Revolutionizing the Fashion Industry with a T-Shirt

Revolutionizing the Fashion Industry with a T-Shirt

Propelling fashion forward with sustainable impact and an open-source guide to share knowledge.

The C&A Foundation and McDonough Innovation put a collaborative team of industry experts together, representing each step of the fashion product process, to find pathways to sustainability and to share that with the fashion industry. Positive Company (previously known as Designbox) led the product innovation, design and manufacturing strategy of this open source lighthouse project.

The environmental and landfill impact of the fashion industry is unacceptable. But the problem is complicated and even when fashion brands want to do better, they do not have a roadmap to do so. From choosing materials, to design construction, to manufacturing methods, supply chain partnerships and product distribution, the solutions are complex and seemingly impossible to find within existing timelines and budgets.

We worked with McDonough Innovation, MBDC and numerous manufacturing partners in India to develop a Cradle-to-Cradle Gold Certified set of shirts. This apparel not only set a new bar for garments but also led to the creation of the Fashion For Good Center and an open source manual for the industry on sustainable manufacturing.

Along with leading the team through product design, product development, and manufacturing strategy of the project, Positive Company authored these areas of the Fashion for Good C2C Certified How To Guide.

The global team of industry experts  included:
• C&A Foundation (now Laudes foundation): Client and project co-lead
• McDonough Innovation: project co-lead
• Designbox (now Positive Company): Sustainable Product Design and Manufacturing lead
• BCG: Sustainable Innovation Accelerator development lead
• Fashion for Good: home for Fashion Accelerator and C2C How-To-Guide team lead

The World’s First C2C Gold Standard T-Shirts

We worked closely with McDonough Innovation, MBDC and numerous manufacturing partners in India to realize a Cradle to Cradle Gold Certified set of shirts. This C&A Foundation project focused on realizing a C2C Gold Certification of two styles: a women’s form fitting t-shirt, and a cotton t-shirt. Positive Company and MBDC led the factory site visits in India to assess five different C2C criteria: materials, energy, water, social, post-life use and disposal.

We worked to develop a cohesive supply chain and to source materials, develop, and manufacture the shirts to this gold standard. We designed 2 fashion-forward shirts from within this focused set of criteria, proving that conscious and conscience can be one and the same.

Designing in the End-of-Life at the Beginning of the Design Process

To learn more about the Cradle to Cradle assessments, visit MBDC.

The 2 T-shirts we designed were from 2 different materials streams: one purely biological and the other purely technical. By keeping these two streams entirely separate, we ensure clean recyclability of each shirt.

The 2 factories were integral partners on the team, and enabled us to add manufacturing requirements into the beginning of the design process. The Bill of Materials for each shirt was provided to MBDC for chemical assessment.

Working with the factories to optimize materials and processes, we ensured a healthy, and ultimately gold-standard, product. We also worked with the team to develop a material reutilization strategy, including recyclability and industrial composting.

An Open-Source Guide to Change the World

Part of the intention for this entire project was to share what we learned about how to make C2C certified fashion products with garment manufacturers and brands in an open source way. Only by sharing knowledge across industry can we truly have sustainable and growing positive impact on our environment. 

Fashion for Good includes this statement:

By demonstrating exactly how good fashion is possible today, this C2C Certified How-To Guide aims to accelerate the vital shift to a Cradle to Cradle-inspired circular apparel industry; one that is socially, economically and environmentally beneficial.

Aly Khalifa of Positive Company authored many parts of the guide, including vital pieces concerning design process, materials sourcing and manufacturing methods.

Find out more or download the Fashion for Good Guide