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10 Essential Circular Design Strategies to revolutionize your Process

Updated: Mar 22

teds ten cards for sustainability in fashion
Mistra Future fashion teds ten cards

Have you had the pleasure of learning about TEDS TEN? Let me introduce you to this fantastic tool developed by Becky Earley, Kay Politowicz, and the research group at Textiles Environment Design (TED) at Chelsea College of Arts. It's an absolute joy to share with you! While the tool was initially developed for textile designers, it's applicable to anyone in the fashion design process. It's an ingenious and enjoyable way to enhance our design process, and who doesn't need more fun in their day?

Considering each phase of design

When it comes to designing for sustainable fashion, TEDS TEN offers a helpful starting point by asking essential questions that Becky and her team ask at the beginning of every design project. These questions include:

  • Why are we making something?

  • What will change for the better?

  • Where have these materials come from?

  • What are they made of?

  • What's in them?

  • How have they been processed and manufactured into fabric?

  • Whose hands were a part of this process, and how were those people treated?

  • When the user washes, dries, irons, or repairs the product, what impacts are created?

  • When the user no longer wants the product, will it become redundant, or will someone else use it?

As sustainable textile design researchers, Becky and her team base any TED design brief on these questions, and they build their product around them, seeking to make improvements by design. The framework they use, called "The TEN," creates a map of the sustainable design landscape. We use these ten starters for any new project to inspire and drive our work. Overall, TEDS TEN is an excellent tool to incorporate into your design process to ensure a more sustainable and positive impact.

So Can a pack of cards be used as a tool for change?

In addition to using TEDS TEN as a starting point for sustainable fashion design, design teams can take it a step further by doing workshop sessions. Using these ten cards as a guide, they can plan out their strategies for achieving each one of the suggested considerations. Workshopping is a collaborative approach that encourages team members to share ideas, brainstorm, and come up with a plan of action that aligns with their design goals.

During workshopping sessions, design teams can explore each consideration in-depth, discuss challenges they may face, and brainstorm solutions that align with their sustainability goals. By doing so, they can create a more comprehensive and effective plan for designing sustainable fashion products that meet the needs of their customers while reducing the impact on the environment.

Ultimately, TEDS TEN and workshopping sessions can be powerful tools in helping design teams create sustainable fashion products that are both aesthetically pleasing and environmentally responsible. By incorporating these considerations into their design process, design teams can take meaningful steps toward creating a more sustainable and equitable future for the fashion industry.

Below are "Teds Ten" Strategies to build into your Design Process

"The Ten" from Circular Design Org

1. Design to Minimise waste

This strategy encourages designers to minimize the waste at the outset that we need to avoid producing stuff that doesn't work, that people dont want.

2. Design for Cyclability

This strategy explains how when you design for cyclability, the thought process is very different, but connected to, the practice of recycling textiles.

3. Design to Reduce Chemical Impacts

This strategy is about appropriate material selection and processes for any product to minimize environmental impacts.

4. Design to Reduce Energy and Water Use

Energy consumption and water usage in the textile industry are extremely high and occur at each stage of the lifecycle of textiles – at the production stage, in the use phase (where consumers use and care for textiles and garments), and at the end stage (which covers either disposal and/or re-use of the material.

5. Design that Explores Clean and Better Technologies

Replacing systems of production with less energy consumption and smarter technologies to reduce environmental impacts.

6. Design That Takes Models for History and Nature

This strategy is about how much textile designers can find inspiration and information for future sustainable design from studying and reflecting upon nature as well as textiles, habits, and societies of the past.

7. Design for Ethical Production

This is about design that utilizes and invests in traditional craft skills in the UK and abroad. It is about ethical production which supports and values workers' rights, and the sourcing of fair trade materials. It questions what ethical production means, and how it differs for each scale of production and manufacture.

8. Design to Reduce the Need to Consume

This strategy is about making stuff that lasts, stuff that we want and wants to keep and look after, and the design and production of textiles and products which adapt and change with age. This strategy is also about exploring alternative forms of design and consumption such as co-design and collaborative consumption.

9. Design to Dematerialise and Develop Systems & Services

This strategy introduces the concept of designing systems and services instead of, or to support, products, e.g. lease, share, and repair.

10. Design Activism

In this final strategy, we encourage designers to leave behind the product and work creatively with the consumers and society at large. It is about designing events and communication strategies beyond product design to increase consumer and designer knowledge about fashion and textiles' environmental and social impacts. Here, the textile designer becomes a ‘Social Innovator’. We reflect on how much has changed for textile designers, and how much potential for the future there is!


Share with us what strategies you are implementing, or aiming to implement in your design process moving forward. Which steps do you need to work on yet? Which are the most difficult and why? How will yWhich steps can you revisit to make changes?

We would love to hear what you are working on and share in the challenges, wins, losses, and learnings along the way.....let us know where you are in the design journey!

Reach out to us at design@insidefashiondesign as we would love to highlight you and your work.

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Hey there, lovely fashion friends! My name is Britta Cabanos, and I'm thrilled to have you here! 


I'm a 25+ year fashion industry design professional, and I'm passionate about supporting conscious designers, ethical makers, and sustainability. I believe that fashion can be a powerful force for good, and I'm committed to helping aspiring fashion industry pros make their mark in this exciting and ever-changing field. 


If you share my passion for conscious fashion and sustainability,  then you're in the right place. I offer industry insights, mentorship, connections, and resources to help you achieve your goals and make a positive impact in the world. Let's connect and explore the possibilities together - are you ready to join me on this exciting journey?

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