Transformative Approaches to Sustainability in European Fashion SMEs

The “Support Report: Mapping Sustainable Fashion Opportunities for SMEs” (2019) illuminates the significant role that small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) play in advancing sustainability within the European fashion industry. This document encapsulates several case studies that exemplify how these enterprises have successfully integrated sustainable practices into their business models. Here’s a structured outline of these innovative approaches:

Innovative Material Use and Recycling

Orange Fiber (Italy): Utilizes citrus byproducts to develop sustainable textiles, showcasing how agricultural waste can be repurposed into valuable fabric, thus promoting a waste-to-wealth concept.

Ecoalf (Spain): This company transforms ocean plastics into premium textiles, pioneering the use of marine debris in fashion manufacturing, and setting new standards for environmental responsibility.

Re:newcell (Sweden): Specializes in the chemical recycling of cotton and viscose, turning post-consumer waste into new fibers, which supports the principles of the circular economy in textiles.


Design and Manufacturing Innovations

Elvis & Kresse (UK): Repurposes decommissioned fire hoses and other discarded materials into high-end accessories, emphasizing creative reuse and luxury upcycling.

MUD Jeans (Netherlands): Operates on a circular model, where jeans are designed for recyclability and durability. Customers are encouraged to return worn jeans for recycling, enhancing the lifecycle of the garments.

Consumer Engagement and Services

The Nu Wardrobe (Ireland): Facilitates a garment-sharing platform that extends the life of clothing and shifts consumer behavior from ownership to sharing, thereby reducing overall waste, and promoting sustainable fashion consumption.


Discussion and Insights

The diversity in sustainable practices showcased in these case studies highlights the unique challenges and achievements of SMEs in the fashion sector. Each example underscores the critical impact of innovative materials, circular business models, and proactive consumer engagement in driving the sustainability agenda.


Impact and Scalability

These real-world applications prove that sustainability is not only feasible but also beneficial for both the environment and business. They underscore the need for supportive networks, innovative material usage, and effective consumer participation.



These case studies provide compelling evidence and serve as inspirational models for other SMEs in the fashion industry. They demonstrate that sustainable practices are essential for environmental and social wellbeing and are economically viable. This report offers a practical framework and valuable insights that can motivate and guide other businesses towards embracing sustainable practices.