Circular Fashion Network

Published on Monday, 24 October 2022

Interview with Viviana Junca, Mayor Office's Director of the Circular Fashion Network at Bogota's Secretary of the Environment.

Circular fashion is an ever-growing trend, with consumers becoming increasingly aware of the impact of buying, wearing, and discarding garments of all kinds. The concept has gained popularity in response to the criticism of “fast fashion," which refers to low-cost clothing sold to allow people to buy new clothes more frequently.

Colombia is one of those nations promoting circular fashion. In 2021, some 148,000 tons of textile waste was dumped at Bogotá’s Doña Juana landfill alone, prompting the administration of Mayor Claudia López, through the District Environment Secretariat, to develop the Circular Fashion Network strategy. With the participation of Bogota's Chamber of Commerce, the National Federation of Merchants (FENALCO), and the Secretariat of Economic Development, they aim to promote circular economy strategies in every stage of the city’s fashion industry.

The Circular Fashion Network is just one initiative that forms part of ‘Bogotá Circular,' a program composed of different projects created to consolidate circularity as a support tool for constructing a more sustainable city. Focusing on the textile industry's value chain, it addresses circularity from the design and textile selection stage to the recycling and recovery of used clothing, creating a sustainable fashion ecosystem with circularity at its core.

Under this initiative, production chains have been revitalized in Bogota. The circularity increase in surplus materials, including reducing textile waste and promoting circular raw materials through ecodesign strategies,  recovery, training, sustainability, and strengthening of Circular Economy strategies, has given the city a green boost.

The strategy is aimed at fashion houses and ventures, designers, suppliers, waste managers, transformers, and academia, among others within the urban limits of Bogota, interested in joining the transition towards circular business models.

We interviewed Viviana Junca, head of Circular Fashion Network, from the Secretary of the Environment of the Mayor's Office of Bogota.

What were the main challenges faced in developing this initiative?

One of the biggest challenges we have encountered is the lack of information and the industry's baseline numbers, including raw materials, quantities, surplus characterization, and management. This information is vital for establishing project management's indicators, goals, and scope.

I also see this as a generalized challenge for the other productive sectors of the city. These patterns of overproduction and consumption are part of the current economic model and the cause of the degradation of the natural environment, the consequence being the current climate crisis. The fashion sector, considered the second most polluting sector in the world, faces enormous challenges in the transition towards circular business models.

Therefore, the network prioritizes actions related to promoting sustainability as the central axis of the strategic plans of companies and ventures.

It is an innovative mechanism tackling problems regarding raw materials,  increasingly restrictive regulatory frameworks, access to new markets, and social responsibility that meet the demands of an informed and increasingly sustainability-conscious consumer who demands transparency and coherence from fashion brands worldwide.

What companies/sectors/organizations have already joined this project?

Within the process of mapping key players, we have found, to our great surprise, that multiple actors converge in the fashion system, many of whom come from other economic sectors. The latter includes services and manufacturing that generate tons of textile surpluses each year from the provision of employees, most of which are currently taken to a landfill or incinerated for brand protection issues.

The project currently has the participation of some 130 actors, from companies and enterprises from the fashion world to other sectors such as logistics, pharmaceuticals, hotels, telecommunications, and security. Likewise, pilot projects have been added and formulated with academic institutions that offer programs in Fashion and Design, Industrial Design, textile laboratories, and others, with the Universidad Politecnico Grancolombiano, Areandina, SENA, La America, UNAL standing out.

What are your future goals/targets?

Through the processes related to actor characterization, training and formation, and the participation and development of promotional spaces, the intention is to consolidate the sustainability criteria in the different chain links within the sector. In turn, formalize a circular economy management model, mainly via a pilot scheme for the circulation of materials and surpluses resulting from the territorialization of the material flows of each actor in the network and link them with those who require them for their production processes.

Therefore, this year we intend to consolidate and present the supply and demand portfolio of surplus textiles and leather generated in fashion and other industries while simultaneously promoting initiatives and projects in which eco-products are created from these materials.

Finally, we invite you to learn more about the project by visiting the site: