A leading Scottish knitwear entrepreneur has joined forces with a University of Edinburgh graduate to launch Cashmere Circle, a service to revive, repair and recycle cashmere garments. Belinda Dickson, founder of Belinda Robertson Cashmere, and Ross Powell have co-founded the company with Edinburgh Innovations’ support to help luxury fashion move to a circular economy model while boosting textile skills and jobs in the Scottish Borders.
Cashmere Circle will send a courier to collect your cashmere garments, which will then be professionally restored, repaired or – at the end of their current life – upcycled into new products.
The start-up business has partnered with a number of Borders-based experts with the aim of returning the area to its once leading position in the textiles industry, says Edinburgh Innovations. A knowledge transfer programme facilitated by Cashmere Circle will ensure skills are retained for the next generation of knitwear experts, it says.
Cashmere Circle will also donate 1% of its revenue to Trees for Life, which is rewilding the Scottish Highlands, and has entered an agreement with Oxfam for the charity to divert end-of-life cashmere garments that would otherwise go to landfill.
“Cashmere Circle aims to be a truly sustainable business – environmentally of course, but also socially, by ensuring jobs and skills are retained in the Borders. It’s very exciting to launch Cashmere Circle, to serve our first customers and provide a means of engagement for the luxury market with the environmental movement. Natural, biodegradable and a fibre that softens with wear, cashmere can, if cared for appropriately, be the perfect luxury fibre for a more sustainable fashion future,” comments Ross Powell, Co-Founder and CEO, Cashmere Circle.
Belinda Dickson, a long-serving board member of the UK Fashion and Textiles Association, had been exploring ways to improve environmental sustainability in her industry when she met Powell, a passionate environmentalist, during his final year studying for his degree in International Relations with a focus on environmental policy.
With support from Dickson, Powell analysed how to introduce circularity into the cashmere sector by blending traditional skills with new technologies and an innovative business model.
“A truly beautiful wardrobe is one that does no damage to the planet and dressing in luxurious knitwear doesn’t mean you can’t address clear societal and sustainability needs.
Cashmere Circle will be doing great things for industry, the wider communities and the planet,” Belinda Dickson said.
Powell approached Edinburgh Innovations soon after graduating and has since been receiving regular advice on launching and developing the business. The company’s seed funding round opens in the new year and Powell is particularly keen to attract investors aligned with his social and environmental mission.
With artisan techniques, Cashmere Circle will invisibly repair almost any small hole, before treating the garment with pioneering cleaning processes that not only enhance the garment, but also sanitize it. Prices begin at £30 for revival of a single garment, which will return it to like-new condition, no matter how ‘loved’, the company says. For larger holes unable to be invisibly repaired, Cashmere Circle offers a bespoke patching service.