We read last week about ASOS launching its circular collection of clothing. Using a set of circular design principles, ASOS says that this is the beginning of a shift to a widespread move into designing more of its range with circular credentials.
The launch had some good coverage, but not all of it was positive: an article in the independent was quick to point out that there’s still a lot of work for ASOS to do.
Here, in a nutshell, we have the greatest challenge to anyone trying to drive change towards circularity: it’s never enough, is it? There are three main principles to keep in mind:
Be the champion
Change doesn’t happen without someone taking the lead. That’s not a reference to leadership teams in companies – any individual can make a start. Whether it’s looking to improve material selection, product design or business model delivery – you can be that champion.
Champions are more than just advocates: they drive change and actively influence those around them. They use the evidence to help persuade others. Behind ASOS’s circular design range was an individual or small group that helped the design team to grasp the potential.
It’s not going to be easy, nor will your idea be an overnight success (unless you’re incredibly lucky with what you do and when you pitch it!)
It will need courage: you’re going to experience a wide range of opposition, from those inside your business (“we’ve always done it this way”) to those outside who expect more (“it’s not good enough!”). Some people might not perceive it as a “burning platform” issue. I beg to differ, and invite them to watch more news or social media coverage.
Have the courage to set clear and achievable goals for your circular change and communicate them clearly. Which leads to my final point:
Those who say your change is not ambitious enough may have a point, and they see a greater need for urgency to tackle the climate crisis.
Increasingly consumers are skeptical of ‘greenwash’ – keep them informed, be clear about what you’re doing now, where your next steps will be – and be open in recognising that your first steps are not going to solve all the problems right away. Customers crave authentic messages from brands about what environmental actions those brands are taking. They also expect brands to have the integrity to be honest about where they could do better.
Whatever you do, be more circular
It’s always going to be a balancing act. As the champion you’ll aim to strike the right messages at the right time but whatever you do, get started on circularity now. We think your customers will love you for it.
Who we are
QSA Partners is a specialist team of circular economy and sustainable business experts with extensive experience in fashion and consumer goods. We have worked with many designer and high street brands including adidas, Farfetch and Ted Baker. We believe that better business models – whether based on sustainability or circular economy principles – help our clients stay relevant, grow market share and open up different markets in this rapidly changing world, providing business resilience against the impacts and risks of climate change. Find out more about our services or contact us to see how we can help your business benefit.