Deane Apparel | Advancing Circular Business Models

Mindful Fashion's Sustainability Spotlights showcase initiatives from our community and members that advance circular and sustainable clothing and textiles.

This month we feature our Circular Design Award partner Deane Apparel. We caught up with Sonya Flynn, Head of Product & Design who told us about the company's circularity principles and how these show up in real life, such as customer-specific pre-loved programmes to keep garments in circulation for longer and enabling re-purpose through not-for-profit partnerships.

Deane Apparel

Deane Apparel designs manufactures and distributes uniforms for some of Australia and New Zealand’s biggest corporations, including banks, airlines, fast food chains and healthcare services.

The Challenge

Quality is a cornerstone of a Deane garment. Quality is engineered through a robust fabric selection process (using lab and in-field trials), construction techniques and hard-wearing trims.

However, whilst Deane Apparel feels confident about the durability of its garments, it is still challenged by the industry-wide problem of what to do with its products at the end of their usable life to avoid creating waste. Deane believes that where its clothes end up is just as important as where they came from.

To tackle this Deane are taking a multi-faceted approach, working on solutions at the design stage, at the use stage and at the end of life.

The Initiatives

  • Design Led

Deane’s goal is to design with the end-of-life in mind. Ideally this means only using fabrics that can be recycled, and designing out the decommissioning process altogether so garments can go directly to recycling, resulting in 100% resource recovery.

For the last year, Deane’s Technical Team have worked closely with BlockTexx, an Australasian textile recycler, to review its common fabrics and trims and identify components which can’t be processed. Sonya says it’s slow going but the work to date has meant that its latest design project for a well-known fast food restaurant includes changes such as moving away from an elastane blended fabric which can’t go through the process, moving to embroidery rather than a print, using 100% PET buttons and using a lighter weight collar fusing.

  • Extending a garment’s life

In line with its circularity principles, Deane Apparel offer alternatives to keep its uniforms in circulation for longer. This includes customer-specific pre-loved programmes, where Deane takes back used uniforms and either re-sells them or enables them to be re-purposed through partnerships with not-for-profit organisations. This requires careful consideration and some de-commissioning work, because used uniforms often include company branding which for proprietary reasons cannot be circulated in the re-use market.

  • Repurpose + Technology

Deane has established a partnership with Blocktexx, an Australian-based clean technology company that offer the world-first S.O.F.T. (separation of fibre technology) process which takes cotton and polyester textile waste and turns it into high-grade cellulose powder and rPET pellets that can be used for a range of industrial and manufacturing applications.

For clothing to go through this process, common trims such as buttons, zips and elastic have to be removed. This decommissioning process can be time-consuming, costly and reduce the amount of resources that can be recovered. Which leads back to design.

By working closely with end of life re-processor BlockTexx, Deane are starting to incorporate these learnings into their design process to make the decommissioning and end of life material recovery more cost effective and viable.

Find out more about Deane's approach to sustainability and circularity here.

Ka pai Deane, we’re proud to have such an innovative sustainability focussed business as a sponsor of our Circular Design Awards 2023.