Recycle, upcycle and other business models for Slow Fashion

The real change for slow fashion goes beyond the sustainability and goes for the change in the business models. Which business models Slow Fashion proposes to be sustainable and slow the cycles?


It is obvious that Fashion cannot be studied as through its cultural and creative features only. It is also a business, a global one with a worldwide impact. It is globally in a literal way. Its different processes are normally done physically separated all around the world and mainly through subcontracted business causing among other problems labour exploitation. This is a problem which has been deeply studied and discussed, as shown for example in the documentary film The True Cost.


As a way to solve the business problems behind Fashion, slow fashion pretends to offer new models for business (You can be interested on: Slow Fashion, an alternative to globalisation). On the whole, slow fashion is defined for three main features: emphasizing local design and production; transparency and more direct intervention in the supply chain; and sustainable and sensorial long-life products which generate a higher value among consumers. To achieve this, there are new alternatives for the business models to be sustainable and slow the cycles. Among these are vintage, re-use and re-design, recycled materials, use of textile waste, design for longer life and further re-use, smarter clothing with technology innovation, repair and remodelling services, upcycle and vintage pieces, also transforming real rubbish into fashion, and a plethora of other options like creating products that can be shared among consumers and easily transformed by them, garments that can have different purposes, collaborations with other designers, and open source design.


Now, it is important to highlight the consequences of these models still have to be discussed. For example, Andrew Brooks in his book Clothing Poverty: The Hidden World of Fast Fashion and Second-hand Clothes stresses there are two things to be considered for the second-hand markets. First, the promotion of donation of clothes still means getting rid of the old clothes and thus promoting more consumption. Second, when the second-hand markets are oversees, there is an unethical distribution and provision system of new and used textiles that produces inequality after different patterns of commodity exchanges.


So, the next time your mom wants to throw away some broken socks stop her, amend the socks, upcycle them with some other pieces of textile, or just use your imagination to do something creative reusing them. It’s now your time to do some Slow Fashion.


Read you soon.


This post is inspired on an original dissertation essay about how slow fashion contributes to social economy. It was written for internal objectives for ICCE department of Goldsmiths College, University of London. If you want to read the whole essay or just debate the topic -which will be great-, please contact me at


To learn more about this topic I recommend you to read this resources, same which I used to write this post.

Black, S. (2008). Eco-Chic The Fashion Paradox. London: Black Dog Publishing.

Braham, P. (2007). “Fashion. Unpacking a cultural production”. In Barnard, M. (ed.). (2007). Fashion Theory/A Reader. Oxon: Routledge. Pp. 351-372.

Brooks, A. (2015). Clothing Poverty. The Hidden World of Fast Fashion and Second-hand Clothes. London: Zed Books.

Cassidy, T.D. et Han, S.L-C. (2013). “Upcycling fashion for mass production”. In Gardetti, M.A., et Torres A.L. (eds.) (2013). Sustainability in Fashion and Textiles. Sheffield, UK: Greenleaf Publishing. Pp. 148-163.

Clark, H. (2008). “SLOW + FASHION—an Oxymoron—or a Promise for the Future …?”. Fashion Theory. Vol. 12 (4). Pp. 427-446.

Ertekin, Z.O. et Atik, D. (2014). “Sustainable markets: motivating factors, barriers, and remedies for mobilization of Slow Fashion”. Journal of Macromarketing. Vol. 35 (1). Pp. 53-69.

Fletcher, K. (2014) Sustainable Fashion and Textiles. Design Journeys. (2nd edition). Oxon: Routledge.

Lázaro, M. (2014). Sustainability and Business Models in the Fashion Industry. Degree in Business Administration. Facultat de Ciéncies Juridiques i Económiques, Universitat Jaume I.

Styles, R. (2014). Ecologist guide to Fashion. UK: Leaping Hare Press.

The True Cost. (2015). Directed by Andrew Morgan [Documentary Film]. USA: Life Is My Movie Entertainment Company in association with Untold Creative.

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