Today, sustainable fashion designers have no other option but to operate within the linear retail system, which is based on low production prices, mass production and disposable items. A few Antwerp-based designers have joined forces to give circular fashion, design and lifestyle a boost through an innovative business model. Via the set-up of a cooperative partnership they aim to collaborate throughout the chain, thus allowing for economies of scale and broadening their reach. The idea is to offer services, such as repairs, that individual members cannot possibly offer on their own.
The cooperative company with a social purpose Close Buy will be an autonomous organisation of entrepreneurs specialising in circular fashion, design or lifestyle who voluntarily decide to join forces to defend their joint economic, social and societal interests through a jointly owned business venture they control democratically.
The physical shop will be shared and the designers that are partners will take turns to run the shop. They can use the remaining time to focus on the creative side of their business.
If the opportunity arises and space permitting, other things can be shared too, such as working areas, photoshoot locations, showrooms and other facilities, which can drastically reduce occasional excessive costs.
The cooperation will organise group purchases of sustainable raw materials. As these raw materials are often only available for purchase in large batches, they are expensive for individual players.
Part of the production could also be done in-house, and the service model is also a possibility. For a single fashion designer, setting up a repair or tailoring service is never cost-effective.
This project allows for an exchange of materials and know-how, and cross fertilisation of innovation.
By eliminating the traditional third party (the retailer), there is direct contact between the producers and their consumers.
Moreover, by selling sustainable products from a single space, you make things easier for consumers, because if they are looking to make sustainable purchases, all they need to do is head to that one place. This will turn Close Buy into a circular hotspot, a one-stop-shop for sustainable shopping.
We believe this cooperative partnership could well become a game changer, with the potential to push circular fashion out of its niche position. Following a successful launch in Antwerp, the idea can be rolled out in other cities.