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Did you know that more than 80 per cent of a garment’s impact on the environment is actually decided at the drawing board? With wise choices all the way from fibre choice to finished garment, we can use less resources.

One of the fashion industry’s biggest challenges is achieving the transition to a circular economy, which basically means closing the material loop so that the materials that circulate are safe for people and the environment, and so that the amount of waste generated is kept down.

Newbie is a part of the KappAhl group and at the headquarters in Mölndal, Sweden, all designers, buyers and pattern-makers are busy producing about 8,000 unique items annually. Looking to a circular future, the aim is for the environmental footprint of each product to be as small as possible.

Five sustainability criteria that guide our efforts

To ensure that every step in the process is as sustainable as possible, we make use of our Sustainable Product Scorecard. This is based on five criteria, which guide us in making sustainable decisions at every stage of the design process through to a sale-ready product.

  1. Choice of material. The materials we choose are crucial from a sustainability perspective. By using organically grown cotton, recycled polyester or Tencel™, for example, we greatly reduce our use of water, energy and chemicals, as compared with conventionally manufactured materials.
  2. Circular fashion. Will the material and the details in the garment be recyclable at the end of its wearable life? If we can answer “yes” to that question, we will be contributing to circular fashion consumption.
  3. Design and useful life. How can we extend the useful life of the garment? This may mean timeless design and using quality materials that last a long time. But also features such as reinforced knees, or intentionally designing garments with high second-hand value.
  4. Materials consumption. With careful thought about how we design, construct and lay out patterns, we can minimise how much fabric we use and reduce fabric wastage.
  5. Processes such as printing, dyeing and various industrial pre-washes may cause serious environmental impact. Here we need to take care to reduce the volume of water and chemicals used by opting for more sustainable techniques.

The Sustainable Product Scorecard and the five criteria allow us to rate the sustainability of products before they go into production. They also serve to guide our product development, allowing us to manage and rate the effect of our sustainability efforts at product level.