Propelling fashion forward with sustainable impact and an open-source guide to share knowledge.
The environmental and landfill impact of the fashion industry is unacceptable. But the problem is complicated and even when fashion brands want to do better, they do not have a roadmap to do so. From choosing materials, to design construction, to manufacturing methods, supply chain partnerships and product distribution, the solutions are complex and seemingly impossible to find within existing timelines and budgets.
The C&A Foundation and McDonough Innovation put a collaborative team of industry experts together, representing each step of the fashion product process, to find pathways to sustainability and to share that with the fashion industry. Designbox was asked to lead product design and manufacturing efforts, and worked with McDonough Innovation, MBDC and numerous manufacturing partners in India to realize a Cradle to Cradle Gold Certified set of shirts. This apparel not only set a new bar for garments but also led to the creation of the Fashion For Good Center and an open source manual for the industry on sustainable manufacturing.
Designbox led the product design, product development, and manufacturing strategy of the project, and authored these areas of the Fashion for Good open-source guide.
The global team of industry experts included:
• C&A Foundation (now Laudes foundation): Client and project co-lead
• McDonough Innovation: project co-lead
• Designbox: Sustainable Product Design and Manufacturing lead
• BCG: Sustainable Innovation Accelerator development lead
• Fashion for Good: home for Fashion Accelerator and C2C How-To-Guide team lead
The World’s First C2C Gold Standard T-Shirts
Designbox worked closely with McDonough Innovation, MBDC and numerous manufacturing partners in India to realize a Cradle to Cradle Gold Certified set of shirts. This first C&A Foundation project focused on realizing a C2C Gold Certification of two styles of t-shirts (and, thus, 2 manufacturing partners): a women’s form fitting t-shirt, and a cotton t-shirt. Designbox and MBDC led a team at factory site visits to each of the manufacturers in India. These site visits involved assessing the five different C2C criteria: materials, energy, water, social, post-life use and disposal.
Designbox worked to develop a cohesive supply chain and to source materials, develop and manufacture the shirts to this gold standard. We then designed 2 fashion-forward on-trend shirts from within this focused set of criteria, proving that fashion-conscious and fashion-conscience can be one and the same.
Considering the End of Product Life at the Beginning of the Design Process
The 2 T-shirts we designed were from 2 different materials streams: one biological and one technical. The 2 factories were integral partners on the team, and enabled us to add manufacturing requirements into the beginning of the design process. The Bill of Materials for each shirt was provided to MBDC for chemical assessment. Designbox worked with the factories to optimize the materials and processes to ensure a healthy, ultimately gold-standard, product. We also worked with the team to develop a material reutilization strategy, including recyclability and industrial composting.
To learn more about the Cradle to Cradle assessments, visit MBDC.
An Open Source Guide to Change the World
Fashion for Good describes the How-To Guide as an open-source tool that outlines the principles and criteria of the C2C Certified Products Program in order to inspire apparel manufacturers, brands and retailers to start their own C2C Certified journey by:
- Sharing learnings from the C2C Certified pilot project
- Showcasing best practices from real apparel manufacturers in short videos and in a more in-depth downloadable handbook
- Demonstrating what pursuing C2C Certified means for a business
- Providing a self-check tool that gives a first indication of an apparel manufacturer’s potential level of achievement in C2C Certified
By demonstrating exactly how good fashion is possible today, this C2C Certified How-To Guide aims to accelerate the vital shift to a Cradle to Cradle-inspired circular apparel industry; one that is socially, economically and environmentally beneficial.
Aly Khalifa of Designbox wrote many parts of the guide, including vital pieces concerning design process, materials sourcing and manufacturing methods.