Everything you need to know about Circular Fashion
Sustainability. Circular Fashion. Closed Loop. Eco-conscious. Green. There are a lot of buzzwords that circulate around the internet that basically try and tell us where on the environmentally-friendly spectrum brands land.
If you’ve stumbled upon Cubbiekit and had the opportunity to read what we stand for, then you’re aware that we take sustainability very seriously. Cubbiekit is one of the first circular-fashion brands that takes the time and guilt out of shopping for new better basics for your baby through our closed-loop, circular fashion program.
If you’re not familiar with circular fashion, we’re here to give you the TLDR (aka the busy parents’ way) summary about what it means to be a circular fashion brand.
First and foremost…
What is Circular Fashion?
Circular fashion refers to products within the fashion industry that are “restorative by intention; aims to rely on renewable energy; minimise, tracks and eliminates the use of toxic chemicals; and eradicates waste through careful design”
In a less fancy way, it basically means waste is minimized, resources are recirculated and renewed, while reducing greenhouse gas emissions, waste, and pollution.
How does Circular Fashion Work?
Circular fashion leverages post-production waste to create new products. Waste is viewed as a resource instead of the end-of-the-line in the supply chain. The same fabric that you receive after you purchase from Cubbiekit is the same fabric we use as raw materials in the production process. We collect it, shred it down into cotton bail, and respin it into new cotton.
(Yes, even that onesie with the gross baby stains can be re-spun into new cotton.)
Why don’t more people do it?
The process of “closed-loop” manufacturing isn’t widely pervasive. First, there are not that many producers that have the equipment necessary to actually reproduce yarns and threads with textile waste. Secondly, textiles made with blended synthetic fibers like polyester, spandex, elastane, etc. aren’t always able to be used in circular manufacturing. This is why circular fashion brands typically manufacture with pure, 100% natural fabrics like organic cotton and wool. Third, there is a fabric degradation problem, meaning that the fabric will become weaker overtime unless it is spun with new fibers. Fourth, fashion companies also follow seasonal colors and trends. When the fabrics are respun, unless they are chemically bleached, they are the same color as the original thread. This means they wouldn’t be able to release “new” colors unless the fabric is chemically bleached and re-dyed.
The final reason: it’s cheaper to not do it. The cost of collecting used clothing to renew and remanufacture is expensive and costs more than just buying new in the first place.
Here at Cubbiekit, we spent an entire year researching sustainable and ethical manufacturers and sourcing textile recyclers to build our collection of eco-friendly, circular fashion baby clothing. We’re a crew of pragmatic parents who believe that renewable clothing just makes sense with baby clothes -- because they grow so darn fast (and sh** literally happens)! While our clothing may be priced more than your everyday baby onesie from Amazon, it’s priced affordably at $15 per piece with a subscription and still honors the supply chain without the luxury price tag.
Why do we only accept our own Cubbiekit clothing and not all clothing?
For a few aforementioned reasons. The first reason is that we’re currently still a scrappy startup business and are not equipped to take every other brand’s waste. Trust us, a lot of people love an opportunity to de-clutter! The second reason is that we manufacture new Cubbiekit clothing with the same recycled materials. We have our own seasonless Cubbiekit colors and will continue to reproduce those same colors instead of blending it with other brands’ colors. Lastly, much of the baby clothing on the market is actually made with synthetic-blended fabric (ex. bamboo blended with rayon, organic cotton blended with elastane -- yup, even some of your favorite baby brands with “sustainable” “snug-fitting” clothing!) Our closed-loop partners can only use 100% cotton in their recycling process. We cannot take the chance of accidentally sending textiles made from any other material. The only sure-proof way to make sure of that is to use our own clothing.
How is circularity different from renting and recycling?
Recycling fashion typically means that the same item is repurposed for different uses. An example is when old clothes are cut up into industrial rags and sold to manufacturers to repurpose. Renting fashion can be considered circular fashion, but only to a certain extent. The process of renting clothes extends the life of the garments, but eventually, the clothes do end up in a landfill and produce a significant amount of carbon emissions through transportation.
To say nothing ever ends up in the trash is naive. Waste is produced in recycling. Waste is produced in renting. That last baby blowout which went up your baby’s back? Yes, that’s trashed or “donated” to a developing country where it is eventually trashed.
Circular fashion means the entire supply chain is designed to minimize and recirculate waste. At Cubbiekit, we use GOTS certified organic cotton and manufacturing partners to ensure the clothing is made ethically, free from toxic chemicals that are detrimental to the people making our clothes and the environment. This ensures that eventually at the end of a garment’s life, the clothes can safely biodegrade without harming the environment. We’re designing for the end, from the beginning to make sure what is returned to us can go into future baby clothing.