Circular Leap Asia empowers apparel manufacturers across Asia to fast-track solutions towards a circular economy.

The challenge

Due to the explosive expansion of fast fashion, the average person today buys 60% more clothing items compared to in 2000. Apparel production has doubled between 2000 to 2014, generating shocking amounts of waste that tax environmental resources and threaten community health. Valuable apparel and material are sent to landfills or incinerators, as waste and recycling infrastructures struggle to cope. 

With COVID-19 and the climate crisis further threatening the fashion industry’s dominant business model based on “cheaper, faster, better” production without consideration for the real needs of consumers [1], circular models will need to be at the heart of the sector’s radical transformation.  

By their position in the industry - making sourcing and supply decisions and creating products that retail in shops - manufacturers have great potential to shape the fashion sector up and down the supply chain. And yet, the role of manufacturers is often overlooked in debates around sustainability, and circular initiatives are mostly driven by fashion brands who are faced with the limitations of a compliance-driven approach when it comes to driving innovation in the supply chain.

Can we really re-imagine the fashion industry if we focus on what products are made of, how they are designed and sold, but fail to re-conceive exactly how they are made?

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Catch up with our recent webinar

Our solution

Over the last two years, Forum for the Future has led the Circular Leap Asia programme, which focused on empowering fashion manufacturers in Asia to lead the adoption and scaling of circular solutions. Forum for the Future worked with three leading manufacturers focused on tackling the high-impact challenges of reducing microfibre shedding, building the reverse supply chain for clothing recycling, and reducing fabric material waste in the footwear supply chain.

The ‘Making the leap to circular fashion’ report summarises the insights gained from this work. It calls on all actors across apparel supply chains to collectively leverage the existing trust, relationships and social capital in the industry and sets out recommended actions that will enable all supply chain actors to truly act together to create a circular future for fashion. 

The report lays out a three-step approach for brands and retailers to create the networks vital to ensuring long-term success:

  1. Streamlining engagement: Evaluating points of interaction with supply chain partners that currently inhibit collaboration on circular economy initiatives.
  2. Partnering better: Engaging supply chain partners at the problem-scoping and ideation stage, and investing in trusted, strategic long-term partnerships.
  3. Making learning and innovation central to supply chain partnerships: Considering how existing programmes can work to align their own teams and supply chain partners on common circular goals, and building capacity in that direction. 

Further specific recommended actions are also included for research and innovation ecosystems, manufacturers, as well as for critical enablers of change such as investors, policy makers, non-profits and development organisations.

To help support manufacturers in taking a leading role, Forum for the Future will be developing a ‘Manufacturers’ Guide to Circular Fashion’ later in 2020, which will help industry stakeholders assess where manufacturers are on their circular journey, and the actions they can take to proactively drive the transition. 

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Join us

Watch our recent webinar

To learn more about the what it would take for fashion manufacturers to take the lead on a circular transition, you can watch the recording of our recent webinar on Forum's YouTube channel or download the slide deck.

Get involved

To learn more about how your organisation can get involved in driving the transformation of the fashion industry, get in touch with Ariel Muller.    

To find out more about Forum for the Future’s work on sustainable apparel and the value chains of land-based commodities visit 

To find out more about Forum’s work on the circular economy visit


Circular Leap Asia programme partners

Manufacturing Partners: Ramatex GroupYee Chain, Cobalt Fashion (Fung Group)

Innovation Partner: Fashion for Good

Technical Partner: VDE Consultancy

Media Partner:

Supported by: Laudes Foundation, Singapore Economic Development Board

Partner quotes

“The Covid-19 crisis serves as a wake-up call for the fashion industry. Moving forward, circular and sustainable solutions will no longer be a “nice-to-have”, they will become core to business survival. Being part of the Circular Leap Asia programme helped to accelerate our thinking around circular textiles, and move from a concept to prototype with identified partners. While the pandemic has hampered plans to get the reverse supply chain pilot up and running in 2020, the crisis has deepened our long-term commitment at Cobalt Fashion to develop circular knitwear solutions for our customers and the wider industry.” - Roger Chan, Chief Operating Officer at Cobalt Fashion

“As a manufacturer deeply embedded in today’s fashion supply chain, it can be challenging to imagine a world where business revenue is not driven by ever-increasing production volumes. Yet that is what we must do to move towards a truly circular future, and we need to work closely with ambitious brands and retailers to make this a reality. Programmes like Circular Leap Asia provide both inspiration and practical support for manufacturers who are keen to play our part.”  - Martin Su, Sustainability Manager at Yee Chain International  

"Now more than ever, it’s important for the entire supply chain to come together and collaborate towards innovative solutions. It’s equally important to support and recognise the critical role of manufacturers in implementing these solutions that have positive repercussions on the rest of the fashion ecosystem." - Priyanka Khanna, Lead - International Expansion, Fashion for Good 

Related links

[1] The Business of Fashion and McKinsey & Company estimate that revenues for the global fashion industry will contract by 27 to 30% in 2020 year-on-year. Source: “The State of Fashion 2020 – Coronavirus Update”, available at