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Highly aware that designers play a vital role in determining a product’s cyclability, ASOS has pledged to deliver circular design training to its designers as part of its 2020 Circular Fashion System Commitment targets.

Circulating garments back into the system is difficult if circularity is not an integral part of the initial design process, which means empowering designers to incorporate circularity early on is crucial. To make this possible ASOS, in partnership with the Centre for Sustainable Fashion (CSF) at London College of Fashion, has created a bespoke course to engage its designers in pioneering circular design techniques and best practices. The aim is to design products that take their entire lifecycle into account.

In June 2018 the circular design training programme kicked off with a pilot project that ushered 15 members of the ASOS design team through half-day workshops, discussions and drop-in sessions. They explored concepts, case studies and practical circular design applications with researchers and designers from the CFS team. ASOS Retail Academy now offers the programme on an ongoing basis.To date 93% of ASOS’ design team (116 people) have attended the Circular Design 1course and 49% (60 people) the Circular Design 2course, with numbers growing monthly.

Empowering champions of circularity across functions

This represents just the beginning of ASOS’ circular design journey. After quickly realising that all retail teams and functions (buying, merchandising, pattern cutting, garment tech) need to be involved, ASOS recently hired a dedicated team member to oversee the development of the training programme. Every team member needs to know specifically how circular design affects them and hot it can be used in the roles they play. Identifying champions of circularity throughout the business and harnessing their support for scaling the programme has been an essential part of the process.

Alongside these champions and the ASOS retail teams, senior stakeholder buy-in was vital in getting the project off the ground. Moreover ASOS ensured that its suppliers were involved by integrating them into the journey. ASOS embraces challenges and roadblocks due to the rich learning they provide, while also recognising that people in and outside the organisation genuinely care about circular design and want to be a part of the project.

Read more about circular design in the 2020 Commitment toolbox.