A circular fashion first  Circular fashion for everyone

In 2016, C&A worked hard to make circular fashion a reality. The first GOLD level Cradle-to-Cradle CertifiedTM T-shirts will hit our stores in Europe, Brazil and Mexico in Summer 2017. Four styles of Cradle-to-Cradle CertifiedTM tops will be available. Ladies’ tops in two different styles will be available in Europe, in 18 different colours, while two styles will be available for ladies and men in Brazil and Mexico. This is the first time we’ve driven a campaign globally on a particular product. 

newborn collection

 

These recyclable T-shirts are made of 100% organic cotton, with safe materials and chemicals and are produced in a socially and environmentally responsible way. Even the stitching is made from organic cotton and the dyes are 100% non toxic, allowing it to be fully compostable. Independent testing proves that they can be composted at home when no longer used. Composting can reduce the volume of organic waste quite significantly, while the compost produced can be used for agricultural and horticultural purposes.

These T-shirts were tested according to the European Norm EN13432 by Organic Waste Systems (OWS), a world leading company in the construction and operation of anaerobic digestion plants, who test the biodegradability and compostability of different types of materials.

They were made possible through close collaboration with our Indian suppliers at Pratibha and Cotton Blossom and with the support of the Fashion for Good Initiative.

The Cradle-to-Cradle CertifiedTM product standard is the only holistic, third-party standard able to certify circular products. It certifies all aspects of product manufacturing, from the sourcing of raw materials, through chemicals, water or energy used in manufacturing, how the product is designed for material reutilisation, to the social conditions in the value chain.

Read more about the Cradle-to-Cradle CertifiedTM Standard

The standard is organised around five criteria, each of which is assessed and certified. C&A has been awarded the first ever GOLD level by the Cradle to Cradle Innovation Institute, which means: 

  • Material Health - Products are made of 100% organic cotton, using chemicals optimised for safe recycling.
  • Material Reutilisation - Products can be recovered via composting, reuse or recycling.
  • Renewable Energy - 100% of the energy used in the production of the products has been renewably sourced. 
  • Water Stewardship - Suppliers completely recover and recycle waste water.
  • Social Fairness - The product manufacturing facility protects all of its stakeholders, by operating to the highest national social and labour standards available and by conducting programmes to benefit workers and community.

Partnering to create system change

The Fashion for Good Initiative is a global partnership that unites apparel producers, retailers, non-profit organisations, innovators and funders around this shared ambition. This year C&A became the first brand partner of the Initiative and through our partnership we aim to connect our supply chain and encourage our suppliers to adopt the innovations coming out of the initiative.

The Fashion for Good innovation hub in Amsterdam will focus on incubating and accelerating technologies that support circularity in the apparel industry. Working on an open-source model and fostering deep industry collaboration, it will nurture the technologies needed to start creating endless flows of fibres and clothing. More specifically, the partnership will provide research space, financial support and mentoring to those seeking to develop and commercialise next generation manufacturing technologies. 

Ultimately, the initiative will also support innovations that have the potential to fundamentally transform the industry to do more good.

Good Fashion Guide: Open source roadmap to C&A's C2C T-shirts

As part of our ambition to move towards sustainable fashion, we’re promoting the Fashion for Good's Good Fashion Guide, which will help suppliers understand what it takes to make Cradle-to-Cradle CertifiedTM  products. The open source guide is the first of its kind to make information on how to develop circular fashion products freely available. It covers all the elements of the Cradle-to-Cradle Products Programme, from chemicals to social fairness, outlining a roadmap and a complete list of materials. Since March 2017, the roadmap has been available online to help other organisations comply with the Cradle-to-Cradle Products Programme requirements. The learnings from our Cradle-to-Cradle CertifiedTM GOLD level T-shirt form the basis of the guide; we think it is important that these so to support the acceleration of Cradle-to-Cradle CertifiedTM concepts across the apparel sector.

Read how to replicate our C2C T-shirts here

A call to action for the supply chain

Through the process of creating the first GOLD level Cradle-to-Cradle CertifiedTM T-shirt, we recognize that in order to increase the uptake of this holistic method for circular economy in the apparel value chain we need to have additional manufacturers embrace the concepts.  In this light, our partner Fashion for Good created a self assessment tool for suppliers to use on their journey toward creating Cradle-to-Cradle CertifiedTM products.  Going forward we will also encourage our suppliers to use this tool in order to understand where they can make improvements over time. 

Learn more how the supply chain can use the Fashion for Good C2C Self-Check here

newborn collection

 

Specifc material and component challenges in circular fashion

We know there's a long way to go until circular fashion is the norm. As ever, the first step in our journey has been to learn from others and then pilot our own flagship programmes across our network. On the way, we have identified several ‘roadblocks’ to Cradle-to-Cradle CertifiedTM apparel which we will work to overcome by working with Fashion for Good and other partners. 

To make circular fashion the norm, we will need to find and develop:

  • A larger pool of Cradle-to-Cradle CertifiedTM dyes, inks and process chemicals
  • Alternatives to elastane
  • Antimony-free polyester and recycled polyester
  • More Cradle-to-Cradle CertifiedTM buttons, zippers, rivets and other embellishments

And we will also need to find ways of implementing Cradle-to-Cradle CertifiedTM concepts throughout different production systems, companies, cultures and legal regimes.

Above all we will need more supply chain partners and more brands and retailers to be involved and make the Cradle to Cradle Products Programme an accepted and recognised standard in our industry.

Where next?

Further innovation to create Good Fashion

Fashion for Good has a bold, ambitious innovation agenda with the power to shift the industry from doing ‘less bad’ to ‘more good’. The initiative has a good start and will focus in the following areas going forward.

  • Expand upon the Good Fashion Guide to provide an open source for how Cradle-to-Cradle CertifiedTM products can be produced at scale.
  • Expand the active community of experts, coaches and mentors.
  • Continue their scaling programme to encourage the widespread adoption of good fashion by scaling innovations.
  • Continue their early-stage programme in partnership with Plug and Play.
  • Expand upon their Launchpad Exhibition that engages and inspires thousands of visitors around Fashion for Good each year.


In-store Take-Back Programme

Following our long-term pilot in the Netherlands, which has collected 243,008,28 kilograms of clothing in total since its launch in 2012, we will further roll out our in-store Take-Back Programme in other European countries in 2017. We will also evaluate the possibilities of rolling out further in other locations in future years. 

More Cradle-to-Cradle CertifiedTM products in-store

Following the release of Cradle-to-Cradle CertifiedTM T-shirts this year, we will make more products available in store and online, across our global operations. This year, all retail markets will define how Cradle-to-Cradle CertifiedTM collections will be developed and launched in our retail stores going forward.

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