Courtney Holm, AFC member and founder of ethical Melbourne-based fashion brand A.BCH, has launched a new platform called Circular Sourcing to help keep Australian surplus fabrics in use and out of landfill.
This online marketplace makes it easy for fashion businesses to sell their leftover fabrics to anyone from micro to small and medium business or even home sewers – extending the longevity of the materials and keeping them out of landfill for longer.
During our discussion, we had the opportunity to explore the driving forces behind Circular Sourcing and the impactful sustainable initiatives that have been implemented within Courtney’s own brand, A.BCH.
Q1: Courtney, congratulations on launching your latest initiative Circular Sourcing. Can you tell us more about it and how it helps to reduce fabric waste in Australia?
Thanks so much! Circular Sourcing is a marketplace that allows Australian businesses (think textile mills, manufacturers and designer labels) to sell their leftover fabric stock in a streamlined way.
Previously there were no convenient or desirable pathways for valuable surplus materials to get re-circulated in Australia and that’s where Circular Sourcing can help. It’s a digital platform for connecting these materials with buyers, whether they are small to medium sized businesses, startups, fashion students or home sewers.
This reduces waste as it is really focussed on keeping materials in their highest use-case, whatever the materials may be. When designers choose to work with surplus fabrics as their first port of call, they are putting less demand on new resources and participating in the circular economy. When sellers list their surplus stock (and we know there's a lot of it) it creates access to some really incredible fabrics that otherwise wouldn’t be available.
Q2: In your experience, what are the key challenges businesses face when it comes to managing fabric waste? How does Circular Sourcing help overcome these challenges?
No matter what the business size, there is almost always some fabric left over after production. For the mills, there’s likely lots of surplus due to the production process and minimum yarn a machine requires to run.
For Australian fashion labels, no matter how well you plan, there is likely some meterage at the end of the roll and if you don’t have enough to do another production run or a material was over-ordered, then leftover materials likely sit there collecting dust.
A lot of businesses have expressed this challenge and each of them on their own cannot make the solution - they simply don't have the time or resources and manual processes or transactions aren't feasible. We need a collaborative approach where we can bring all these materials together, with quantities great and small. We know there's a buyer out there for every quantity and type of fabric, and Circular Sourcing is the platform to facilitate those connections.
Q3: Looking ahead, what are your future goals and aspirations for Circular Sourcing?
Right now we are in a pilot phase and are really focused on making the platform truly excellent for both buyers and sellers, however, we can already see the potential for system-wide changes.
The platform is built with the long-term goal to de-risk innovation for mills and designers as they clear out their surplus stock and generate additional revenue. We’ll also be able to leverage the data we receive on material flows in the country and this could lead to even greater efficiencies for businesses using our service. This data is also very helpful for recycling the offcuts once a material is finally “used up” as we know exactly what each material is. Finally, over time we hope to incentivise “better material” listings, encouraging a shift from business as usual, pushing for greater innovation and focus from our sellers to source not just for the collection of the moment, but for a future circular economy.
Q4: As the founder of A.BCH, what sustainability initiatives have you implemented in your business and how does A.BCH embraces circularity?
ABCH was founded with the sole purpose of proving circular concepts within fashion, which makes the business pretty unique in its approach.
We’ve done a lot of work building internal and sharable systems for the circular economy and our products are only released if they can fit into our circular design frameworks. Throughout the years we’ve tested different approaches, and today operate with the following facets of the business:
- ABCH: Our core circular products that are built for a planned lifecycle with free customisations and repairs.
- ABCH Red Line: A limited-edition collection made from wasted materials (offcuts and production shreds) built for circularity.
- Circular Factory: Public outlet for sharing and selling bio-based circular trims (threads, elastics) used in A.BCH clothes' production, with repair service & design workshops.
- Circular Sourcing: A digital platform for circulating surplus textiles from Australia’s best mills, manufacturers and designer labels.
To find out more about the new Circular Sourcing platform, click here