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Designing for circularity is a multifaceted process that includes the product’s intended use and lifecycle. In a two-year research project led by University of the Arts London (UAL), Filippa K explored fast and slow cycles for fabrics and garments.

Initially the project identified existing consumer behaviours to create garments that help customers make responsible purchasing decisions based on their needs. This resulted in Filippa K sourcing materials outside its existing supply chain to meet new demands. For garments with a fast cycle the brand used biodegradable materials and natural dyes, just as each dress was handmade. Garments with a slow cycle were made of 100% recycled material and designed for cyclability independent of their durability.

Material choice played integral role 

The choice of materials was key for the success of both styles. Initial ideas for fast garments had to be rethought: Instead of pushing to change consumer behaviour, the brand used built-in obsolescence, speeding up fast fashion to the extreme. For slow garments, producing minimum quantities was a challenge due to the limited availability of recycled polyester. Made with a timeless design, the slow garments derived their durability from the lifespan of the polyester.

Holistic actions manifest circular design speeds

Filippa K’s aim is to expand the use of dope-dyed polyester in other garments and to teach new members of its design team about sustainable materials and designing for circularity. The brand also hopes to incorporate material and design research into its design and product development processes by continuing its collaboration with UAL researchers. Moreover, key performance indicators will be applied and adapted to more of the brand’s products to achieve full traceability.

#CircularSundays is a bi-monthly digital feature from Global Fashion Agenda unpacking case studies from signatories of the 2020 Circular Fashion System Commitment.