Circular Economy

Sustainability performances: introduction to the Milano Unica classification (4)

This is the fourth of a series of 5 articles illustrating the classification of the sustainability performances of the samples of fabrics and accessories that will be exhibited in the "Sostenibilità Creativa FW 24-25" area. Sustainability performances are defined starting from 5 value areas: 1) Climate Action, 2) Chemical Safety, 3) Biodiversity Conservation4) Circular Economy, 5) Social Justice.


The circular economy is an economic system designed to self-regenerate and reuse materials in subsequent production cycles, minimizing waste. It contrasts with the linear economic model of "take-make-dispose", which is based on the accessibility of large quantities of material resources and energy that is wasted after use.


The limits to growth and the risk of depletion of natural resources have been discussed since the 1970s, with the publication of the world bestseller "The Limits to Growth" by the Club of Rome. However, the fashion industry has been oblivious to these concerns until recent years. The first use of the expression "circular fashion" dates back to 2014, and only in 2017, with the report "A new textiles economy: Redesigning fashion's future", did the interest in circular economy models for fashion suddenly raise the brands' interest and that of policymakers, particularly in the European Union. In just a few years, some of the fundamentals of the circular economy have found significant development, from the rapid growth in the use of recycled materials to the European standards on Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR), which have transformed the management of waste and the end of life of garments of clothing, to continue with the boom in "second-hand" clothing sales channels and digital platforms. Finally, the European regulation under discussion on Eco-design and the digital passport also falls within the dynamics of the development of circular business models.


In this context of rapid change, the selection criterion Milano Unica adopted in the Circular Economy value area focuses on three areas.

  • Responsible and circular management of textile waste
  • Use of recycled materials
  • Design practices for circular fashion.


In line with these principles, in the Milano Unica classification system, the Circular Economy label is awarded to a sample if the exhibitor's declarations reveal compliance with one or more of the above mentioned categories.


Finally, we remind the reader that the evaluation of the samples' compliance with the selection criteria is based on the exhibitors' declarations, for which a consistency check is envisaged and a verification of the correct attribution of the certification labels.