More than 100 billion garments are produced each year. 15 percent of the materials produced in the process go to waste. What if there was a marketplace where brands and designers could buy leftover materials from manufacturers to create new clothes?
Factories that stitch clothing for fashion brands produce up to 100 tons of textile leftovers every month, and the reasons go beyond simple planning errors.
“Clothing manufacturers want to keep their customers happy. They deliberately plan for overproduction so they can quickly sew new garments to replace any defective ones,” says Ann Runnel, founder of Reverse Resources, an online marketplace where leftover fabrics are displayed by quality and application areas. Ann wants to put manufacturers in touch with brands and designers who want to use their leftovers. But coordinating this is a big challenge.
On a volunteering trip, Ann made contact with a clothing factory in Bangladesh, and from that meeting emerged the idea of an online market for textile leftovers.
Since winning the Global Change Award Ann and her team have carried out extensive research among factories in China and Bangladesh, and put together a white paper with their learnings. They’ve discovered that the volume of leftovers moving out of the supply chains of big fashion brands far exceeds what is expected by the brands.
The team is currently in the middle of a second pilot project in three factories in Bangladesh, and starting third pilot in Sri Lanka to demonstrate the applicability and scalability of their remanufacturing concept in mass-production. The results look promising – hundreds of yards of fabric savings are made from switching small details of fabric in garments with leftover fabrics from previous production rounds.
The team is very close to proving business case for their software solution to make leftover fabrics visible, usable and traceable through the new circular supply chains of fashion.
“Global Change Award helped us open doors to build a network and access such confidential information in different points in the supply chains, that has been critical for us to develop the concept from an idea to actual business case. It has also helped us to grow our minds to think much bigger than we would have dared otherwise,” says Ann.
Owners of idea: Aili Aamisepp, Dea Oja, Urmas Pappel, Neeme Praks and Ann Runnel
Innovation name: Reverse Resources