British menswear brand Oliver Spencer has launched a new sustainability project to extend the life-cycle of fashion garments to reduce carbon footprint, while fostering sustainable consumer behaviours and promoting circularity in the fashion industry.
Entitled ‘Repurpose,’ Oliver Spencer claims that the “coming full circle” initiative is one of the UK’s first 360-degree circularity initiatives to extend the life cycle of a fashion garment by up-cycling, reusing, or re-purposing the garment and its constituent textiles.
Commenting on the project, Oliver Spencer said in a statement: “We’ve always thought of ourselves as an environmentally conscious brand but this latest project really helps us accelerate towards our sustainability goals.
“We’re big advocates of organic cotton, linen, and locally sourced wool, and we make all of our garments in Portugal or the UK, but we can always do more. Every year 300,000 tonnes of clothes go to UK landfill, and it’s getting worse. We’re a comparatively small fashion brand, which in one sense is lucky because we’re not faced with hugely damaging economies of scale, but nevertheless, we felt like we needed to keep exploring initiatives that would reduce our environmental footprint.”
The end-of-life product management system has been designed to incentivise customers to return pre-loved Oliver Spencer garments to recycle or sustainably dispose of in exchange for credit.
Depending on the condition of the garment and the materials it is constructed from, its end-of-life evolution can play out in several ways. For instance, single-fibre garments, such as those made from cotton or wool are processed, and their base material is shredded and decoloured to create pulp, which is eventually spun into new yarn that can be used in the creation of new garments.
However, for garments crafted from mixed fibres, Oliver Spencer has established a partnership with a social enterprise that also serves as an academic institution, to allow the brand to channel these fabrics into educational programmes where they can be upcycled or downcycled.
For footwear and accessories, the menswear brand added that all footwear is directed to a specialised facility where shoes are split into their sole units and uppers. Rubber soles are downcycled into faux leather or fully recycled into new sole units while uppers undergo a similar process. Other materials, such as plastics and metals, are separated and find new life in various applications, from playgrounds to furniture.