Danish fashion group Bestseller has launched Fashion FWD Lab, an experimental sustainability center in Bangladesh, which focuses on developing new, environmentally friendly materials and circular business models, as well as innovative production technologies.
Bangladesh was chosen because a significant portion of the Bestseller’s total production takes place in Bangladesh, with a focus on cotton. That's why the Fashion FWD Lab partnered with GMS Composite Knitting, Bestseller’s largest jersey supplier in Bangladesh.
Furthermore, Bestseller states that the estimated amount of manufacturing waste in Bangladesh is 400,000 tons per year and that the country currently recycles less than five percent of its waste domestically.
"We are working on the ground in Bangladesh with one of our large, long-standing suppliers to ensure that our production waste is used in a closed-loop system, in a fully transparent supply chain. In short, this means that we collect the offcuts from our own brands and recycle them into new styles. We want to look at how we can keep the cotton waste in Bangladesh and set up viable circular systems there. Keeping the waste in Bangladesh, even with the same supplier, is beneficial from both an economic and environmental perspective, which we appreciate," says Camilla Skjønning Jørgensen, Sustainable Materials & Innovation Manager, Bestseller.
"Mechanical recycling of fabric scraps to make fibers has been around for a long time. However, traditionally these fibers have been downcycled and the resulting yarn written off as too 'low-grade' for the market. Our goal was to prove to the world that there is a tremendous opportunity to bring these fibers back into fashion," says Mustafain Munir, founder and director of Cyclo.
Another initiative that Bestseller joined in the early stages is the Circular Fashion Partnerships (CFP) launched by the Global Fashion Agenda. While the collaboration with Cyclo and GMS focuses on the immediate recycling of waste and its direct implementation in future collections, CFP works on a more structural level to implement effective waste stream structures.
Getting Bestseller's several fashion brands involved in these projects is one part of Fashion FWD Lab: So far, Bestseller brands Selected, Name It, and Vero Moda have been approved to participate in the long-running project. The first collections made from Bestseller's own waste will be ready in spring 2022.