ASOS, one of the leading online fashion destinations, and Centre for Sustainable Fashion (CSF), a research centre based at London College of Fashion, part of University of the Arts London, release the ASOS Circular Design Guidebook, a 112-page interactive resource to help designers, students and fashion brands design and create fashion products that support the circular economy.

The co-authored guidebook is the latest element of a multi-year collaboration between ASOS and CSF which started in 2018. Since the start of the collaboration, all ASOS designers and relevant commercial teams have received education on circular design developed by CSF. ASOS also launched its first proof-of-concept for circular design, the ASOS Design Circular Collection, in September 2020.

The guidebook contains a detailed breakdown on ASOS’ nine circular design strategies, developed through consultation with CSF and with input from the Ellen MacArthur Foundation through participation in its Make Fashion Circular Initiative. Each of these strategies can support in achieving the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s vision of a circular economy for fashion. Under this vision, products are made from safe and recycled or renewable inputs; are used more; and are made to be made again. The nine strategies are:

  • Innovative materials
  • Recycled materials
  • Minimised waste
  • Zero waste
  • Remanufacture/upcycling
  • Durability
  • Versatility
  • Mono-materiality
  • Disassembly

The guidebook includes more detail on each strategy and how it can be applied in practice by brands and designers. Alongside the strategies, it contains a zero-waste cutting guide, offering a technical guide to creating garments without wasting materials during the pattern cutting process. Other chapters include a guide to choosing suitable materials for circular design products, and details on recycling techniques currently offered by the fashion industry, which designers can use to inform their design choices. It also contains examples of best practice in circular design from across the fashion industry, as part of a broader effort to encourage a pre-competitive approach to circular design within the sector. ASOS has been collaborating with H&M Group and PVH Corp on circular design for the past year, as partners with a collective ambition to drive industry-wide change.

Launching this guidebook together with CSF means we can help accelerate the transition to circular design across the entire fashion industry, critical to achieving the sustainability we all want to see.

Simon Platts, Responsible Sourcing Director at ASOS, said “Launching this guidebook together with CSF means we can help accelerate the transition to circular design across the entire fashion industry, critical to achieving the sustainability we all want to see. This in-depth, accessible and easy-to-use resource should prove invaluable to other brands, designers and students looking to implement circular design in practice and marks the next step in our journey to Be More Circular through Fashion with Integrity.”

Professor Dilys Williams, Director, Centre for Sustainable Fashion, said “This guide builds on a long-term partnership between ASOS and Centre for Sustainable Fashion at London College of Fashion, aiming to change the direction of fashion. The aims are bold and ambitious, it’s about valuing nature – our only source of wealth – and making that economically viable and valuable.

“We have a good start: nature is the most experienced, most talented designer we can learn from and each one of us is a part of nature, so for us to thrive, we must ensure that nature thrives. Designing and developing product uses skills, including ingenuity and imagination, to improve a situation, but unless it improves life, it isn’t good design. By making our starting point good design we harness the ability to create meaningful change in the industry.”

The publication of the guidebook follows the launch of the next phase of ASOS’ Fashion with Integrity programme in September 2021. ASOS announced four key 2030 goals: Be Net Zero, Be More Circular, Be Transparent and Be Diverse.

Through Be More Circular, the business has committed to embracing circular systems that prioritise extending the life of garments and conserving resources by reusing and recycling materials. Targets include ensuring that 100% of ASOS products and packaging are produced using more sustainable or recycled materials by 2030, expanding the use of circular design strategies across ASOS’ full product range over time, and facilitating product recovery programmes for reuse and recycle in key markets, to enable customers to extend the life of garments. ASOS has also committed to publishing a dedicated circular design strategy by the end of 2023.

Read an interactive copy of the guidebook here.

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