A Circular Economy Approach in the Luxury Fashion Industry: A Case Study of Eileen Fisher

  • Sabine WeberEmail author
Part of the Environmental Footprints and Eco-design of Products and Processes book series (EFEPP)


Past studies have considered opportunities and barriers to sustainability in the fashion industry, or consumer perspectives and disposal behaviour, but few studies have explored a circular economy approach as a chance for business extension. There is a lack of research that examines luxury fashion, circular economy and entrepreneurship, showing how a circular economy could look. This study used a case study approach to observe and analyse the circular economy business model of Eileen Fisher (EF), New York. This study explores how the company has developed its take-back programme and how this programme led to the development of recycling operations at EF. In 2017, twelve semi-structured interviews were conducted with employees from EF, representing different departments and operating at various functions in the company. Their responses were analysed according to a content analysis method to outline EF’s approaches to both luxury fashion and a circular economy additional data from the company was obtained. Results were summarized in an analysis of the strengths, weakness, opportunities and threats (SWOT) to show advantages and challenges the company faces when introducing the circular economy concept. To better understand the operational processes, while visiting the recycling factory, a variation of a multi-moment recording procedure was conducted assessing the procedures of a particular operation occurring at a specific place over a specified duration to capture how the work was completed and in what ways (REFA-Methodenlehre 1978). The goal of this procedure was to compile a detailed description of the actual processing steps of all the work in the recycling facility, to discover challenges and risks. This chapter describes the effect of developing and implementing a circular economy approach at EF. The results indicate that a circular economy approach in the luxury fashion industry is possible and is beneficial to extended business, can generate revenue and reduce environmental degradation. This chapter explains that a circular economy approach in luxury fashion requires a company to produce luxury products that are timeless, high quality, durable and retail at a high price.


Circular economy Luxury fashion Entrepreneurship Textile recycling Take-back Reuse Innovation New business models 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Environment, Resources and Sustainability (SERS)University of WaterlooWaterlooCanada
  2. 2.School of FashionSeneca CollegeTorontoCanada
  3. 3.WaterlooCanada

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