The linear business model of the fashion industry is unsustainable: companies will soon be required to evolve to a circular model, but most players are far from ready to do so. However, their time is running out…
New business models
Early 2024, RetailDetail’s inspiration centre The Loop will open a new fashion innovation lab under the name Re-Mode. It will offer insights into the sustainable future of the retail world and the fashion sector, in collaboration with sustainable fashion expert Sara Kovic. Through her start-up Okret, she guides fashion companies towards a circular business model.
“Together, we will look at developments in fashion: new business models and inspiring examples. We want to do more than provide ideas and make visitors think, but also to engage them and offer tailored solutions for their organisations.” This is a pressing need for the polluting fashion industry: after all, a whole new legal framework is being created, that requires companies to report on their sustainability progress. Most fashion companies are far from ready for this.
Towards a circular model
With Re-Mode, Okret and RetailDetail want to raise awareness in the sector and encourage companies to take the first steps. “Technology is not the problem, but the people need to push forward the change. How can you create support within your own organisation to carry this new way of working and thinking along? It should not be limited to one person who is going to tick the sustainable boxes. Sustainability has to live throughout the organisation, all departments have something to contribute.”
The Re-Mode lab space is will show the whole value chain, starting from raw materials through design, production, logistics, sales and use… but “That chain no longer ends with throwing the clothing away, like the linear systems we are in now. It continues with taking back and reusing the fabrics after use. That is what companies need to learn: how do you close the circle?” Kovic sees that “All companies today are linear, but that is not the model of the future. Fashion companies underestimate what it takes to move towards a circular model.”
Giving value back to textiles
Re-Mode will showcase the production and consumption models of the future, because – make no mistake – that future is not far off any more. “Sustainable reporting becomes mandatory from 2026, so companies really do have to start working on it from next year at the latest. Many are too nonchalant, the sense of urgency is still missing. Where are the early adopters who are helping start this movement? This is about giving value back to textiles. Then consumers will be willing to pay for it.”
Okret itself is leading by example with the creation of a platform for circular makers and with collaborations leading to its own Re-Mode collection. In the spring, interested parties can join Okret Academy, an accelerator that teaches companies about efficient waste management in the fashion sector through a series of master classes and hands-on workshops. Kovic also shows how all of this is tied to legislation within the Green Deal, with practical advice on how to get started in concrete terms.