Group of young people wearing TS Designs' sustainable and circular t-shirts

What is Circularity in fashion?

Sustainability is as important as ever in the minds of consumers and TS Designs tops the list of domestic and sustainably made clothing with a trackable and transparent supply chain. Many people understand the concept of “Circularity,”  but what is it exactly and how is it different from sustainability?

The short answer is while sustainability addresses the broader principles and practices that consider the overall impact of the apparel industry, circularity is a specific approach within sustainability that revolves around creating a closed-loop system where products are designed, produced, used, and then recycled or upcycled back into the system. The goal is to minimize waste and extend the life cycle of products.

Circularity at TS Designs

The current fashion model is linear. At least 30% of apparel is never sold and ends up in a landfill or being burned. Fast fashion (and now ultra fast fashion) encourages people to buy cheap and often with an average clothing life cycle of 7 months or less in many cases! This is not sustainable and is one of the reasons TS Designs takes extra efforts to participate in the circular apparel business model.


  • Pre-Consumer Recycling: Any textile waste we produce in manufacturing is either reused by using scraps to level load our dye tubs or is recycled to Material Return which turns it into new products. In fact, last year alone we recycled 11,254 lbs of cotton waste with them!
  • Post-Consumer Upcycling and Composting: For a product to be created with a circular business model it must be consciously designed that way from the beginning. For example, all of our t-shirts are made with 100% cotton fibers, and so are the threads that sew it together. Many cotton shirts are sewn together with polyester thread, which disrupts the ability for the cotton to be composted without releasing microplastics into the environment. Dyes and inks used in our printing are eco-friendly, so they too, will dissolve into the earth.
Image of a folded pile of super soft TS Designs t-shirts against a wood floor with natural cotton close by.

T-Shirts: Our shirts are made to last for years (or decades!) with 100% ringspun cotton, durable stitching, and reinforced neck and shoulder seams. Besides composting, our shirts can also be upcycled into new projects.

Photo of Eric Henry sporting the protypte for our new hemp/cotton beanie, dyed with black walnut natural dye.

Beanies: Eric Henry is sporting the prototype for our new lightweight beanie that’s made with 30% domestic hemp fiber and 70% cotton that is dyed with natural black walnuts. Even the label that will be sewn on it will be 100% cotton with cotton thread. Stay tuned for this new product truly built for circularity!

Thought Leadership

Eric Henry, CEO of TS Designs is often being asked to contribute his thought leadership to sustainably minded events.

As Circularity is becoming important he had the privilege to be a panelist at the Circular Charlotte conference last month, with a diverse group of individuals exploring various perspectives of circularity.

He said, “It has injected a sense of optimism into an otherwise depressing landscape. The event brought together new faces and stimulating conversations, offering a glimmer of hope amid the prevailing uncertainties.”

Image of Eric attending the Circular Charlotte event with two inspirational young people.

“My highlight was the opportunity to be on a panel with CT Anderson. Her innovative work being at Springclean was inspiring. The collaborative spirit and dedication to sustainable practices displayed by individuals like CT Anderson gives me hope. Shout out to Gordon Holliday for the cool outfit made from curtains from IKEA and Skylee Lawton for moderating our panel.”

Later this month, Eric was invited to be a panelist at the 10th Annual University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC) CleanTech Summit in a session about “Disrupting the Textile Industry.” We are all about disrupting and look forward to making new connections and the inspiring conversations coming out of this summit!

Shop Circular, Shop Sustainable: Supporting TS Designs and Solid State Clothing

Despite all the competition from low cost ultra fast fashion companies such Temu and Shein, and despite that multiple apparel companies we know of have gone out of business in the last few months, (topics for another discussion!), TS Designs will stay the course and continue on the path of sustainability, including creating for and contributing to the circular economy. 

Please continue your support by ordering long lasting, high-quality apparel in these times when cheapest is not the best way to go.

Whether you need shirts printed for your organization or an event, TS Designs has sustainable and circular options.  Don’t need printing? Add a meticulously crafted, locally grown and made t-shirt to your wardrobe with our retail brand Solid State Clothing.

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TS Designs manufactures the highest quality printed t-shirts in a domestic, transparent, and trackable supply chain. We work with brands who want to provide their customers with responsibly made clothing that positively impacts people and the planet.