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.


Switching Gear is a C&A Foundation supported project, led by Circle Economy, that aims ​to accelerate re-commerce and rental business models and  contribute to the apparel industry shift towards circular consumption models.

The project guides 6 apparel brands on a circular innovation process to help them design and launch rental and recommerce business model pilots by 2021. The 6 apparel brands will receive 1-on-1 support and guidance and will follow 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 will connect 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.


The Switching Gear project supports 6 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 6 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:


Is your brand curious about circular business models and looking for practical direction and support on getting started? “Switching Gear” will run from September 2019 to December 2020 and is currently onboarding brands. We would love to hear from you!


Switching Gear

Towards circular business models

About Switching Gear
Project Team
Partners & Supporters
Enabling Network
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The Switching Gear project was made possible thanks to the generous support of Laudes Foundation.

Strategic Partner

To support the practical implementation of the Switching Gear pilots, and enable the wider uptake of circular business models in the apparel Industry, Circle Economy have joined forces with strategic partner Fashion For Good. Through this partnership, Circle Economy and Fashion for Good will work together to drive the formation of a powerful global Enabling Network of over 50 circular solution providers and innovators, frontrunning brands and relevant experts, in the next 2.5 years.

Bridging the Gap Partners

Bringing together four unique initiatives, Bridging the Gap strives to advance implementation of circular business models that make fashion with safe, non-virgin and renewable materials that are endlessly used and reused. The group consists of Circle Economy, London Waste and Recycling Board in partnership with QSA Partners, Forum for the Future and World Resources Institute in partnership with WRAP. Each of these initiatives target different actors across all levels of the apparel value chain to share knowledge, craft guidelines and initiate pilots. To deepen the impact of their work, Bridging the Gap was established by Laudes Foundation as a formal learning group, in which the organisations work through common challenges together and share best practice.

MEDIA Partner

FashionUnited Logo

To disseminate key learnings from the project, Circle Economy partnered with FashionUnited, an independent and global content platform for the fashion industry. Published articles can be found on this page.

Other supporters

PwC is supporting the Switching Gear project on a pro-bono basis as part of their corporate responsibility program, and will be providing participating brands with help in developing a business case for their rental and recommerce pilots.