It is now just over a year ago that we launched Close The Loop, the online platform for sustainable fashion. Between then and now, we’ve been constantly on the go. We’ve criss-crossed the country to share our passion for sustainable fashion, we’ve added heaps of information and inspirational cases to our platform, and we’ve even created a travelling installation. So it’s high time to take a quick look back, and also and above all, forward!

Close The Loop is the online platform on sustainable fashion that we launched just over a year ago. The goal is simple: to show as many fashion entrepreneurs as possible that a circular economy is the future, and that it doesn’t have to be nearly as complicated as they might think. Using the life-cycle of a garment, the platform shows what you as a company can do to work more sustainably.

For each phase of this life-cycle we provide five strategies that you can apply in your company and we provide loads of practical tips for getting started right away. For example, at Close The Loop you will find an overview of the webshops where you can buy sustainable fabrics, the best download links for “zero waste” patterns, and guidelines for getting your end customer involved in your story.

From theory to practice

Obviously information by itself won’t do the job. That’s why we’ve also added a database that includes case stories: inspiring stories of fashion companies from Belgium and abroad that are taking steps in the right direction in one or more areas. In addition to cases about local creators and creative entrepreneurs such as Mats Rombaut, Katrien Van Hecke, Bruno Pieters and Murielle Scherre, you can also discover how large chains and international companies such as Nike, G-Star, Filippa K and H&M are handling this evolution.

Here’s a fun fact: in the space of one year, some 250 new cases were added to Close The Loop, which means that you will now find the stories of more than 350 fashion companies there.

How did Close The Loop come about?

Thanks to Stadslab 2050, an initiative of the City of Antwerp toward building a sustainable city, Flanders DC (at the time still known as the Flanders Fashion Institute) came into contact with Vlaanderen Circulair. It soon became clear that their expertise in circular economy and our experience in the fashion world could become a winning combination. After acquainting ourselves with the subject matter in great depth and figuring out the first sketch of our model, we presented the first ideas to some experts in the field. For each link in our Loop we organised a round table discussion including textile experts, designers, manufacturers, bloggers and recyclers. Their valuable input made the story complete and after that Close The Loop was born.

Round table discussion on production © Frederik Beyens

Round table discussion on production © Frederik Beyens

What happened after the launch?

After the launch, it was our mission to familiarise as many fashion entrepreneurs as possible with the tool. Here’s a selection of the contributions of the past year:

  • We organised a “train the trainer” session, after which you could get started as a pro.
  • We developed “cheat sheets”: a short, paper version that helps you if you don’t know where to get started.
  • We worked together with MAD Brussels and Creamoda to set up a Lab on circular fashion with inspiring speakers and an exciting panel discussion.
  • We were invited to the University of Antwerp to get students of the Summer School in Fashion Management inspired and enthusiastic. At the Antwerp fashion academy too, the master’s students listened to our story with fascination.
  • We built a stand at Fair Fashion Fest Ghent and developed a travelling installation together with textile designer Lotte Martens, whose work was exhibited at the MOOI festival in Antwerp.
  • Close The Loop has also received a great deal of attention at international level and, together with the Danish Fashion Institute, we are setting up a workshop on circular fashion as part of the European Clothing Action Plan.
Highlight from Lotte Martens's textile installation

Highlight from Lotte Martens's textile installation

What now?

Sustainability will remain one of the themes we’ll continue to work on. Via presentations and workshops we will continue to raise more awareness about Close The Loop. Using a short questionnaire, we are also researching the needs of the sector and we will expand, update and adjust where necessary. So please be sure to get in touch with us if you have some good ideas.

In addition to improving Close The Loop, we will continue to spread the word about sustainability in fashion and we are working on a whole new project as well. This year, thanks to MVO Vlaanderen, we will dedicate ourselves fully to building up knowledge on Corporate Social Responsibility. During this process, a number of mature companies will be provided with tailor-made guidance and the most important lessons from this experience will be shared with the broader industry. Watch this space!