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Driving Circular Design: The Australian Circular Fashion Conference

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Driving Circular Design: The Australian Circular Fashion Conference

When I was a precarious university student, I remember constantly having ample opportunity to think and delve into wondrous thought paths. I had a wonderful combination of naivety, energy, and optimism. Some may even say that I was a dreamer. And I remember with all of those favourable conditions, I developed the concept of a circular universe around us. Probably inspired by Newton’s third law, the concept of karma, and let’s be honest, The Lion King’s notion of the circle of life, I found this circularity logical and completely fascinating.

I remember that this all made sense in nature, but did not seem to apply in a man-made world, where more often than not, things moved in a linear manner that could never come around full circle. A great example today is fashion, how a gigantic amount of resources are poured into this great machine only for its output to be of less value than what was put in.

But thankfully, it appears that my notion of the universe is becoming restored, as the critical concept of ‘circular economies’ has begun to be championed by talented individuals and organisations. One such talented individual and organisation is Camille Reed, who has founded the Australian Circular Fashion (ACF), which is spearheading Australia’s first ever, industry-only, conference focussed on fashion sustainability and providing support for future economic growth in the country’s fashion retail businesses.


For those needing a reminder, the fashion industry is a top five most polluting industry in the world, with Australian consumers being amongst the most guilty of overconsumption and waste. What the ACF are doing is a most welcome sight, and based on the calibre of speakers and attendees lined up, I’m hoping this could be looked back at as a critical turning point for the state of the Australian fashion industry.

Speakers such as Clara Vuletich, Gordon Renouf, Lisa Heinze, Andrew Sellick, Graham Ross, and many more will be sharing their expertise and knowledge at the conference. Australia’s biggest retailers such as KMart, Target, Workwear Group, Country Road, Spell & The Gypsy Collective, Tigerlily, General Pants, Forever New, and more will be in attendance to learn more on the future adoption phase and growth strategies of circular design that will enable them to be more sustainable and economically viable.

“Some 1 in 6 retail fashion companies are embracing sustainable and environmental practices and there’s a belief that the government has a critical role to play in supporting them,” explains Ms Reed.

At Ethi, we are firm believers that businesses need to make an impact on more than just their bottom line, and that social and environmental impact needs to have just as much focus. This was one of the key drivers for starting Ethi in the first place, we needed to walk the walk. We also recognise that these elements are beginning to come full circle - that businesses that neglect social and environmental responsibilities will suffer economically. This is echoed by ACF.

“Economic viability was an outright winner when business growth in fashion retail companies was compared to losing connections with customers, market awareness, and many other liabilities,” Ms Reed said.

Ethi will be attending the ACF conference and we can’t wait to work with industry to propel Australian fashion retail. There is so much to gain for all involved by building circular design into the fashion industry. A circular economy benefits all and not only that, but it restores the balance in the universe. 

If you are in the industry and are interested in attending the ACF conference, there are limited tickets remaining so get in quick! For more information and tickets, visit

This article was written by Jimmy Zhong, founder of Ethi. 

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