The fashion industry
needs a redesign






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Circular Design for Fashion

A journey towards the future of design

It has been written in recognition of fashion’s huge potential to move towards a circular economy and in homage to its creatives – passionate pioneers on the constant search for reinvention.

A new mindset

This book offers a creative lens through which to discover and develop new products and navigate radical transformation, while addressing many of the world’s most pressing challenges.

A contribution to a growing global circular design movement

Design decisions shape how we interact with the world around us, and creatives across every industry and demographic are embracing their role in reimagining products, services, and systems.

Insights from over 80 early circular design practitioners in fashion

They include established luxury brands - Gucci and Vivienne Westwood, independent labels - Kevin Germanier and Marine Serre, high-street giants - Gap and H&M, pioneers of the virtual fashion experience - Alvanon and The Fabricant, and clothing resale and rental specialists - thredUP and Vestiaire Collective.

While achieving a completely circular economy will take time, these practitioners have all started their journey. Their perspectives and insights have helped build a rich understanding of circular design and what it means for the fashion industry.

The gateway to a world of creativity

It seeks to ignite curiosity, giving the inspiration and encouragement to explore, learn, and cultivate a new design mindset.

Circular Design for Fashion Book
Circular Design for Fashion Book
Circular Design for Fashion Book
Circular Design for Fashion Book
Circular Design for Fashion Book
Circular Design for Fashion Book
Circular Design for Fashion Book
Circular Design for Fashion Book
Circular Design for Fashion Book
Circular Design for Fashion Book
Circular Design for Fashion
is this book for?
This book is for fearless innovators committed to spearheading the future of fashion. It’s for all of us looking to make a positive impact in an industry that we love and care about.

It’s increasingly acknowledged that the practice of design is not exclusive to designers, nor is it found only in studios. The materials, garments, services, shows, supply chains, and stores of the fashion industry all work the way they do because of innumerable design decisions, made by creatives all over the world.

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Circular design is a mission-led practice of design based on the principles of the circular economy and systems thinking.

Circular design goes far beyond rethinking single products or services, it has the potential to redefine how the entire fashion system operates. It’s a chance for anyone in the fashion industry – regardless of job title – to support the shift to a circular economy where, by design, waste and pollution are eliminated, products and materials are kept in use, and natural systems are regenerated.

Circular design is a pioneering practice of design. It’s the creative opportunity of the coming decade for the creatives, innovators, and pioneers who seek to reshape the fashion industry.

Circular design has the power to expand our vision, boost our creativity, and create a more resilient and thriving fashion industry.


Explore the stories and legacies of four circular design pioneers whose brands were recognised at the 2022 CNMI Sustainable Fashion Awards - EILEEN FISHER, NKWO, Timberland and Vestiaire Collective. 

As contributors to Circular Design for Fashion, their stories highlight how fashion can be redefined through circular design and the journey they’ve taken to get there.

The Camera Nazionale della Moda Italiana (CNMI) Sustainable Fashion Awards provide a unique platform to highlight how fashion can be redefined through circular design, and in 2022 the Ellen MacArthur Foundation collaborated on the Awards. 

With Dame Ellen MacArthur as Chair of the Jury, the Awards acknowledged those setting ambitious targets and taking concrete action towards change, with a strong focus on sustainable and circular innovation. Through highlighting the winners and nominees that are redefining the future for fashion on a world stage, the hope is that creatives everywhere are encouraged to rethink how they too can design for a regenerative, circular economy.

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Winner of The Pioneer Award

EILEEN FISHER strives to create a different business model that reuses, replenishes and regenerates the resources involved. 

Having always stood for conscious consumption and slow fashion, the brand highlights the value of garments’ longevity and the concept of “buy less, buy better”. A pioneer of pre-loved collections, to date EILEEN FISHER has reclaimed 1.8 million garments and developed two business streams: Renew, for second hand gardments, and Waste No More, its signature felting program.


Winner of The Circular Economy Award

Timberland is a global outdoor lifestyle brand best known for its original yellow work boot. Today, Timberland offers a full range of footwear, apparel and accessories made with recycled and renewable materials.

In April 2022, Timberland launched the Timberloop Trekker, a new version of their traditional city hiker that has been designed for a circular economy. Manufactured to last, these hikers have also been designed for disassembly: at the end of their use each component can be individually recycled into new material.


Winner of The Bicester Collection Award for Emerging Designers 

NKWO, founded by Nkwo Onwuka is a Nigeria-based artisanal brand, whose focus has been on textile waste reduction, support for communities, and tradition preservation since 2012. 

NKWO addresses textile waste, driving environmental conservation, preserving traditional craft skills, and helping to alleviate poverty. Furthermore, material research led her to invent a new African fabric, using an innovative technique of stripping and sewing waste fabrics rooted in the long African tradition of weaving, called Dakala™ Cloth. 

Vestiaire Collective

Nominee for The Circular Economy Award 

Founded in 2009, Vestiaire Collective has been an early actor in the resale landscape, mainly within high-end second-hand fashion. The company scaled fast and is now known as one of the most trusted resell platforms in the industry.

Vestiaire aims to change how people access fashion through its mobile and online platform, its highly curated pre-loved catalogue, and garment authentication process. At the core of their business model is the belief that high-quality garments are meant to be used more and by more people.
Creating solutions for a world where clothes are kept in use

Featured in Circular Design for Fashion, The Jeans Redesign is an example of how design is a force for change.

The project started with a simple question. Is it possible to design and make jeans fit for a circular economy today? Being an iconic fashion staple, jeans represented a fundamental opportunity to start addressing the flaws of the linear economy, in an ambitious, yet impactful way.

Documented in the most recent Insights report, the project has demonstrated that circular design can become the norm and further reinforces the fashion industry's huge potential to move towards a circular economy. Jeans are just the start.

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This book has been
co-created with:

Aditya Birla Fashion and Retail Ltd (ABFRL)
Art Partner
Atelier & Repairs
Bank & Vogue
Bethany Williams
Bureau Betak
By Rotation
Candiani Denim
Circular Systems
Critical Textile Topologies
Duran Lantink
Eileen Fisher
Fast Retailing
Ferdinando Verderi
Gabriela Hearst
Good American
H&M Group
klee klee
La Bouche Rouge
Maggie Marilyn
Month Day Year
Nkwo Onwuka
Orange Culture
Patrick McDowell
Pepijn van Eeden
Phipps International
Point Off View by Marina Testino
Powered by People
PVH Corp. / Tommy Hilfiger
Reclothing Bank
Sara Sozzani Maino
Shantanu & Nikhil
Stella McCartney
Style House Files - Lagos Fashion Week
Susannah Frankel
Taylor Stitch
The African Rack
The Fabricant
The Renewal Workshop
The Restory
The Sustainable Angle | Future Fabrics Expo
Tillmann Lauterbach
Vestiaire Collective
VF Corp / Napapijri
Vivienne Westwood
W.L. Gore & Associates
Wolfgang Blau

About the
Ellen MacArthur
The Ellen MacArthur Foundation is a UK-based charity that develops and promotes the idea of a circular economy in order to tackle some of the biggest challenges of our time, such as climate change, biodiversity loss, waste, and pollution. We work with, and inspire, business, academia, policymakers, and institutions to mobilise systems solutions at scale, globally. In a circular economy, business models, products, and materials are designed to increase use and reuse, creating an economy in which nothing becomes waste and everything has value. Increasingly based on renewable energy and materials, the circular economy is a resilient, distributed, diverse, and inclusive economic model.

This book is part of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s Circular Design Programme, which aims to empower and equip the world’s designers and creatives in fashion, food, packaging, and beyond, to respond to the circular economy opportunity.
Now is time to reinvent ourselves even further. The circular economy can take us beyond simply trying to do less harm —  it is a bigger idea, one that has the power to inspire a new generation of designers. As this book sets out, it is an opportunity to create a fashion industry that is part of the solution to challenges like climate change, biodiversity loss, waste, and pollution, and an industry that can thrive in the long term.
Author profile
Sara Sozzani Maino
Book mockup

Redefining the industry's future. By creatives for creatives.

Circular Design For Fashion Book

Through examples of circular design in practice and the stories of noted fashion leaders such as Vivienne Westwood, Gabriela Hearst, Marine Serre, Bethany Williams, Nkwo Onwuka, and Ferdinando Verderi, the book shows how creatives can transform the industry from being a major cause of global challenges like climate change and biodiversity loss to being part of the solution.

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Buy the book