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A learning journey building capacity, capability and collaboration among trailblazers to shape a regenerative future for fashion
The fashion system needs urgent and radical rethinking to make it fit for a future in which we address the interconnected challenges of climate change, environmental degradation, and inequality. Trailblazing ventures have an important role to play in that change.
In 2020-21 we scoped, designed, and delivered Rethink Fashion: a learning journey with a cohort of pioneering ventures to accelerate the transition to a regenerative future. The journey was hosted by the RSA, in collaboration with the Ellen MacArthur Foundation and a cross-sector faculty of guest contributors from fashion and systems innovation.
Thanks to People’s Postcode Lottery Dream Fund and the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s Make Fashion Circular initiative, for supporting this work. Special thanks to the Rethink Fashion cohort and the guest contributors and faculty.
Fashion trailblazers outside the mainstream have a vital role to play in systemic transformation; as ‘positive deviants’, they offer glimpses of a potential new, emerging future system now. But leading these ventures can be isolating and demanding work – and to transform fashion, we need many trailblazers and complementary ventures operating together across different parts of the system. Building a collaborative field of practice provides support and amplifies impact.
The challenge and opportunity
Pioneering ventures can shape markets with new business models and offers, but they cannot succeed in isolation; each plays a role among many. For transformation they need to operate together as a field.
Rethink Fashion set out to build capacity and support collaborations for greater collective impact, and in doing so to influence wider change in the fashion system.
Find out more in our Changing Fashion report which shares our approach and learning from the project.
Meet the Rethink Fashion cohort
Meet our cohort of trailblazers, from a diverse range of backgrounds, skillsets, and parts of the fashion system: manufacturing, textile design, material development, marketing, journalism, community organising and more. All are creative innovators working on initiatives which tackle the extractive and linear status quo in the fashion system yet each is addressing different challenges in different ways. Together they are system-shifters.
The Rethink Fashion journey has helped me discern and develop the way I work: really driving a shift to regenerative practices and making it possible for others to be a part of that journey. My experience helped myself and my business partner to articulate our desire to drive a paradigm shift towards regenerative leather practices.
We tracked our impact across three layers: the trailblazers and their ventures, the cohort as a collaborative field of practice, and the wider fashion system the individuals and cohort are part of and looking to shift. Across each of these we have mapped signals of impact and evidenced the outcomes of the learning journey.
Funders and partners