Designing products for a circular economy is central in the transition to building a truly circular system – one where products are used more, are made to be made again and are made from safe and recycled or renewable inputs.
To demonstrate this, in 2019, Ellen MacArthur Foundation launched The Jeans Redesign which acts as a framework to inform companies across the industry to start designing with circular economy principles, and to work collaboratively and learn from each other. The guidelines, created with input from industry experts, set a minimum bar for the creation of jeans, including guidance on recycled content, safe chemistry, material sourcing, and recyclability.
During the first two years of The Jeans Redesign, participants have demonstrated that it is possible to make jeans fit for a circular economy today, and has resulted in brands putting half a million pairs of jeans on the market that are durable, traceable, recyclable, and made using safe materials and processes.
Driving fashion forward for good is PVH Corp.’s ambition to ensure all owned products and business operations generate zero waste, zero carbon emissions and zero hazardous chemicals, and for all products to be designed for a circular economy. To achieve this vision, in 2019, TOMMY HILFIGER, a PVH Corp. brand, joined the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s project The Jeans Redesign. By joining this project, they committed to designing and making jeans for a circular economy.
In 2021, TOMMY HILFIGER successfully launched its first Jean Redesign collection of twenty garments in-line with the Jeans Redesign guidelines. The collection prompted a full rethink across design and manufacturing processes, founded upon principles of durability, recyclability, traceability, and material health. Within the collection, design considerations included the use of detachable buttons; the replacement of metal rivets with bar tacks; the removal of all metal zippers; removal of the leather patch; the use of 100% organic fabric. To increase durability of the products, each piece of the collection also features wash and care instructions on the pockets, along with advice to repair, donate, or recycle the product after use.
To date, the Jeans Redesign collection highlights TOMMY HILFIGER’s ongoing commitment to eliminate waste by innovating for circularity. So far, TOMMY HILFIGER has trained nearly 70% of its designers on circular design principles. The brand is also driving transformative change in the denim industry, producing more than 4 million pieces of lower impact denim, finished through processes that use less water or energy than traditional processes, as well as becoming the first major company in the denim market to use 100% recycled cotton at scale (80% pre-consumer waste, 20% post-consumer waste).
So far, 100 organisations (including brands, garment manufacturers, and fabric mills) having enrolled on The Jeans Redesign and are working together on a learning journey to demonstrate circular design in action. By signing up to the project they have committed to bring a selection of redesigned jeans to the market, and are required to transparently report on the progress they made at the end of the period.
While the number of circular jeans makes up just a small part of the total market, the project offers companies a valuable testing bed for innovation and identifying changes to processes. The insights gained can go a long way in informing bold action towards creating more products, across their portfolios, in line with circular economy principles. In particular, the first two years of the project have highlighted barriers to scale and areas for action that the industry must address to scale the circular economy and tackle the root cause of global challenges such as climate change, biodiversity loss, waste and pollution.
Building on the momentum driven by The Jeans Redesign, businesses in the fashion industry are encouraged to take bold action to adopt circular economy principles today. In order to create the necessary enabling environment fit to scale, the below actions are required: