Gwen Cunningham is the Lead of the Textiles Programme at Circle Economy, where she manages a team of five circular textiles experts, and steers the programme’s strategic development and internationalization, in order to meet its impact goals. Her background and expertise in circular textiles and apparel has a focus on circular design, business model innovation and end-of-use value chains.
Since joining Circle Economy in 2014, Gwen has managed a number of pre-competitive, multi—stakeholder initiatives, aimed at supporting apparel brands in the practical uptake of circular strategies within their operations. As project manager for the post-consumer recycled denim (PCRD) working group in the ‘Alliance for Responsible Denim’ she led a consortium of 40 denim brands, suppliers and recyclers in the development and integration of post- consumer recycled fibre. In 2016, she led the development of the Circle Fashion Tool, an online tool that enables brands to assess the circular performance of their business and identify key opportunities for improvement.
Most recently Gwen led the ‘Switching Gear Project’ (2018-2021), which aimed to accelerate the practical implementation of resale and rental business models in the apparel industry. The project guided four apparel brands—LINDEX, Asket, ETP, and Kuyichi—on a circular innovation process towards the design and launch rental and/or resale business model pilots by 2021. Additionally, the project connected the participating brands to the Switching Gear Enabling Network (SGEN), a global collective of 50+ solution providers, innovators, front running brands and experts who can support the operationalization and scaling of the respective pilots. The knowledge and insights developed over the course of the project were published in an open-source Circular Toolbox; a step-by-step guide for apparel brands, who want to launch a circular business model in under 10 months.