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Circle Economy to launch guide on how brands can start rental, resale businesses

By Huw Hughes


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Impact-driven organisation Circle Economy is launching a free, online, step-by-step guide teaching apparel brands how to launch a rental or resale business in under a year.

Launching on April 1, The Circular Toolbox will guide brands of all sizes through a five-step circular innovation process, from getting sign-off from the top and putting a team together all the way to piloting a new concept off the ground.

The toolbox has been developed as part of the Switching Gear project - a two-year initiative led by Circle Economy and part-funded by The C&A Foundation that looks to accelerate the practical uptake of circular business models in the apparel industry.

Launched in Amsterdam in 2019, the project saw four brands - Asket, Lindex, ETP and Kuyichi - supported as they designed and launched either a rental or recommerce pilot.

The soon-to-be-released toolbox was tried and tested during the project, and features resources such as research tools, workshop sheets, facilitator’s guides, a podcast featuring participating brands, as well as specific guidance on how and when to use each tool.

It comes as demand for second-hand fashion and other circular models continues to grow, driven in particular by a younger and more environmentally-conscious consumer.

Sustainable materials alone won't cut it

“The fashion industry’s sustainability efforts thus far have been dominated by a focus on sustainable materials,” said Hélene Smits, circle textiles programme associate at Circle Economy. “While this is a very important driver for impact reduction, with a growing population that is consuming at hyperspeed, it’s becoming blatantly clear that a shift toward using sustainable materials alone is not going to cut it.”

She continued: “Increasing the utilisation of our garments is considered one of the most effective ways to reduce the overall impact of the clothing industry. Resale, rental and subscription models promise to do just this: optimise the lifetime and active use of garments and provide pathways to decouple growth from resource use.”

Stockmann Group-owned Swedish fashion chain Lindex participated in Switching Gear and prototyped a resale model in 2020. “Exploring circular business models is part of Lindex’s transformation as a company and part of us reaching our sustainability goals,” said Annette Tenstam, Lindex’s strategy lead for circularity and environmental sustainability. “With the project, we got support not only in the development of a new model, but also in anchoring and building knowledge across our organisation.”

Image: Lindex

Tenstam continued: “The methodologies and the tools that we used throughout are something that we will use in any new circular business model that we intend to explore going forward—this is also why I can highly recommend using the Circular Toolbox to anyone interested in exploring rental or resale business models.”

Main image: Circle Economy

Circle Economy
Circular Fashion
Sustainable Fashion
Switching Gear