Circular style & Forever fashion


Photographed by Tierney Gearson, Vogue, September 2019

In case you know more about piña coladas then Piñatex® (a sustainable leather alternative, which is made from waste pineapple leaves) and are a little, ahem, green to the idea, the term ‘circular fashion’ was coined by Dr. Anna Brismar, a Swedish sustainability consultant, in 2014. Brismar defines it as, “Clothes, shoes or accessories that are designed, sourced, produced and provided with the intention to be used and circulated responsibly and effectively in society for as long as possible in their most valuable form, and hereafter return safely to the biosphere when no longer of human use."

Today actively championed by the likes of ethical luxury pioneer Stella McCartney, alongside the Ellen MacArthur Foundation and the Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute (as well as, full discretion, The Vintage Bar), this fashion-positive movement is now firmly on the style agenda – for keeps.

Photo: Anna Brismar

The circularity concept offers mindful shoppers a way to edit a high-value, consciously curated, personal wardrobe, and also explicitly ensures that pre-loved pieces are kept in circulation – and, therefore, out of landfills (ew!) – for as long as possible. ( Did you know, the equivalent of one dump truck of textile waste is landfilled or incinerated every second? ) Especially regarding items that have already been produced, circular fashion indisputably places the power to make environmentally responsible buying – and, crucially, selling (e.g. consigning) or disposing (e.g. donating) – decisions back in the hands of the purchaser. Given the current climate, care for self and surroundings is now, irrevocably, in vogue – and circularity is the crème de la crème of conscious shopping.

Admittedly, it can all sound a little overwhelming. Shopping is supposed to be fun, right? But, good news! By sourcing and consigning vintage or secondhand treasures through a trusted reseller, you can shop circularly simply and stress free. These three pillars – vintage, secondhand, and consignment – are fundamental, fashion-forward threads of the larger tapestry that is mindful living (style connoisseur or not). The minimalist strategy of ‘one in, one out’ works wonders for both one’s mind and wardrobe – after all, you should feel good, not guilty, about your purchases!

Photographed by Tierney Gearson, Vogue, September 2019

As every fashionista knows, shopping vintage or secondhand does not mean eschewing trend-led style for grandma – for lack of a better word – chic. Rather, it sends a potent message to designers that long-lasting quality, ethical manufacturing practices, and sustainable materials are what is à la mode; while, at the same time, it opens up your wardrobe doors to a Narnia-esque land of pure, archived, timeless fashion (John Galliano for Dior! Tom Ford for Gucci and Yves Saint Laurent! ‘90s Vivienne Westwood corsets!) A one-of-a-kind (or almost) vintage piece is always the ultimate outfit trump card. And beautifying, as opposed to depleting, the planet is always good.

Photo: Stella McCartney, Winter 2017 Collection, Ad Campaign Shot in a Scottish Landfill

For Stella McCartney, “The future of fashion is circular.” This is undeniably true. Yet, embracing circularity could also not be more of-the-moment – there are already more than 76,000 posts under #circularfashion on Instagram, for example, and the hashtag is closely related to the perpetually trending #fashionrevolution and #consciousfashion, among others. Making conscious investments and embracing your own personal, ever-evolving style is key to circular, enduring fashion. Whatever your look, choosing – and either holding on to or, later, consigning – pieces that uniquely reflect you, plays a central role in contemporary circular style.

Imagine: forever – not fast – fashion. And, if you will, think about it sooner rather than later.

Photo: Stella McCartney, Skin-Free-Skin, Winter 2017

Written by Anna Villani
Anna Villani is a fashion writer based in Copenhagen
The people pictured are not associated with The Archive
or The Vintage Bar, and do not endorse the products shown.