Textile Companies Going Circular — Highlights 2017

36 sustainable fashion & textile companies working towards circular business models.

There are signs all around us — planet Earth has finite resources and we are quickly exhausting and or polluting them all. In order to combat this, some consumers and companies are taking strides towards ethical and sustainable practices such as buying and selling Fairtrade and organic products. Unfortunately, the old “take, make and dispose” model is not getting us out of this mess, no matter how organic the products may be. We need to move towards zero waste across the globe and we need to move fast.

First, some bad news from the retail world

The retail and fashion industry has a long and painful rap sheet when it comes to sustainability. Take a look at a few statistics:

  • It’s reported that 70 million trees and 70 million barrels of oil are used to make polyester each year, which then takes more than two centuries to decompose.
  • Growing cotton uses 24% of insecticides and 11% of the world’s use of pesticides.
  • The apparel industry is second largest industrial polluter, second only to oil.
  • Cheap synthetic fibres emit gases like N2O, which is 300 times more damaging than CO2.
  • Plastic microfibres shed from our synthetic clothing account for 85% of the human-made material found along ocean shores, threatening marine wildlife and ending up in our food supply.
  • The fashion industry is the second biggest polluter of freshwater resources on the planet.
  • A quarter of the chemicals produced in the world are used in textiles.
  • 80 billion pieces of clothing are thrown away every single year. That’s 400% more than just 20 years ago.

“Nothing is lost, nothing is created, everything is transformed” -Antoine Lavoisier.

A short introduction to Circular Fashion

The concept “circular fashion” is based on principles of circular economy and sustainable development, and relates to the fashion industry in a wide sense, i.e. not only to fashion but also apparel, sportswear and outdoor wear. Garments as well as shoes and accessories are in focus. The sixteen key principles of circular fashion concern the entire lifecycle of a product, from design and sourcing, to production, transportation, storage, marketing and sale, as well as the user phase and the product’s end of life. Based on the circular economy framework of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, a coherent definition of “circular fashion” is here proposed:

Circular fashion can be defined as clothes, shoes or accessories that are designed, sourced, produced and provided with the intention to be used and circulate 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.” (Dr. Anna Brismar, 2017, circularfashion.com).

Progress from big name brands

Some well-known multinationals such as Nike, Adidas, H&M and Levi Strauss are developing new and efficient product design and manufacturing technologies, low-carbon impact materials, repurposing waste, recycling programs and contests, in-store repair services, and more. All of these efforts are steps in the right direction and we’d like to see more from them!

“This isn’t a trend. This is the new standard.” — Zady.com.

Business owners want to become more sustainable

The circular model is not only smart for the planet, but it’s smart for business too. “Research shows that sustainability is a mother lode of organisational and technological innovations that yield both bottom-line and top-line returns.” (HBR). To learn more about circularity and sustainability for fashion brands, retail companies and textile organisations, you can start by visiting sites such as Circular Fashion The Relooping Fashion Initiative, The C2C Center or contacting Circular Economy consultancy services such as Green Strategy, Circular Economy Strategists, Thinkstep or Ethica.

What can consumers do?

We can start by participating in sharing, borrowing and swap opportunities, buy second-hand clothes, and stop paying attention to the latest fashionable trend cycles made up by old industry principles whose only purpose is to sell more clothes. If and when you need to buy a new garment or accessory, support companies working within the new circular economy!

Without further ado, here are 35 sustainable fashion & textile companies working towards circular business models.



For more than 30 years, Patagonia has set a precedent in corporate responsibility and circular practices while at the same time setting a benchmark in high-quality, sustainable activewear. Their values reflect those of a business started by a band of climbers and surfers, and the minimalist and utilitarian styles they promoted.

Based In: USA

Eco & Ethics Policies: Recycled & reclaimed materials, sustainable materials, fair trade certified, organic, longevity, provides a lifetime guarantee for all wares, clean energy & environmental efficiencies including using storm-water runoff, repurposing, product reuse, recycle & repair services (worn weare), responsible sourcing & transparency, 1% of sales to support environmental organizations, social responsibility & activism.

Product Range: Men’s & women’s outdoor apparel, swimwear, activewear.



Reformation’s garments are produced by responsible manufacturing partners using sustainable methods and materials. They source sustainable fabrics and upcycle vintage garments while incorporating better practices throughout the supply chain to make beautiful styles at a fraction of the environmental impact of conventional fashion.

Based In: Los Angeles, USA.

Eco & Ethics Policies: Green building infrastructure, clean energy, use of recycled paper hangers, recycled or donated textile scraps, 75% of all garbage is recycled (with zero waste as a goal), recycled grey water, packaging is plastic-free and made from 100% recycled paper products and they’re currently working to set up a carbon neutral shipping program.

Product Range: Woman’s apparel.



We do not view sustainability as a separate area within our operations — it is an integral part of everything we do. There is no inherent contradiction between sustainability and good business; on the contrary, sustainability is a prerequisite for good business. Nature is our most important resource. It is our livelihood and where we relax, play and feel good.

Based In: Sweden

Eco & Ethics Policies: Recycling, longevity, versatility, transparency, local & sustainable suppliers & production, fair trade, repair services, rental services, second-hand products for sale.

Product Range: Activewear.


TouchPoint is a forerunner in eco-design. In addition to insightful design, functionality, sustainability and comfort are in the core of our design-process. Beautiful endures time. The basis of our designing is 100-percent eco-materials, utilizing surplus materials, the sustainability and lifecycle of the product and a no waste paradigm. In addition to workwear we also design corporate gifts and recycled products that stand out for the advantage of your brand.

Based In: Finland

Eco & Ethics Policies: Longevity, recycled and repurposed materials, biodegradable materials, local & organic materials, water conservation.

Product Range: Workwear, accessories, bags.

Bonkeli Design (Swedish language website)


Through the use of a compostable and C2C-optimized fabrics of cotton, we avoid toxic emissions, chemicals on the skin, eliminates the concept of waste and closes thus a biological cycle. C2C takes a holistic approach to environmental issues include everything from renewable energy, transportation to social issues. Our work with the Cradle to Cradle has just begun! To close the cycle as needed also on society.

Based In: Sweden

Eco & Ethics Policies: Cradle-to-cradle (C2C) certified, biodegradable, organic, non-toxic, clean energy, eco-friendly shipping.

Product Range: Baby clothes.

Dutch Awearness


Dutch Awearness delivers circular workwear and corporate wear to companies that share their sustainable vision. Their professional clothing is designed for reincarnation. The Infinity (100% polyester) garments are suitable for use in the circular economy. For the materials that are not suitable for reuse on the same level, they have found a solution to reuse them as raw materials in new industries. These products, consisting of textile fibres and used plastics, are called Cliff.

Based In: Netherlands

Eco & Ethics Policies: Circular chain / zero waste, 100% recyclable garments, repurposing.

Product Range: Workwear & corporate wear.

Atelier & Repairs


Atelier & Repairs uses leftover, second-hand, defective and surplus items — both modern and vintage — to contribute to a global movement of excess reduction.

Based In: Hollywood CA USA & London, England

Eco & Ethics Policies: Up-cycled and re-purposed materials.

Product Range: Men’s and women’s clothing and accessories.



Smateria was started in 2006 by Elisa and Jennifer, two Italian women in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Their products are made from locally sourced up-cycled and re-purposed materials, such as mosquito net, fabric and plastic bags. Theirs is a social enterprise, employing Cambodians to make long-lasting bags and accessories.

Based In: Cambodia

Eco & Ethics Policies: Social enterprise, fair trade, up-cycled and re-purposed materials.

Product Range: Bags and accessories for women and children.



A consciously-minded retail + workshop studio based in Brooklyn, NY. While working with fashion for 10 years Karina Kallio was inspired to take action against the vast amounts of waste created by the industry. Kallio makes a modern yet classic kidswear line 100% made from re-purposed men’s shirts.

Based In: USA

Eco & Ethics Policies: Repurposed materials / upcycling.

Product Range: Kid’s clothes and accessories.

Sword & Plough


Sword & Plough is a socially conscious brand that works with American manufacturers who employ veterans. The company recycles military surplus, incorporates that fabric into stylish bag designs and donates 10% of profits back to veteran organisations.

Based In: USA

Eco & Ethics Policies: Repurposed materials / upcycling, environmental manufacturing processes, charitable partnerships, social responsibility.

Product Range: Bags.

Tidal Vision


Tidal Vision uses by-products from certified, sustainably managed fisheries. Their goal is to innovate sustainable ways to upcycle ocean byproducts in order to create wild, one-of-a-kind products that tell a story you can be proud of.

Based In: USA

Eco & Ethics Policies: Reclaimed materials, upcycling byproducts, all natural vegetable based tanning oils, sustainable production, longevity.

Product Range: Apparel & accessories.



Transforming scraps, dead stock and naturally spotted leathers into limited edition, refined collections, TRMTAB’s collections are proudly handcrafted by factory craftspeople in Northern India. The woven and chevron-stitched pieces are upcycled from leather trims, creating a unique blend of colour shades, textures and grains giving each product within the collection its own personality.

Based In: India

Eco & Ethics Policies: Upcycling.

Product Range: Bags & accessories.



A design brand on a mission: rescue premium excess materials and upcycle them into premium goods. Looptworks’ sustainable, eco-friendly products are made in limited editions, and in the process save materials from landfills or incinerators. Choosing upcycled goods over products made using virgin materials.

Based In: Portland, Oregon, USA

Eco & Ethics Policies: Upcycling, longevity, water conservation.

Product Range: Apparel, bags & accessories.



Insole intercepts old tires before they go to the landfills or are burned and pollute the environment. Their sourcing team visits garages and tire brokers in Indonesia to bring the materials back to artisans in the warehouse who use the rubber tires along with other materials such as organic canvas, banana leaves and grass. The repurposed, indestructible tires turn into the soles of some of the most durable footwear around.

Based In: Indonesia

Eco & Ethics Policies: Reclaimed materials, upcycling, longevity, natural materials, fair trade.

Product Range: Men’s & women’s shoes.

Salty Bag


Salty Bag uses decommissioned sails, giving them a new life and new value. Even after reaching their end of service at sea, sails will retain their strong, long-lasting, weather resistant nature — perfect for being upcycled into touch, elegant travel bags and accessories.

Based In: Corfu, Greece

Eco & Ethics Policies: Reclaimed materials, upcycling, longevity, vegetable tanning.

Product Range: Bags.

People Tree


People Tree partners with Fair Trade producers, garment workers, artisans and farmers in the developing world to produce ethical and eco fashion collections. People Tree sources as many products as they can locally, choosing natural and recycled products over synthetic and non-biodegradable materials. They ship many products by sea instead of air, and weave fabric by hand, reducing impact on global warming.

Based In: UK

Eco & Ethics Policies: Biodegradable materials, recycled materials, certified organic and Fairtrade, safe and azo-free dyes.

Product Range: Apparel, jewellery, accessories for women & men.



Ragbag is a brand for recycled, fair and fashionable bags and accessories, made in different places in India. Ragbags are made of recycled plastic bags, big teabags and cotton rags. These are collected and fabricated by ‘ragpickers’ and women’s groups in the slums of New Delhi and Calcutta and in a small village in Tamil Nadu.

Based In: India

Eco & Ethics Policies: Reclaimed materials, upcycling, fair trade.

Product Range: Bags.


TRIGEMA Change® is part of a new strategy towards healthy and environmental friendly clothing: Organic products made of 100% organic cotton optimized according to Cradle-to-Cradle® standards. All Cradle-to-Cradle-certified products made by TRIGEMA have been optimised for biological recycling in cooperation with the international environmental institute EPEA.

Based In: Germany

Eco & Ethics Policies: Organic, recyclable, Cradle-to-Cradle-certified, produced locally and fair.

Product Range: Sports , leisurewear, nightwear for women, men & kids.



Metawear is the first and only GOTS certified screen printer in the US, meaning their shirts have undergone scrutiny at every step of production, from fibre cultivation through screen printing. This certification guarantees that our supply chain is sustainable on both environmental and social levels.

They source only organic, fair-trade-certified cotton to make our Tees and our screen-printing process uses seaweed-based dye instead of chemicals. Our factory in Virginia uses geothermal and solar energy and pays all workers a living wage.

Based In: USA

Eco & Ethics Policies: Organic, recyclable, fair-trade certified, Cradle-to-Cradle-certified, produced locally and fair.

Product Range: Sports, leisurewear, nightwear for women, men & kids.

Tom Cridland


The 30 Year Sweatshirt, T-Shirt & Jacket, trousers and The Entrepreneur’s Shirt. The world’s top sustainable fashion brand making luxury clothing affordable. Tom founded his eponymous menswear brand upon the simple principle of making truly luxurious clothing and selling it direct to customer online.

Based In: UK

Eco & Ethics Policies: Longevity.

Product Range: Menswear.

Darn Tough


Every step of the knitting process happens right under one roof in Northfield, Vermont. Their quality and control yields a sock that is unparalleled in comfort, durability and fit. “Nobody ever outsourced anything for quality,” is why we’re still making our socks here in Northfield, Vermont. U.S.A.

Based In: Vermont, USA

Eco & Ethics Policies: Longevity, lifetime guarantee.

Product Range: Socks.



Flint and Tinder of the Huckberry family radically improved the Hoodie. The 10-year hoodie has an unshrinkable yet insanely comfortable fabric, upgraded metal hardware and structured fit. They made it entirely in America and kept it under a hundred bucks.

Based In: USA

Eco & Ethics Policies: Longevity.

Product Range: Hoodie.



We’re building a company that proves there is a better way. We’re making clothes what they should be: Clothes that fit. Clothes that feel great. Pieces that inspire.

Based In: New York, USA

Eco & Ethics Policies: Longevity, fair labor, recycled materials, careful choice of organic, natural fibres.

Product Range: Women’s apparel.



Vinted.com allows users to sell or swap pre-loved clothing, and aims “to make secondhand clothing the best and easiest choice.” Although Vinted takes a small fee when items are sold, users can swap items at no cost.

Based In: Worldwide

Eco & Ethics Policies: Sharing, swap, second-hand.

Product Range: Menswear, womenswear, uniforms, shoes, etc.



Swap.com allows users to buy and sell pre-loved clothing through their online consignment store located in Chicago. As of today there is 2 million secondhand items for sale on the Swap.com platform. What is really cool about Swap.com is that they are an online consignment store, meaning that transport emissions from individual sales are kept to a minimum.

Based In: USA

Eco & Ethics Policies: Second-hand.

Product Range: Menswear, womenswear, shoes, kids, toys etc.


Sweden is launching ShareWear, a part of the Democreativity initiative, that aims to inspire a sustainable way to be fashionable. It’s a ready-to-share collection with Swedish fashion pieces that you can borrow — but only if you share it forward. Including some of Sweden’s most prominent fashions brands, such as Filippa K, Hope, House of Dagmar, NIKOLAJ d’ETOILES, Uniforms for the Dedicated, Weekday and Whyred.

Based In: Sweden

Eco & Ethics Policies: Sharing, product as a service.

Product Range: Menswear, womenswear, uniforms, shoes, etc.

Lease A Jeans


With Lease A Jeans from Mud Jeans you always wear new, up-to-date jeans without owning them. Just wear them and after a year, or, when the jeans are completely worn out, you can send them to us. You can switch to a new pair. They recycle the old ones.

Based In: Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany

Eco & Ethics Policies: Leasing, repair services, recycling, certified organic cotton or recycled fibres, fair-trade, upcycling.

Product Range: Men’s & women’s jeans.

Femer (French language)


Marielle Philip has a small workshop on the coast of France, where she is tanning fish skins to turn them into leather. Marielle spent two years developing vegetable tannin recipes to establish a process that is 100-percent natural with zero waste.

Based In: France

Eco & Ethics Policies: Reclaimed local materials, longevity, zero waste.

Product Range: Fish leather & accessories.

Atlantic Leather


Atlantic Leather utilises byproducts from agricultural industries and the food industry, which would otherwise go to waste. They have been a leader in the development of fish leather; using Salmon, perch, wolffish and cod. The fish leather is stronger and more durable than the traditional leathers and it is made using renewable hydro and geothermal energy.

Based In: Iceland

Eco & Ethics Policies: Reclaimed materials, longevity, clean energy.

Product Range: Leathers for fashion industry.

Ananas Anam


Ananas Anam has developed an innovative, natural and sustainable non-woven textile called Piñatex™ made from pineapple leaves fibres. Piñatex has evolved from seven years of R&D to create a natural textile from waste plant fibres. Piñatex harnesses advanced technologies to create a totally sustainable high performance natural textile. Piñatex provides new additional income for farmers while creating a vibrant new industry for pineapple growing countries.

Based In: UK & Spain

Eco & Ethics Policies: Reclaimed materials, longevity.

Product Range: Piñatex™ Original is engineered to suit the making of bags, shoes and furnishing.


Lauffenmühle specializes in fabrics for workwear, protective wear and corporate wear with a careful eye on sustainability of the entire production chain up to the final product. They combine intensive research and development and work in close cooperation with renowned research institutes and partners within the supply chain in order to face the demands of the future.

Based In: Germany

Eco & Ethics Policies: Longevity, Cradle to Cradle certified, sustainable materials, resource-efficient production, reduced emissions.

Product Range: Yarns and fabrics.

M + N Textiles

M + N Textiles prime goal is to regulate light and energy with their fabrics for commercial applications. All fabrics contribute to optimizing: glare control, privacy and energy saving. Revolution® is made by extracting sugars from plants grown annually. The sugars are converted into a revolutionary material,which is now being used to produce ecologically advanced glare control fabrics.

Based In: Germany

Eco & Ethics Policies: Cradle to Cradle certified, renewable raw materials, recyclable material, longevity

Product Range: Yarns and fabrics.


re:newcell’s textile recycling technology transforms a high cellulosic portion fabric into recycled dissolving pulp (“re:newcell pulp”). The re:newcell pulp can then be fed into the commercial textile production chain. The process is cheap and does not require any chemicals that are environmentally harmful. Tests made on textile fibres from the re:newcell pulp have shown to be of a higher quality in comparison with the textile fibre made from other dissolving pulp made from wood.

Based In: Sweden

Eco & Ethics Policies: Recycling.

Product Range: Recycled cellulose fibres used for making new fabrics.

HBF Textiles


HBF Textiles addresses sustainable objectives through rapidly renewable and recycled fiber selection from local vendors and using fewer and/or non-toxic chemicals. All HBF Textiles scraps are collected and re-purposed. At their production and warehouse facility all plastic, cardboard, paper, cans, glass, metal, wood pallets, scrap fabrics, upholstery filling materials, and fabric tubes are recycled. Packaging materials are biodegradable, formaldehyde free paper and cardboard or post-consumer recyclable plastic bags. Marketing support materials are printed on post-consumer paper.

Based In: USA

Eco & Ethics Policies: Longevity, Cradle to Cradle certified, sustainable materials, resource-efficient production, reduced emissions, reduce, reuse and recycle.

Product Range: Fabrics.



Evrnu transforms discarded garments into beautiful fibers and provides a solution to the problem of textile waste. Evrnu’s patent-pending technology creates a regenerative supply of high-quality, bio-based fiber through the renewal of cotton garment waste. This breakthrough brings us one step closer to a new textile industry where “waste” is a viable new crop we harvest and create long-lasting beautiful garments from.

Based In: Washington, USA

Eco & Ethics Policies: Recycled material, integrated supply system.

Product Range: Recycled fibre.

This article is by Amelia Johannsen. Amelia Johannsen is a digital communications professional working on a variety of projects internationally. She is passionate about sustainable living and protecting the environment. As a freelance writer, she contributes to projects such as The Green Exchange, InnovationMangement.se and Handmade Barcelona.

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