Switching Gear was a Laudes Foundation supported project, led by Circle Economy, that aimed to accelerate re-commerce and rental business models and contribute to the apparel industry shift towards circular consumption models.
The project guided four apparel brands on a circular innovation process to help them design and launch rental and recommerce business model pilots by 2021. The four apparel brands received 1-on-1 support and guidance and followed a bespoke training programme on the Circular Economy, Business Model Innovation and Change Leadership, led by a multi disciplinary team of circularity experts, design thinkers and researchers. Additionally, the project connected participating brands to the Enabling Network of innovators, frontrunning brands and and experts to support the implementation and scaling of their recommerce and rental pilots.
In April 2021, the Circular Toolbox, a step-by-step guide for apparel brands looking to explore resale and rental, was released to enable even more brands to follow in the same process.
The past two decades have seen a dramatic decrease in the amount of times clothes are worn. Coupled with a shift towards fast fashion, average consumers today buy 60% more items than they did 15 years ago and wear them for half as long. 70% of closets usually go unworn and it is estimated that 33% of women wear items as little as 5 times before disposing of them. The fast cycle of buying and disposing of clothes drives demand for nonstop manufacturing and contributes to the fashion industries wastefulness and polluting impact.
Moving from a linear path to a circular fashion industry will meet the needs of consumers, industry, society and, most of all, the environment. To enable the transition to a circular industry, it is critical for companies to fundamentally redesign their business models to circular business models with net positive outcomes. Extending the active use of garments is considered one of the most effective ways to reduce the overall impact of the apparel industry. Using a garment just three months longer can lower its water, carbon and waste footprint by 5 percent to 10 percent. Consumer attitudes towards wearing ‘used’ clothing are rapidly shifting with 64% of women now buying or willing to buy secondhand products, reporting multiple benefits to shopping recommerce or rental. It has become clear that Recommerce and Rental business models offer several value adding opportunities for brands and consumers including optimising the useful life of clothes.
The Switching Gear project supports participating brand task teams in developing, launching and scaling a new circular business model by guiding them through a series of tailored masterclasses. The project consists of six full day masterclasses, hosted every quarter at inspiring locations in Amsterdam. The masterclasses are a mix of plenary sessions and targeted breakouts with individual task teams. In between quarterly masterclasses, online ‘scrums’ are held to keep all teams on track.
Masterclasses are designed and led by a team of circular economy and design thinking experts, with keynotes from topic-specific experts and frontrunners.
All masterclasses will encompass 4 key fundamentals: