WORDS BY ASHLEIGH GRIBBON
With sustainability now at the forefront of the luxury fashion conversation, the importance of achieving a circular fashion economy — reusing, repairing, recycling or repurposing existing pieces — is becoming evermore essential for an industry intent on lessening its negative impact on the planet. But what exactly is circular fashion and how can we, as shoppers, embrace this new approach? With expert advice from New York-based stylist and ethical fashion advocate Rachael Wang, we look at how FARFETCH can help you to think, act and choose positively.
Circular fashion: a sustainability concept
In its broadest sense, the circular fashion concept is about keeping pre-existing pieces and materials in use for as long as possible. This reduces the energy and resources consumed by producing new pieces, and reduces the amount of fabrics and textiles that would otherwise end up in landfill. This circularity can be achieved in numerous ways: from designers choosing to work recycled and upcycled materials into new collections — an approach that both superbrands and next-generation designers have embraced in recent seasons — to shopping pre-owned designer pieces. Then there’s re-selling, donating and repairing your existing clothing, bags and accessories.
'Donating, recycling and gifting clothes you no longer want helps to keep more pieces out of landfills,’ notes Rachael Wang. She goes on to explain the environmental benefits of shopping pre-owned fashion: ‘Buying second-hand saves about 90% of CO2 emissions and 95% of water use, compared to buying something new. If everyone bought one used piece instead of a new product this year, we would save millions of pounds of carbon emissions and billions of gallons of water.’
With the help of FARFETCH’s Fashion Footprint Tool, you can make smarter and more planet-friendly fashion choices. The benefits of shopping pre-owned pieces are clear to see via the tool, as are the benefits of choosing sustainable materials when looking to purchase new positively conscious pieces.
Upcycling: the design practice of the future
The SS21 collections see many designers repurpose pre-existing textiles to create new pieces; an approach now commonly known as upcycling. A few rising, consciously minded brands have made their names with progressive collections that feature vintage and deadstock fabrics at their core, including Chopova Lowena, Marine Serre, Rentrayage and Bode. But it's the uptake of the practice from powerhouse brands like Balenciaga, Marni and Gabriela Hearst — whose latest collection contained 60% upcycled pieces — that indicates a more sustainable approach is becoming integral to creating future collections.
'Some of my highlights from this season’s collections are upcycled pieces from brands like Bethany Williams, By Walid and Greg Lauren,’ says Wang. ‘In terms of emerging designers, one label that I’m really excited about is Ahluwalia. [Founder and creative director] Priya Ahluwalia uses vintage and deadstock clothing to create new pieces that feel really contemporary. The brand gives existing textiles and traditional techniques a new life via responsible sourcing and manufacturing. I also love Laura Lombardi, who makes great statement jewelry using recycled metals.’
From the archives: pre-owned designer pieces
Choosing to invest in a vintage treasure as opposed to a new piece is one of the easiest ways you can help reduce waste and offset the fashion industry’s environmental impact. At the same time, you’re enriching your closet with an archive design from one of fashion’s most iconic eras — think Alaïa’s sculptural 1980s designs, or Versace’s unmistakable throwback prints from the 1990s.
'I love buying second hand,’ says Wang. ‘Not only is it a more affordable way to own luxury fashion, but it also increases the life-cycle of a garment, which ultimately reduces my own environmental impact. I look for versatile, well-made, high-quality pieces that can be worn in lots of ways. I generally like to shop in the men’s sections of thrift stores because I feel like tailoring is timeless. For me, the key to shopping vintage is knowing your measurements, as sizing standards have changed over time. Don’t be afraid to have something taken in by your local tailor to get the perfect fit.’
FARFETCH Second Life: sell your designer bags for credit
Our resale service Second Life gives your pre-loved designer bags a second lease of life, in exchange for some well-earned FARFETCH credit to fund your future purchases. The process is simple: upload photos of the bag you want to sell — see the full list of luxury brands currently being accepted by the service in the ‘Brand’ drop-down here — and we'll tell you how much credit you could earn within two working days.
If you choose to accept the credit, you can schedule a free collection at a time that suits you. Once the team has received and verified your bag, the credit will be applied to your FARFETCH account. There are no hidden fees — the quote provided is the exact value of credit you'll receive — and credit is applied to your account as soon as the bag is verified. ‘Services like Second Life are so important because they keep accessories in their life-cycle longer,’ says Wang.
Please note this service is currently only available in the UK, USA, all European Union countries and Norway.
FARFETCH Fix: the world’s best restoration service
Powered by The Restory, a leading aftercare company, FARFETCH Fix is a newly launched luxury restoration service that offers entirely bespoke repairs — masterfully worked on by specialist artisans — to return your favourite shoes, bags and other leather goods to their former glory. ‘Restoration services like FARFETCH Fix are a great way to extend the life cycle of your shoes, bags and leather goods,’ notes Wang, on the conscious credentials of the initiative.
FARFETCH Fix’s three-step process is quick, clear and easy to manage. Book a collection date and time via the online booking system, directly from your home, anywhere in the world. Once your pieces are received at the atelier, a quote will be provided ready for you to review — you can review, edit and approve all proposed services for each individual item — and once approved, the work will begin. Upon the completion of your restoration, the newly restored piece will be returned to you beautifully packaged at a time and place that’s convenient. Popular services across FARFETCH Fix include women’s and men’s reheeling, toe-piece restoration, colour restoration and sneaker cleaning.
FARFETCH Donate, powered by Thrift+
A service that embraces a circular approach, FARFETCH Donate enables you to raise money for your chosen charity, extend the life of your previously loved pieces and earn FARFETCH credit by donating your best pre-owned clothes. Powered by Thrift+, this on-demand donation service makes it easy, transparent and rewarding to donate clothes to your favourite cause — simply order a ThriftBag, fill it up, and it will be collected free of charge. By using live data from online marketplaces to set a fair price for pre-loved pieces, Thrift+ maximises the funds you can raise when compared with more traditional donation services. While you can choose to donate all proceeds to charity if you wish, you can also select to earn 33% of each piece sold as FARFETCH credit, at the same time as raising funds for your chosen cause. Please note this service is currently only available in the UK.