Ccrave is an impact-oriented shopping platform that focuses on circularity. This week, Ccrave launches its second pop-up concept in Amsterdam. We interviewed Vincent Van Dessel, founder of Ccrave, about innovative fashion and emerging business models as well as his efforts to combat climate change.
Circular economy is about eliminating waste and keeping products in circulation while regenerating nature. Was it difficult to find brands that meet all these criteria?
Let’s stop trying to find brands that meet all criteria of circularity. In a preliminary stage, closing the loop and becoming fully circular are still in development. Particularly, the circular fashion market is still in its infancy stage and has a limited offering. Start-ups and smaller brands are the ones that can truly bring about circular innovation. They’re driven forward by visionary entrepreneurs who care.
There is a limited pool of fish to be caught, and even less if you consider outstanding design. They do exist, and there are more brands popping up. There are WAYZ circular sneakers, Pierre sports’ cork-recycled sports equipment, Pierre sports’ first-ever recycled toothbrush, and Doop, which has removable heads.
Our vetting process checks for different levels of circularity. To have access to our platform, at least three of the seven pillars of our circular screening process must be followed. We want a platform that has all the right brands. If we find a good starting point, we will provide guidance for growth.
Are you willing to say that circularity is a solution for fashion’s contribution to climate change?
The main problem was the shift towards fast fashion over the past decades, the increased stimulation of consumers and the increase in recurrent collection launches. This has placed a significant strain on resource extraction and climate change. This is an alternative practice to the central pillar, reduction. We must simplify our consumption habits and shift the mindset of wanting more.
Circularity can be described as a broad concept that encompasses many dimensions, including repurposing and reusing waste, reducing consumption, and buying consciously. This combination will lead to systemic change as well as more sustainable fashion industry.
Social fairness, which covers the need for fair wages and no child labor, is another pillar of circularity. Fair fashion platforms or eco-consciousness are not the answer. As focused as our platform can be on the promotion of the circular economy revolution, it should also include fair fashion platforms.
Your international marketing career was successful. Why did you decide to start a circular company?
I am an “ex-adman who became conscious” after nearly two decades of advertising, working for large multinationals in Europe and Asia pushing linear products. My experience and skills were to help businesses and people make a real difference in the world. I also wanted to contribute to the realization of the Sustainable Development Goals. After consulting with several social enterprises and mentoring startups, I decided to focus on impact entrepreneurship. Ccrave was inspired by a visionary book about how design can be a key factor in making the transition to a circular economy successful.
Are there any design tips that could help someone who is interested in starting a circular company?
Complexity and layers are key to circularity. We identified 10 key pillars to a successful circular brand in our most recent webinar. The life stage of the brand is what will determine your business’s success. There are many levels in the supply chain that can affect your choices. What about material selections? What about certifications? Are you able to afford LCA (Life Cycle Assessment) and other certifications? Impact measurement tools How about logistics and last-mile delivery options? Are you open to the idea of close-the-loop and end-of-life cycle recollection systems? Do you think renting is the best option? It’s better not to rush it and be too ambitious. The DNA of the company’s visionary leaders is the foundation for successful circular innovation.
Fashion is all about desirability. Is circular fashion as appealing or more desirable to consumers than traditional fashion?
If we want to encourage linear consumers to switch to circular products, appealing and differentiated design will be a game-changer. Consumer perceptions of recycled products have been distorted by decades of unsustainably made recycled products. There weren’t enough trendy options. The new generation of circular products allows consumers to switch to an appealing alternative.
By combining the fashion marketing techniques used in the linear world with respect for circular pillars, you can make circular fashion items as attractive as consumers desire. This includes a unique brand story and collaborations with artists, as well as limited-edition drops. Good product design is the foundation of everything.
What are the most innovative and high-impact circular initiatives on Ccrave?
Two Belgian brands are my personal favorites: Yuma Labs, which 3D prints circular sunglasses, and Honest, which makes circular denim. These brands know what closing the loop actually means.
– Collecting waste as a starting point.
– Clear transparency on how positive impact is.
– Collaborations and special collections.
– Inspiring end of lifecycle programmes.
– Products that stand out.
What do you think will happen next in sustainability and sustainable fashion?
We will be moving in a direction that combines different elements to make sustainable fashion successful. The new reference is made-to-order and real-time production, with full transparency with Blockchain traceability, innovative circular materials, and impact measurement data so consumers can make informed choices and create virtual fashion innovations.
Ccrave Amsterdam’s pop-up concept will be open 24-27 April. It will feature a mixture of zero-waste and waste-based products.