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We are excited to share our newly published research in Design Studies: The refashion circular design strategy – Changing the way we design and manufacture clothes

There are many key factors that contribute towards the transition to a sustainable and circular fashion industry. My colleagues and I have addressed design and manufacturing in our article “The refashion circular design strategy – Changing the way we design and manufacture clothes” that has been recently published in Design Studies (available here free of charge).

In our paper we introduce a novel circular design strategy that enables multiple reutilization of fabric and enables sustainable product-service systems and circular value chains. We also show how circular design and flexible manufacturing technology complement each other and how the Internet of Things enables dynamic reconfiguration of manufacturing systems.

We will be continuing our research within the Circular Lab and delivering workshops to share the knowledge gained. Reach out to us if you are an educational institution that would like to host a workshop for their students where they can learn how to design and make circular fashion by applying the Refashion circular design strategy to their own designs.

We are proud to be part of the Circular Lab. The Circular Lab has started its activities on June 1, 2023. The central hub for the circular economy in the Lake Constance region is being funded by Interreg Alpenrhein-Bodensee-Hochrhein with two million euros. The six universities involved and more than 30 business partners contribute the same sum. More are welcome. The impetus came from researchers from the University of St.Gallen, who are co-leaders together with the Vorarlberg University of Applied Sciences.

Great success for the University of St.Gallen (HSG) and its project partners: In a multi-stage, two-year application process of the EU funding program Interreg Alpenrhein-Bodensee-Hochrheinthey prevailed. The concept of the Circular Lab (CLab) as a central hub for the circular economy in the Lake Constance region convinced those responsible. Interreg is funding the project with over 2 million euros until 2027. The Swiss project partners will receive around 1.2 million euros in funding from the federal government's new regional policy. Of this, EUR 0.55 million goes to the HSG, where the project was initiated in a collaboration between the institutes for business administration and computer science. The partners involved contribute around 50 percent of the total costs of around 4 million euros themselves. "We are very happy that we were able to convince with our application," says project manager Dr. Fabian Takacs. “In an interdisciplinary consortium, we aim to close technical and biological resource cycles.

The project is intended to make a significant contribution to the realization of the circular economy in the textile industry and the agricultural and food industry in the Lake Constance region. "We look forward to researching how AI-supported circular processes can support innovative business models for a circular economy," says Prof. Dr. Andrei Ciortea, Assistant Professor of Computer Science. All key points of the EU's Circular Economy Action Plan and the contents of the European Green Deal are addressed. The transfer of knowledge about the results and experiences should be ensured beyond the project period. Prof. Dr. Karolin Frankenberger, co-initiator and head of the Circular Economy Competence Center adds: "The Circular Lab starts with the companies and helps them to change their strategies and business models in such a way that they can contribute to the realization of a circular economy. I am really looking forward to this exciting project and I expect that we will have a significant positive impact on the region."

Six universities and 30 companies involved

The project will start on June 1, 2023 and is broadly based with six participating universities from three countries. In addition to the HSG, these are the Eastern Swiss University of Applied Sciences, the Zurich University of Applied Sciences ZHAW, the Vorarlberg University of Applied Sciences, the Albstadt-Sigmaringen University and the Baden-Württemberg Cooperative State University. The partners contribute different expertise in information systems, business model innovation or consumer research. More than 30 partners from the textile, agricultural and food industries ensure optimal practical transfer. These include Freitag Lab AG, Vaude Sport GmbH and Dürkopp Adler. The project is open to other partners from the relevant industries who want to contribute to the implementation of the circular economy.

High strategic relevance for the HSG

Sustainability is an integral part of the HSG Vision and Strategy 2025. It sees the circular economy as one of the three key solutions to overcoming the climate crisis and wasting resources. The HSG is therefore pursuing approaches that include the circular economy in research, teaching and on campus. "The Circular Lab is an important step towards understanding and enabling closed production and consumption cycles," said Prof. Dr. Judith Walls, Responsible and Sustainability Officer. "We are pleased that the project is based at the HSG and is aimed at effective cooperation in the region."

Our Refashion circular fashion system was featured on the European Commission’s website as an inspiring story of change contributing to the realization of the EU Textile Strategy. Refashion is a novel fashion design strategy that uses pre-designed multifunctional fabric blocks to create and recreate garments in a wide range of styles. It promotes zero-waste design, sustainability and circularity and it is supported by the computer science research group from the Chair for Interaction- and Communication-based Systems, University of St. Gallen, Switzerland.

We are excited to be part of this transition led by the European Commission towards a more responsible fashion industry. This year, through the ReSet the Trend campaign, the European Commission is promoting valuable and inclusive practices for all: designers, producers, retailers and consumers that will drive the EU Textile Strategy to materialize. You can learn more about how you too can contribute to this transition by visiting the link above and exploring inspiring stories, recommendations, and guidelines.

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