Circular design. We’re pretty wild about it. You’ve probably heard this term mentioned every now and then, or maybe you’ve read it when researching sustainable and ethical fashion. 

It essentially refers to the design of something that doesn’t have a beginning, middle and end to its life cycle but is instead... You guessed it, circular. This means that when a product comes to the end of its use, it simply begins another stage of its life rather than becoming waste. 

This can be through a bio or tech design strategy, such as being compostable. It’s something that we’re conscious of when we’re designing at Roake, and there are so many awesome companies generating innovative approaches to circular design in fashion. The Ellen Macarthur Foundation’s mission is to accelerate a circular economy over a linear economy. You can find out more about the incredible work they do, here.

It is becoming increasingly clear that the huge carbon footprint of the fashion industry is catching up with itself - highly pollutant, consumer and growth driven, and unconcerned with livelihood at its worst.

However, all is not lost! There are some super exciting companies challenging these practices. Meet MUD Jeans - an innovative brand offering leasing subscriptions, zero chemical impact, free repair systems and circular recycling of old denim for starters. What’s not to like?!

Image Credit:  MUD Jeans

Image Credit: MUD Jeans

Speaking of innovative, let us introduce Teemill - an innovative organisation helping you to start a business that is truly circular in design. They provide business platforms and generate t-shirts made with GOTS certified organic cotton... on a wind powered farm... in an ethically accredited factory and... get this! They claim back their old t-shirts to regenerate fabric for new t-shirts! 


Image Credit:  Teemill

Image Credit: Teemill

At Roake, the lifetime of our designs is one of the most important parts of the design process. We want our products to be cherished over time, becoming like a trusty old friend that you can always rely on. Down to each fabric we choose, each silhouette we develop when drafting patterns - we’re concerned with the longevity of all that we make. This is an important aspect of circular design - considering the way a product will respond to your changing needs over time, such as being multi-functional, layer-able and adjustable - just like our latest addition, the Winnie wrap top. Wearing it wrapped at the back or front means that it can be dressed up or down, and layered during colder days and breathable during the warmer months.

Our Lizzy brass hair pin is plastic free, totally circular, made from recycled brass and completely recyclable, again and again and again. It’s also multifunctional! That’s the great thing about brass - our earrings can be recycled too, multiple times! AND they can last a lifetime, as brass is a resilient metal, hypoallergenic and looks pretty cute too! 

Our merino wool hats and cashmere are naturally biodegradable. Wool easily decomposes at the end of its life, releasing its valuable nutrients back into the ground in a relatively short period of time. This then feeds the grass, which feeds the sheep, who grow the yarn which makes the hats… and it all starts again!

It’s something that we could all consider in our daily lives. Not only when purchasing something new, but also when a garment is damaged or worn out, think about what else it could become or how you could revive it. Sashiko embroidery, visible darning, regenerating into scarves, new garments, composting, even cleaning cloths! 

A collaborative Journal post, with significant contribution from the lovely Laura Edmunds.

Further reading:

Roake Studio