Redress Design Award

Circular Design Strategies

Circular Design Strategies

QUICK NAVIGATION  •  Circular Fashion System   |  Incorporating Circular Design Strategies  -  Design For Low Waste  |  Design For Low-Impact Materials And Processes   |  Design For Longevity  |  Design For Recyclability

Circular Fashion System

For designers to create and foster a circular fashion system means that from sourcing materials to pattern design, creation and consideration of user and disposal after use, they must have a clear understanding of the environmental impacts of their creations and will have explored solutions through the design of collections. They should be reflective and critical of their work and be able to clearly explain their decision making at each step of creating their sustainable collection.


To learn more about the circular fashion system, explore the LEARN platform to suppliment your learning.

If you are a student, we encourage you to ask your educators to use the Sustainable Fashion Educator Pack. This free pack includes classroom presentations and activities with detailed information on the garment life cycle, fibres and design methods which will provide additional learning on circular design thinking for you and your classmates.


Incorporating Circular Design Strategies

At Redress we believe in the power of designers who can help unlock the value of waste!

Circular design thinking, and design strategies are key to lessening the environmental impact of designs. We have defined our four core circular design strategies and designers should refer to these during concept development and collection creation.

The infographic and definitions below will help provide some guidance on four core circular design strategies. However, there are many ways to approach these circular design strategies so it is up to the designers to define issues that are most important to them and reflect this in their designs.


Design for Low Waste

  • The volume of both pre and post consumer textile waste annually is huge and it’s on a steady rise due to the drastic increase of clothes that are produced and consumed year after year, coupled with the shift in how we relate with our clothes, often treating them as disposable products.

  • Around 80% of a product’s environmental impact is locked in at the design stage. [1]

  • Design for Low Waste is a strategy to tackle the waste issue at source by using zero-waste design method at the onset, and by reusing and repurposing both pre and post consumer textile waste into designs.

  • Head here to learn more about the sustainable design techniques – zero-waste, up-cycling and reconstruction.

Design for Low-impact Materials and Processes

  • During the production process of both materials and products, harmful production methods and hazardous substances are often used to increase effectiveness, enhance quality as well as reduce costs but often at the expense of the health of our planet and of people.

  • For example, globally 20% of freshwater pollution comes from textile treatment and dyeing. [2]

  • Designers have the ability to adopt the use of low-impact fibres, materials and production methods that reduce energy and water consumption and minimise the discharge of chemicals in entering and re-entering the fashion system.

Design for Longevity

  • Research shows that by extending the life of clothing by an extra nine months of active use would reduce carbon, waste and water footprints by around 20-30% each and cut resource costs by 20%. [3]

  • This shows the potential of reducing fashion’s footprint at the use phrase by creating clothing with longevity in mind and keeping clothing in use as long as possible.

  • Designers have a major role in aiding the establishment of emotional connection to the clothing for their customers that can come from the quality, durability and/or education in consumer care.

Design for Recyclability

  • It is estimated that less than 1% of material used to produce clothing is recycled into new clothing. This take-make-dispose model not only leads to an economic value loss of over US$500 billion per year, but also has numerous negative environmental and societal impacts. [4]

  • Designers should approach fashion products with end-of-life in mind that allows a close loop system to maintain the value and quality of the fibres and all materials to be recycled safely and infinitely as the ultimate goal.

Click here for further inspiration for the core four circular design strategies.

[1] WRAP (n.d.), WRAP and the circular economy
[2] Raybin, A (2009), Water pollution and textiles industry as cited in The Sustainable Academy (SFA) and The Global Leadership Award in Sustainable Apparel (GLASA) (2015), The State of the Apparel Sector – 2015 Special Report: Water
[3] WRAP (2012), Valuing our clothes
[4] Business of Fashion (2017), The State of Fashion 2018