Case Study: BAM (CE Masterclass)

Circular economy masterclass drives new sustainable products and strategy for BAM clothing

5 Jun 2023 Business Positive
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Circular economy masterclass drives new sustainable products and strategy for BAM clothing

BAM, a leading designer and manufacturer of bamboo activewear, experienced a transformative impact on their business through our Circular Economy Masterclass, which revolutionised their product strategy and design approach.


The company is committed to finding solutions to the sustainable fashion challenge, creating both innovative and environmentally friendly pieces.


In 2019, BAM set itself an ambitious goal to be impact positive by 2030. This goal encompasses the whole product range and the entire supply chain impact, starting from the raw material source to the moment customers recycle the clothes. Two years were spent measuring and understanding impacts across six identified pillars: climate, waste, chemicals, water, land use, and people.


The company’s Sustainability and Technical Manager, Merryn Chilcott, went on the Circular Economy Masterclass – a six-week course delivered by Exeter Business School’s Centre for Circular Economy and supported by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation.


The masterclass gave Merryn a comprehensive understanding of the circular economy concept and how it could be integrated into BAM’s business model. She learned about the potential challenges and changes they would need to make in their pursuit of circularity, but also discovered that many of the BAM’s sustainable practices already aligned with circular economy principles.


The course’s modules on circular design proved particularly valuable. Merryn said, “The masterclass gave me the knowledge and tools to approach design and product development in a completely new way. This has not only had a direct influence on the product ranges we’ve recently launched, but also on our longer-term overall product strategy.


Implementation of circular changes delivered several successes for BAM. The launch of their first denim range in 2020, designed with circular principles following the Ellen MacArthur Foundation ‘Jeans Redesign’ guidelines, generated strong sales.


Another accomplishment was their partnership with a charity aiming to eliminate clothing poverty. BAM provided customers with a pre-paid bag to donate unwanted clothing, while also supporting the charity in finding better end-of-life solutions for unsuitable donations. An overwhelming response meant the service had to be temporarily paused, but it will be relaunched later in the year.


Furthermore, BAM’s circular initiatives led them to win the Best Circular Initiative category of the Drapers Sustainable Fashion Awards in 2022 with their 73 Zero Jacket – a jacket made completely from recycled materials and certified fully recyclable at the end of life, offered with a free take back scheme. This achievement inspired them to tackle the significant challenges with circularity faced by the textile industry.


“One of the biggest challenges we have found is the lack of textile recycling facilities, technology, and infrastructure,” Merryn said. “We now see ourselves as an active part of the solution to this through our work with second-hand clothing processors like Sharewear, funding and contributing to research, and our growing range of products designed with circular principles in mind.

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