Between 2000 and 2015, the world’s clothing production nearly doubled. At the same time, the average service life of individual garments has been reduced by a third. It is projected, that by 2030 global clothing consumption will increase by 63%, which is equivalent to 500,000,000,000 new T-shirts.

Currently, total greenhouse gas emissions from textiles production are more than those of all international flights and maritime shipping combined. If everything continues as is, some estimates state that these emissions will rise by more than 60% by 2030.

No wonder the spotlight has turned on textile and fashion industries, which in turn have begun to eagerly look for more sustainable business models.

Consumption in good conscience?

For them, the basic dilemma is to find an optimal balance between the global growth of the textile fiber market due to the increasing demand and cumulative textile waste increase. Finding solutions for recycling unwanted and used textiles back to fiber production and piloting rental platforms are steps taken towards. Linear business is old business, circular economy, and closed-loop solutions future.

Many current rental applications of fashion brands emphasize flexibility, easy access to a large assortment, and the possibility to consume without owning and almost without limits. Carefully considered, this is not circular economy but rather access-based consumption, like car sharing. Renting clothes gives the impression of sustainability, but no one can really be sure, how sustainable it truly is. For example, how many times the rented garments are actually used, and how long they stay in circulation? How are they disposed?

As long as these questions remain unanswered, cynical critics can always argue that fashion rental is more of a guilt-free way of consumerism.

90 years old and more up to date than ever before

Although the rental model for consumers may still be in its infancy, in workwear the service business has been running strong for almost 90 years. Our workwear rental started in 1938 in Helsinki, Finland capital area. Today, we would call that activity a pilot of a new service.

In all honesty, in the early years, the environmental perspective probably didn’t play a crucial role in our business idea. Gradually, the environmental perspective has become an integral part of our resource and operations planning and our value proposition as well.

Our business model is built on circular economy model at its purest. It is an alternative to disposable items, owning textiles, and washing them home. We design for purpose and maximal lifetime, make clothes that are easy to repair and maintain and produce new pieces only for demand. In our operations, we recycle water, save energy, avoid unnecessary packaging, and optimize distribution. For decades we have made efforts to minimize our carbon footprint. Now we focus on minimizing the carbon footprint of our customers.

One can say that minimalism and clothing rental fits better to workwear than fashion: we don’t have to release several new collections per year and the users of our service don’t need a new look according to weekly feelings to be posted on social media. Nevertheless, we need to tackle prejudices and myths related to renting. Circular business and sustainability force us to rethink everything. Keeping the clothing in circulation in good condition for as long as possible and after they are all worn out, recycle textiles into new products by various means revolutionize the current clothing business in the end.

Anna-Kaisa Huttunen, SVP Ecosystems, Lindström Group |

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