Remember that jacket you wanted to buy that sold out before you got around to it? What if you could pick it up for 50 per cent less than the original price and contribute to making the fashion industry more sustainable?

This is the thinking behind Re-Worn, an initiative by Assembly Label designed to extend the life of its clothing and contribute to a circular economy.

The take-back program allows customers to return “gently used” garments that are then laundered and, if required, repaired, before being re-sold at a reduced price. The limited capsule collection is made up of core basics such as T-shirts, linen pieces, denim and knitwear from past seasons.

Aimed at reducing landfill and allowing customers to rediscover timeless pieces from previous collections, Re-Worn was launched in Assembly Label’s Fitzroy store in Melbourne last November, and there are plans to roll it out to more boutiques across the country this year. From autumn 2022, the Aussie clothing label is also making the Re-Worn capsule collection available online.

“We felt it was the natural next step for our business to become part of a circular economy, and the early feedback has been so positive that we’re excited to see where this will go in 2022,” says Assembly Label creative director Billie Iveson. “Re-Worn in our Fitzroy store was a test to see if it could become entrenched in our daily operations, and we sold 70 per cent of the collection in the first couple of weeks.”

Anything deemed beyond repair under the program is recycled through Assembly Label’s recycling partner, SCR Group, which collects and sorts the items, then offers any that are suitable to charity. What can’t be re-used in Australia is sent to SCR Group’s partner facility in Malaysia, to be distributed to communities in need, recycled into rags or converted into biofuels.

“Re-Worn was inspired by a trip overseas where we witnessed incredible circular practices and resource-recovery work being implemented,” says Iveson. “It helps reduce market demand to make new garments, reduces the carbon footprint across our operations and helps us with our goal of no Assembly Label garments ending up as landfill.”

The program – which reduces garment prices by 50 per cent on average – is part of a greater sustainability push by Assembly Label. The company, which was born in Sydney in 2011, aims to achieve a transparent supply chain and B Corp status some time soon, and last year launched the How We Work initiative to give consumers greater insight into its business practices, suppliers and materials.

“We understand that there is always more to be done and we are often critical of ourselves, but as a business we’re embracing the early creation of circular practices, keeping our heads down and ploughing forward,” says Iveson.

The Fitzroy store is at 243 Brunswick Street.

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