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Toward circular economy of fashion: Experiences from a brand’s product take-back initiative

Kerli Kant Hvass (Department of Management, Society and Communication, Copenhagen Business School, Frederiksberg, Denmark)
Esben Rahbek Gjerdrum Pedersen (CBS Centre for Corporate Social Responsibility, Copenhagen Business School, Frederiksberg, Denmark)

Journal of Fashion Marketing and Management

ISSN: 1361-2026

Article publication date: 23 July 2019

Issue publication date: 9 August 2019




The purpose of this paper is to examine the challenges and solutions emerging when fashion brands develop and test circular economy solutions within their existing business models.


The paper is based on a 34-month case study in a global fashion brand, which launched a new in-store product take-back initiative.


The results indicate that fashion brands need to cope with multiple challenges in the process of developing circular business models in the organization, including: diverging perspectives of value and unclear success criteria, poor alignment with existing strategy, limited internal skills and competences, and limited consumer interest.

Research limitations/implications

The results of this paper are grounded in a single case study and thus limitations associated with broad generalizations apply. In addition, the paper only investigated one aspect of circularity, namely, product take-back and did not investigate design for circularity, product reuse, recycle and other circularity related issues.


The findings derive from practical experiences of a fashion brand implementing an in-store product take-back system in the existing business model. The study reveals new insights into the actual process of making circular fashion operable.



The authors would like to acknowledge funding from Innovation Fond Denmark and the Scandinavian fashion Brand X and the European garment collector for their openness for giving access to data, internal processes and discussions. Our thanks also go to a cross-disciplinary research program Mistra Future Fashion.


Kant Hvass, K. and Pedersen, E.R.G. (2019), "Toward circular economy of fashion: Experiences from a brand’s product take-back initiative", Journal of Fashion Marketing and Management, Vol. 23 No. 3, pp. 345-365.



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