5.03 FasT4C – Fashion-Tech Design for Circularity

Paola Bertola
Marzo 2023
Febbraio 2025
Politecnico di Milano

Politecnico di Torino, Università degli Studi di Firenze 

5.03 FasT4C – Fashion-Tech Design for Circularity

FasT4C aims to develop, implement, and test a cradle-to-cradle design-driven approach in the fashion sector through Industry 4.0 (I4.0) systems and technologies.
Design choices and practices influence the entire fashion value and supply chain along their different phases from prototypes and production processes to sales and communication strategies, product use, and the end of their life cycle. Therefore, design is a strategic asset to guide the transition toward a sustainable transformation of the fashion system adopting circular products, processes, and supply chains.
I4.0 technologies (e.g., Internet of Things, Artificial Intelligence, Advanced Manufacturing and Digital Fabrication, Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality, Collaborative Robotics, Radio Frequency Identification, Blockchain, Artificial Intelligence, Big Data, etc.) could improve, enhance or generate new products/services/supply chains/systems that influence both production and consumption. To achieve a comprehensive understanding of the possible design-driven innovative strategies toward a circular fashion ecosystem through I4.0, the project will be articulated addressing at list two key sectors (e.g., textile/clothing and leather accessories) and considering the following four main research tracks:

Design and prototyping processes
Digital/virtual fashion design strategies applied to sampling processes to understand digital software and hardware compatibility, limitations and opportunities to improve traditional and innovative pattern-making workflows, exploit reverse engineering from body scanning and apply generative digital tools towards circular solutions.

Materials/fabrics (MFs) non-standard fabrication processes
Waste prevention in manufacturing processes through strategic material selection activity, modular design and design for disassembly using additive manufacturing and laser cutting. Zero-waste design approaches linked to composite garment weaving, three-dimensional textile shaping, functional thermoresponsive and mechanoresponsive materials, and bio-based materials. Monitoring of synthetic MFs release in the different steps of the process and elaboration of solution to decrease it.

Supply chain management
Models supporting the decisions of circular supply chain design and performance measurement; traceability systems, smart technologies and solutions to empower the management of (reverse) material and product flows pre and post consumption.

Textile and garment end-of-life management
Analysis of the management of textile/leather waste: inventory of companies; categorization; KPIs definition; bottlenecks and strategies definition to improve sustainability and circularity of the sector. Comparison of the Italian framework with others. Industrial and urban textile waste collection system in relation to the European directive and the national legislation: estimate of the textile waste produced per person, strengths and weaknesses of the supply chain in the treatment processes of collected and processed textiles, correct management of synthetic fabric and microfibers release in the production and recycling phases.

During the first year, the project will be focused on mapping state of the art, understanding current practices, and identifying best practices about the previously identified processes, technologies, materials, products/systems, and tools. Current partners will collaborate with companies involved in early case study research to improve the collaboration during the second year, when selected concepts will be piloted, validated, and exploited.


FasT4C project aims to achieve the following objective at the end of the first year of the project:

  • a comprehensive understanding of the state of the art, case studies and best practices of processes, technologies, products/systems, materials and tools for each of the research strand previously defined;
  • a comprehensive model for fashion circularity linking all phases of the supply and value chain (materials production and selection, eco-design, manufacturing, distribution, disposal/recollection, recycling and recovery) addressing at list two key sectors (e.g., textile/clothing and leather accessories);
  • the definition of concepts of micro-loops of cradle-to-cradle strategies toward the design of product/process/supply chain/services, in each of the research strand previously identified;
  • a series of publications (at least one for each research strand), such as conference papers, and scientific articles that aim at interdisciplinary disseminating the achievements of the research phase of the project;

FasT4C aims to achieve the following objective at the end of the two-years project duration:

  • a series of pilot experiments as demonstrators representing the model, their working principles, their flows and related enabling technologies and tools (at least one for each research strand) conducted with fashion companies toward the redesign of selected products lines (e.g., iconic) by applying circular processes in design, prototyping, manufacturing and end-of-life phases, measuring the impacts on the performance.
  • a Circular Fashion-Tech Lab conceived as an innovative and networked model of research space and infrastructure equipped with customized software and hardware technologies as hybridized digital tools where the pilots take place for testing and validating circularity in fashion applications;
  • a series of open hybridized digital tools and educational materials to be distributed to a wider audience of fashion companies and to be used as educational tool, thus contributing to achieve a broader impact and reach on other fashion SMEs.
  • a series of publications (at least one for each research strand), such as scientific articles and book volumes that aim at interdisciplinary disseminating the achievements of the pilots of the project.