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Top 3 Challenges of Fashion Industry Brands Might Encounter While Embracing Circularity

What could be a better time to talk about fashion? 2020, the year where the entire fashion industry is set to transform. From “what to consume” to “how to consume,” industry players are fixing the problem at every level.

In the fashion industry, Circularity is the new buzz word, trending even more than sustainability. Circularity is a new way of doing business, its a mindset. Fashion and apparel businesses across the globe are embracing Circularity in their business to attain sustainability. Though it’s not as easy as it may sound, apparel brands face many challenges when its to embrace Circularity.

Brands with skin-deep and short-term promises are no longer sufficient to put the sector back on track. Its high time for brands to make a fundamental and long-term commitment to redesign and rethink their textile value chain.

Here are three significant challenges of the circularity battlefield; fashion players are embracing.

Beyond Recycling

Recycling, the first idea to hits minds when it comes to Circularity. Many brands are focusing on recycling campaigns. While these efforts are worth celebrating, but that’s undoubtedly not enough. 

Its time to rethink the entire process and redesign it better. The industry needs a shift from a linear model towards a circular model. 

The most vital element for Circularity comes down to product end-of-life. And brands seek to optimize the Circularity of the raw materials in their products. 

The industry needs to chase the restorative and regenerative supply chain that start at the very beginning of manufacturing apparel. For example, while adopting recycled material, its essential to know how sustainable the fiber-recycling process in and compare that to the energy level consumption for taking on the new raw material. The factors to ensure the sustainability of the recycling process are – water and energy consumption. 

Get the environmental credentials of individuals suppliers to shift from polluting operators to Eco-friendlier ones. Another important benchmark is “Fibre Transparency,” which allows brands and consumers to examine the level of Circularity and sustainability in supply chains. As more and more brands are committing to Circularity, new sustainable standards can be set, boosting the economic, environmental, and societal outcomes. 

Circular Economy Model

The circular economy model can ensure that “clothes never become trash.” Often fashion players find it challenging to shift their business model to a completely circular economy model from a linear economy model. 

The circular economy works with technology, government agencies, research and multilateral organization, and education to identify and define circular jobs. It also determines the environment required to create and sustain them, as well as the technology that can facilitate advancement. 

By embracing practices such as Repair, Rental, Resale, and Recapture, the fashion industry can start to unlock some of the $60 billion, that it currently misses out because of clothing are not used at the fullest before it is discarded, and then rarely recycled. 

Brands need to look at new ways to meet consumers’ needs – Rental and Subscription – and also providing environmental benefits simultaneously. 

According to Gwen Cunningham, the program lead of the Circle Textile Program at Circular Economy has defined the term” DISRUPT 7″ as the critical element of a Circular Economy. 

– Design for the Future

– Incorporate Digital Technology

– Sustain & Preserve What’s Already There

– Rethink the Business Model

– Use Waste as a Resource

– Prioritize Regenerative Resources

– Team Up to Create Joint Value

A circular economy looks beyond current take-make-dispose business models, and redefine growth, focusing on a positive environment and societal benefits. 

Advance Circularity

There are many advancements in the fashion industry to progress and encourage Circularity, yet there are many textile and apparel businesses that are missing on advance circularity.

Most of the brands use recycled fabrics scraps as a part of advance circularity; the practice brings its host of challenges as recycling fabrics using blended fibers in extremely difficult.

The sorting of textile is one-of the time-consuming, inefficient, and often inaccurate efforts, to identify the fiber content. When clothes are recycled, they often turned into rags, insulation, or upholstery stuffing. 

Cognizant of these challenges, many fashion brands are developing more sustainable fiber to replace the traditional blended fibers. 

Avra– The fibers Avra are designed by Eastman Chemical Company to replace the activewear polyester. Also, the fiber can be recycled again into new fibers without compromising on quality. 

Bio-Performance Fabric – PrimLoft has introduced 100 percent post-consumer recycled fibers that are designed for more extended uses and break down only when exposed to landfills or oceans. Also, the fibres can be recycled into new PrimaLoft fibres. 

Apart from this, they are many apparel business using material science to create fabrics and products in eco-friendlier ways. 

The Road Ahead

Despite all the circularity initiatives taken by the apparel industry across the world, according to Ellen MacArthur Foundation report, 15 percent of clothes are collected on recycling, and only 1 percent of clothing is recycled into new clothing. Seventy-three percent of the world’s total clothing eventually ends in landfills, as per the report of Global fashion Agenda and Boston Consulting Group. 

The Journey towards Circularity has just begun; the fashion industry has to go miles to be sustainable and circular. All-size businesses are introducing Circularity through the entire value chain. From designing clothes to recycling textile waste, Circularity is everywhere. Brands are continuously chasing innovations to improve the quality of recycled fibre, but they still need to align their designs and manufacturing arms more tightly. 

Along with industry players, government and policymakers also play a vital role in the Journey of Circularity. Policymakers are striving the innovative approaches of the textile and apparel industry to transiting to a circular economy. 

The Future of Apparel: Towards Compliant Fashion Factories

The fashion industry is expected to see a rise to 3,141.8 million consumers by 2025 and its revenue is projected to reach $987,065 million in this year 20221.

Sustainable clothing is the buzzword in today’s fashion industry and considering this, many retailers are accountable for their production activities. Sustainable supply chain management related compliance practices are being widely adopted along with the international social accountability standards to mitigate social risks, especially when dealing with multi-tier supply chains.

Under the concept of sustainability, recycled clothing upholds the principle of the “Three R’s of the Environment”: Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle, as well as the “Three Legs of Sustainability”: Economics, Ecology, and Social Equity, according to Wikipedia2.

Did you know about the Rana Plaza incident, where two out of its five factories, killed over 1134 individuals and injured thousands more, as per an audit conducted by independent companies based on the Business Social Compliance Initiative (BSCI)?

Another tragic report about a fire incident in a Pakistani garment factory that killed around 300 individuals due to locked emergency exits and blocked windows.

The light of these incidents brought awareness of adhering to social sustainability standards in the garment industry.

What are the major sustainable supply chain management actions for a fashion factory?

– Compliance

This will make sure that your brand is in adherence to legal and social obligations, including work conditions, garment quality, environmental impacts, and human rights.

– Supplier development

This is a measure taken to improve social and economic performance within your supply chain.

– Communication practices

This action will help you understand the communication process including corporate website to e-commerce and enhance communication practices related to sustainability, which is now a need of the fashion industry.

What are the important compliances used in the apparel industry?

The apparel industry retailers will require compliance of the below from their upstream supply chain partners:


An abbreviation of Business Social Compliance Initiative, BSCI provides the apparel industry with social auditing methodology and reporting will suggest the common code of conduct for multi supply chain performance. BSCI now known as amfori BSCI is helping the fashion industry to trade with a purpose while improving social performance in their supply chain.

– SA8000

Clothing industry manufacturers that meet all BSCI requirements can apply for SA8000 social management certification developed by Social Accountability International. The SA8000 certification that is based on international standards to improve social sustainability standards for workers and the company. The elements considered for SA8000 standard is child labour, forced or compulsory labour, health and safety, freedom of association & right to collective bargaining, discrimination, disciplinary practices, working hours, remuneration and management system.3


Another important certification, Worldwide Responsible Accredited Production (WRAP) showcases individuals’ proof of social compliance in the apparel industry.

The BSCI and WRAP are business-driven initiatives, initiated by industry associations, while SA8000 is a multi-stakeholder initiated. WRAP and the SA8000 involve systems accreditation, while BSCI suggest a common code of conduct.

The sustainable future of the modern fashion industry

Sustainable fashion is no more an option, however, is the need of consumers from fashion brands. Organic, Green Fair-trade, Slow and Eco are the other terms for sustainable fashion across the globe. The future of the fashion industry will focus more on eco-friendly resources that include sustainably grown fibre crops or even recycle materials.

Antimicrobial Fabrics: The Future of Textiles

The COVID-19 outbreak has shifted the entire globe’s focus on health and hygiene. With an increase in the healthcare industry and increasing awareness about personal hygiene, the textile industry is all-ready to set a new bar for hygiene environment. The textile industry is embracing hygiene with antimicrobial fabrics.

The outbreak has really changed the way people consume textiles around the world.

According to a report by ResearchAndMarkets, the Antimicrobial textile market is expected to grow at a CAGR of over 4 percent during the forecast period of 2020 and 2025. The key industry players of the antimicrobial fibre industry are concentrated in the region of the US, Canada, and Mexico in North America. Over the years, Asia Pacific has emerged as one of the essential markets with the highest volume and value growth with all the technological advancements. The future of fabrics belongs to Antimicrobial textiles.

In 2019, the global Antimicrobial Susceptibility test market was valued at approximately USD 3.0 billion and was anticipated to grow with more than 5.2 percent over the forecast period. The antimicrobial test can provide better health treatment to individuals dealing with complicated situations.

COVID-19 pandemic has increased the demand for antimicrobial textiles all over the world. And the market is undoubtedly going to boom in the coming years.

Market Forces

In recent years, antimicrobial fabrics have dominated the market due to growing awareness about health and hygiene. The antimicrobial fiber market is majorly driven by the rising demand for hygiene in various applications such as packaging, automotive

& transport, consumer goods, building & construction, food & beverages and medical and healthcare. During the forecast period, the pharmaceutical and healthcare industry is expected to be the largest consumers of antimicrobial fabrics. 

The other major factor driving the growth of antimicrobial textiles is the increase in disposable income of consumers, along with improved lifestyle and higher spending on health & hygiene.

Apart from these two major forces, rising demand for antimicrobial sportswear and apparel is also responsible for driving antimicrobial textiles’ growth. 


Along with the growth, antimicrobial industry players have a set of challenges too. Out of all the market challenges, the biggest one is strict environmental regulations on antimicrobial fibres made by hazardous chemicals.

Even though antimicrobial fabrics have several health benefits, and end-user products are more hygienic. But the dark side of antimicrobial fabrics is laced with antimicrobial chemicals. Many of these chemicals may pose a risk to the planet and, sometimes, health too. 

Antimicrobial chemicals come in different compositions and so vary in properties. These chemicals are used on final products for finishing, which come in contact with skin and pose a risk to health. 

Moreover, on washing, these products release antimicrobial agents such as triclosan, PHMB, QAC, and many others. These chemicals contaminate water bodies and ultimately risk aquatic life and so the environment. These chemicals can also make the land barren if settled in the soil and easily contaminate the land cultivation. 

The biggest challenges for antimicrobial fabric manufacturers are overcoming the health and planet concerns about antimicrobial chemicals and making the industry health and environment friendly.


The antimicrobial fabric of the market also depends on the price and availability of raw materials. These raw materials include cotton, which is treated with antimicrobial agents such as silver, zinc, copper, quaternary ammonium compounds (QACs). 

The raw material prices fluctuate on a day-to-day basis depending on other market factors. And as a result, it may add to the already high cost of production. The cost can further affect the demands and supplies of antimicrobial textile in the market. 


The antimicrobial textiles are gaining immense popularity in the researcher, manufacturers, and consumers. Consumers are demanding better quality products for higher safety and quality life. 

The market researchers are continuously striving to develop skin-friendly, cost-effective, and eco-friendly products while manufacturers are in the race to differentiate their products by using different active agents or fabrics. 

Both the continuous research and technological advances are creating massive growth in the antimicrobial fabric market. 

Way Ahead

Currently, the Antimicrobial fabric is an emerging and developing market. In the forecasted period, the antimicrobial fabric market is expected to dominate the global textile market. 

The high demand for antimicrobial fabric from the healthcare industry may boost the antimicrobial fabric market. An increase in the number of hospitals and raising awareness of personal hygiene are expected to be the enormous forces boost growth.