New Cotton Project harnesses collaboration to demonstrate a circular model for commercial garment production by bringing together twelve pioneering players from the entire supply chain.
We meet with Melanie Hughes, PR Consultant for the project’s partner Fashion for Good, to talk about her role in the project and the future of circularity in the fashion industry.
Please give an overview of your company and job role.
I work as a PR Consultant for the innovation platform Fashion for Good. Fashion for Good is a global initiative working to inspire change and drive the collective movement to make fashion a force for good. Through their Innovation Platform, they work directly with the fashion industry to innovate towards solutions that are better for people and the planet, also helping to empower behaviour change through the sustainable fashion museum.
What is your participation in the New Cotton Project?
Fashion for Good’s role in the New Cotton Project focuses primarily on communications, dissemination and knowledge transfer. The New Cotton Project ultimately aims to inspire the fashion industry to transition away from a linear model towards a circular mode of production, so external communication is key to help drive awareness and engagement with relevant audience groups such as industry professionals, policymakers and the general public.
What challenges and pitfalls arose in the New Cotton project?
When the project initially launched, it was the first to attempt a circular production model of this scale and scope, aiming to demonstrate a completely new way of working for the fashion industry. Bringing together players from across the value chain to adopt a new, more collaborative and integrated way of working was the initial challenge for the consortium. Building effective, transparent communication and trust between all the stakeholders has been key to ensuring the consortium has been able to build a successful circular ecosystem together.
Where do you see the greatest opportunities in collaboration?
Effective cross-sector, multi-stakeholder collaboration is key to driving the fashion industry towards a more circular and sustainable way of working. No individual player can deliver impact alone. In order to change the way the industry operates, we need to develop more collaborations like the New Cotton Project, which can really demonstrate how we can evolve towards adopting circularity at scale. I think showing that this can be done, and inspiring others in the industry to adopt this approach, is one of the greatest opportunities for the project.
Where do you see the future of circularity in the fashion and textiles industry?
Circularity is the future of the fashion industry. It’s been clear for quite some time that the industry can no longer continue to operate a linear model. We need to adapt and evolve our way of operating to transition towards circularity at scale, from the design process to material choices, circular business models along with consumption habits. It’s essential that we fully embrace a circular mindset and practices to lay the foundations for a fashion industry that will be fit for the future.