Monday, October 2, 2023

Reformation Sets 2030 Circularity Target: ‘There’s a Lot More We Can Do’


In its latest impact report, sustainable Los Angeles-based fashion label Reformation says it will be fully circular by 2030.

“100+ billion clothing items are produced every year,” Reformation says on its website. “That’s a lot of stuff.” And as part of the label’s sustainability commitments, it’s aiming to increase its circularity efforts and decrease the number of new items produced.

“And even though we’re throwing away 90 million tons of textiles each year, 110 million tons of new fiber is produced,” the label says, pointing to data from the nonprofit

Sustainability commitments aren’t new to Reformation. “We’ve been into circularity since before it was really a thing,” the label says. “It’s a big part of Ref – from our
business model, to our love for vintage and deadstock, to recycling things we make.

Courtesy Reformation

“But even as a brand founded on sustainability, there’s a lot more we can do to incorporate circularity into who we are, and everything we make.”

Since its launch in 2009, the brand has been committed to upcycled materials, using deadstock, scraps, and recycled fabrics among other efforts. Its RefRecycling buyback program keeps clothes in circulation or recycles them into new garments. In 2020, it pledged to be Climate Positive by 2025. The certified Climate Neutral company has been measuring its emissions annually, offsetting them 100 percent.

Now, the label says it will be fully circular by 2030 to help reduce the amount of new textiles produced. According to the new report, 16 percent of the business is currently circular, 15 percent of its materials are textile-to-textile recyclable, 68 percent of materials were recycled, regenerative, or renewable, and 17 percent of materials were deadstock or utilized next-gen fabrics.

“Sustainability has been so integral to our DNA from the beginning,” Kathleen Talbot, chief sustainability officer and vice president of operations at Reformation, told WWD.

“We’re not trying to create our own measuring stick,” Talbot said. The brand works with verified science-based targets via the Carbon Disclosure Project.

reformation dress
Courtesy Reformation

But the brand produced 36,822 metric tons of CO2e in 2022 — an 8 percent rise over 2021.

“There’s two things there to unpack,” Talbot told WWD. “We have intensity targets with the Science Based Targets [Initiative] for our Scope 3 emissions. Because we’re not a heritage and mature business, we know we’re going to be growing. Our total emissions from 2021 to 2022 went up 8 percent, but our business grew nearly 5 times that. We’re really committed to say we need to bring down the carbon intensity of our products. You can still decarbonize in line with these targets even as you are growing and establishing the company,” she said.

Reformation’s circularity approach is three-pronged. First, it says it will “plan, design, and produce smarter to create less waste in the first place.” Second, it will circulate its products to keep its stuff around “for a long time.” This includes collecting textile waste “every step of the way,” for new materials and products. And lastly, it says it will work in a climate positive way, using “renewable and regenerative practices for necessary virgin materials so they have a net positive impact on the planet.”

Reformation’s vision aligns with the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s broader concept of a circular economy, which eradicates waste and pollution, promotes the circulation of products and materials, and nurtures nature’s regeneration.

Reformation crewneck sweatshirt
Courtesy Reformation

The brand already primarily utilizes organic cotton, viscose, and Lyocell, but with its new commitments say it will pivot away from virgin fiber usage due to its high water and emissions footprint and work with recycled or upcycled materials as much as possible. Reformation is also reevaluating its silk and leather use. Even though Working Group-certified leather constitutes 7 percent of Reformation’s sourcing, the impact on the environment is significant.

Talbot says that Reformation’s material mix is representative of its commitment to comprehensive sourcing transitions.

Circularity is a “super complex and nuanced subject,” the label says. “A commitment like this sounds great, but we want to be accountable to actually doing it,” it says. It’s partnering with the circularity measurement tool Circulytics to track its efforts. Reformation says it will make its progress public through quarterly reporting.

“2030 is right around the corner, but we like a challenge,” Reformation says. “We know that we’ll probably have surprises and misses along the way, and we’re okay with that. We will own up to them in places like our Sustainability Report. We’ll also update this roadmap as we figure out how to go circular, to help anyone else who wants to do this.”

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