London-driven online fashion store makes shopping for yourself and others WORTH more than ever through sustainable and stylish upcycling

Sustainability is at the core of Fanshawe Centre for Research and Innovation (CRI)’s mission. Every research project at CRI is designed to uplift the whole of Southwestern Ontario by employing innovation to drive forward the greater community and economy.

In time for thoughtful holiday shopping, the online launch of a fashion e-commerce site called “WORTH Love Again” proves the potential for sustainability to meet many environmental, societal and economic challenges in a way that pushes style and creativity to greater heights. The brand-new online retail experience is the result of a CRI research project in partnership with Goodwill Industries, Ontario Great Lakes and is founded by professors Jennifer Wright and Meredith Jones from Fanshawe College’s Faculty of Creative Industries.

“The original purpose of the WORTH sustainable fashion project has been to demonstrate a way forward for the fashion industry to find a pathway to reduce its end-of-cycle waste and divert more and more valuable textile from winding up in landfill,” explains Wright. “Working with Goodwill, we set out with this research project to create stylish fashion pieces that could be sold out of the articles collected – extending the life of the textiles themselves. We also worked to improve the in-Canada capacity for textile manufacturing through making all the articles in the London facility with a social benefits model that focuses on newcomer skills training, functional language education, and a supportive workplace culture with fair wages and benefits. This entire project is designed to serve as a model for the fashion industry globally to create a more sustainable product cycle that values the workers who manufacture the goods as well.”

Through the COVID-19 pandemic, the project has pivoted in significant ways to get to its December online unveiling. “Originally, the WORTH products were set to launch in a retail model in May, 2020 – and we all went into lockdown on March 13th. We had our workers all set up and their training fully underway; the project was ready to go. As a response, we pivoted immediately with Goodwill into making face masks through implementing a best-practice remote and safe garment manufacturing platform. In a way, this experience took the development of WORTH further because now the infrastructure and workers are in place – Goodwill is set to take on ongoing manufacturing of the face masks and now add in the additional fashion items. It’s set the project up for long-lasting success with Goodwill to carry further, and now through this online e-commerce platform the reach is greater.”

The e-commerce platform and social media promotional strategy were developed by students from Fanshawe’s Lawrence Kinlin School of Business and has been adopted by Goodwill into its ongoing platform to maintain. “What’s amazing is the empowerment of everyone in the whole WORTH sustainability model,” adds Wright. “Not only is the customer buying a piece of fashion that is 100 per cent unique, they’re contributing to the betterment of the world through sustainable purchasing choices. They’re supporting a whole cycle of fashion manufacturing that supports the manufacturing workers and adds value back at the end of the textile’s life span.”

The “WORTH Love Again” website is at https://worthloveagain.com

CRI acknowledges the generous support of the Natural Science and Engineering Research Council in this research project.