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Asos launches second circular design collection and trials partnership with Thrift+

By Danielle Wightman-Stone


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Image: Asos

Online retailer Asos is pushing forward with its sustainable initiatives with its second circular design collection featuring more than 40 products made from recycled, renewable, or innovative materials, alongside a trial partnership with clothing resale service Thrift+.

The spring/summer 2022 circular design collection is made up of 47 pieces, featuring a mixture of menswear, womenswear and unisex clothing and accessories, as well as jewellery made from brass post-consumer waste. Each have been designed to specifically cater for its fashion-loving 20-somethings audience, while also meeting Asos’ circular design criteria, which is based on the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s vision for a circular fashion economy.

This means that all the products in the collection are made from safe and recycled or renewable materials, or innovative materials, such as Texloop RCOT, a 50 percent pre-consumer recycled cotton and 50 percent organic cotton mix, and Tencel Lenzing Refibra, which uses technology to upcycle cotton scraps into a cotton pulp that is then mixed with wood pulp from sustainably managed forests to create a virgin-quality Lyocell fibre.

Asos’ head of design, Nick Eley, added at the circularity roundtable that all the products have also been designed for reuse, such as "unisex or revisable styles that have got more than one use," as well as products that are recyclable, "either mono-material so that it can be recycled in one or it has to be made for disassembly, which means you can take all of the components off and recycle them all individually".

Additionally, all denim must meet Asos’ commitment to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s Jeans Redesign Project. This includes a set of guidelines that provide an ambitious industry standard for circular denim, such as being designed for durability, made from 100 percent pre-consumer recycled materials and removable buttons to ensure that jeans can be effectively recycled.

Eley also explained that some of the products were designed using digital 3D technology, which reduces the need to manufacture samples in the design process.

Asos expands circular design collection for SS22

Asos’ first circular design collection in September 2020 was very much a trial and involved a small number of teams that had progressed through its circular design education programme. For the latest collection, Asos reveals that every commercial team across the company was involved in the creation of the products launching online, reflecting the wider rollout of circular design education across its teams.

It follows the publication of its 112-page Asos Circular Design Handbook created with the Centre for Sustainable Fashion at London College of Fashion to help Asos’ teams and external designers, students and fashion brands design and create fashion products that support the circular economy.

Vanessa Spence, commercial design and visual director at Asos, said: “To have a successful commercial future, the fashion industry needs to be both sustainable and circular. Over the past few years, we’ve been working with our partners and experts to discover how we can be more circular - one of our new 2030 Fashion with Integrity goals.

“The launch of our second circular design collection, which uses innovative new materials and takes our circular design criteria one step further, is a great moment for us as we continue to develop our expertise in this area.”

Image: Asos

Asos unveils second circular design collection

For the second circular design collection, Asos has tried to make the pieces “young and relevant” for its 20-something core audience, with summer pieces including cut-out detail dresses, oversized, colour-blocked shirts, boyfriend jeans, and tailored pieces and jackets, alongside printed headscarves and sunglasses. They all utilise this season’s key colours such as burnt orange, lilac, and apple green teamed with undyed neutrals and indigo denim, as well as retro floral with wavy checkerboard prints.

Eley added: “We pride ourselves on being able to react to the latest Instagram or red carpet trend and getting it in as quickly as possible. Those types of things tend to have quite short lifecycle, so, what we're doing very conscious of for this collection is to look at prints, colours and shapes which have a lot more longevity.”

Highlights include adaptable items, such as a 3-in-1 playsuit that have been knitted with a technique that minimises yarn waste, which can be worn as a dress or switched into a separate top and skirt using the buttons down the middle, and a 3 in 1 detachable popper playsuit in a bold floral print that can be worn as a playsuit or a shirt and shorts.

Image: Asos

There is also an open back dress made with 100 percent organic cotton and natural dye, a reversible cotton T-shirt with a floral print that utilises a technique called halftone, which means the print is made up of dots to reduce the amount of ink needed, and a relaxed revere shirt in geo floral print that has been designed to be unisex so that it can be worn by more than one person.

Asos announces trial partnership with Thrift+

Alongside the launch of its new circular collection, Asos is trailing a partnership with Thrift+ trial, where customers can request a free Asos x Thrift+ bag on its website and send unwanted clothes to Thrift+ to sell on its platform. In exchange, Asos’ customers will receive credits that they can either donate to charity, use to purchase second-hand fashion on Thrift+ or redeem as Asos vouchers.

Spence added: “Of course, design is just one piece of the circular puzzle – and to be truly circular, products must pass through circular systems as well as meet our circular design criteria. While resale is just one such system, we’re proud to be launching a new trial in collaboration with Thrift+ today, to extend the life of products by enabling them to easily and conveniently be resold.”

Asos has confirmed that the first phase of the trial will feature 30,000 bags. The fashion retailer will also work with Thrift+ to receive data on what products are being sent back to put that information back into its design process to enhance its circular strategy.

Thrift+ founder Joe Metcalfe, said: “We are delighted to support Asos’ progress towards circularity with the launch of this trial. Making it easy for people to responsibly get unwanted clothing back into circulation is key to making fashion more circular, and it’s hugely exciting that Asos customers will now have the Thrift+ service at their fingertips.

“We’re looking forward to measuring the impact of the trial, such as the number of items re-sold and the amount raised for charity; as well as feeding data on the success of item resale back into future circular product design.”