December 5, 2022

Ahluwalia and Microsoft Collaborate on Circulate, A Web App for Upcycling Clothing –

  • November 12, 2021
  • 4 min read
Ahluwalia and Microsoft Collaborate on Circulate, A Web App for Upcycling Clothing –

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British fashion label Ahluwalia and Microsoft are merging design, culture, and technology to reimagine sustainable fashion. Founder and namesake Priya Ahluwalia is sharing her dedication to ethical and environmentally friendly practices with all through Circulate. The new web app powered by Microsoft is releasing its beta launch in London, the designer's home city. It allows users to receive credit for donating gently used clothing for upcycling rather than disposing of it in a landfill. Ahluwalia will then use the donated items to create new pieces for her collections. The program is intended to create a circular fashion cycle in which clothes take on new forms instead of polluting the Earth.
Large amounts of waste are one cause of emissions, so reducing trash is a priority to establish a more ethical fashion industry. Ahluwalia and Microsoft's new program is aimed toward alleviating the problem. Circulate's mission is to make an eco-friendly alternative to throwing away clothing and to make it accessible to everyone through technology.
Taking direction from her Indian and Nigerian heritage, Ahluwalia created Circulate with shared practices in mind. She considered the significance of handing down clothing and other items to have cultural value. “In both Indian and Nigerian cultures, it is tradition to pass clothes and personal effects down from generation to generation,” she shared in a press release. “I personally have lots of special items from different family members that are very dear to me. For example, my great-grandad’s first English dictionary and many clothes my mum wore in her 20s. This ritual was a key inspiration when developing Circulate.”
This is a continuation of Ahluwalia’s sustainability efforts as a designer that have similarly been influenced by her background. After seeing the impact of clothing dumping in India and Nigeria, a common occurrence in the Global South, Ahluwalia became committed to non-harmful fashion. Taking note of the use of second-hand clothes at Aswani Market in Lagos, Nigeria, and Panipat, India, the global capital of recycling clothes, she opted to repurpose pieces when designing new creations. Known for her streetwear, Ahluwalia’s pieces are taken from the used clothes and repurposed into patchwork, putting a twist on a popular trend and the growing sustainability movement. Her work has received major awards and recognition from both fashion and environmental communities.
Circulate uses Microsoft technology to screen clothing donations, which facilitates the process of collecting used pieces. The press release explains, “Users upload images of their garments which are then instantly analyzed by the Microsoft Computer Vision API for object, color, and OCR (Optical Character Recognition) to determine the garment’s relevance for the label’s design process and any upcoming collection plans.” 
Microsoft technology will allow the Ahluwalia team to find useable items more efficiently. Ahluwalia will put out an open call for specific types of clothing that the brand is planning to use. Once uploaded, the technology will analyze the garment and provide consumers with a shipping label addressed to the Ahluwalia studio.  Users will then send in their pieces and receive credits that can be used to shop at Ahluwalia. The brand currently has seven open calls for items, each labeled with a specific number of points for credits. 
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