The 5 R’s of Circular Fashion, Explained – Plus, Why Adding ‘Reflection’ Matters

Nora Cummings, Head of Impact at Neiman Marcus Saint Louis store circularity event FASHIONPHILE

What does circularity mean for FASHIONPHILE?


Circularity, at its core, means seeing items for the value they bring beyond their end point of sale. Since 1999, FASHIONPHILE has ensured timeless ultra-luxury items remain in circulation for as long as possible. And joining forces with Neiman Marcus in 2019 has allowed us to advance our circularity goals to reduce, reuse, refurbish, recycle and repair. There’s no other fashion category that compares to ultra-luxury resale – where you can shop and sell both vintage and current designer handbags, accessories, jewelry and watches. These pieces endure lifetimes. 

Our Head of Impact Nora Cummings attended an event at the Neiman Marcus Saint Louis store to shed more light on the importance of circularity in fashion. Nora participated as a panelist alongside Saint Louis-based Fine Jewelry designer Adam Foster, and Laura Sawyier, Founder and CEO of LKS Styling and Consulting. Together they discussed circularity in the fashion industry, what the five R’s focus on, and why adding “Reflection” matters. 

How Circularity Is The Core of FASHIONPHILE’s Mission

Circularity is the core of FASHIONPHILE’s mission. The selling and buying experience is truly what defines our business. Whether you sell to shop with us or sell and shop with Neiman Marcus, you have the option to do both all in one trip! Neiman Marcus aims to extend the useful life of 1,000,000 luxury items through circular services such as alterations, restoration, resale, and donation by 2025 and is a proud member of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation – the world’s leading authority on the circular economy. 

Since 2019, our unique partnership with Neiman Marcus has enabled us to extend the useful life of over 65,000 luxury goods. As leaders in digital and omnichannel luxury experiences, Neiman Marcus and FASHIONPHILE join forces to provide an integrated circular service that transforms the resale landscape through artificial intelligence and elevates the conversation on second hand luxury goods.

Nora Cummings, Head of Impact at Neiman Marcus Saint Louis store circularity event FASHIONPHILE
Nora Cummings, Head of Impact, photographed by Suzy Gorman Photo

The 5 R’s of Circular Fashion, Explained

At the heart of FASHIONPHILE’s business, our focus with circularity is to reduce, reuse, restore, refurbish, recycle and repair. Our partnership with Neiman Marcus is helping us achieve these goals. The following are the takeaways that our Head of Impact, Nora Cummings, had shared further explaining what these 5 R’s mean. 



“When you participate in resale, you are reducing the number of items that may eventually end up in a landfill. By choosing resale, you are investing in items that do not require additional resources to create new products. Resale has a positive environmental impact. Our focus on reducing our impact is across the board from our business model and slogan ‘Shop, Sell, Repeat’ to our internal operations and facilities.”  



“Luxury designer items hold their value. For instance, an Hermes Birkin or a Kelly bag. These items are all handcrafted by skilled artisans who train in their craft for years before they work on a bag. There is no end of life for brands like Chanel, Dior, Rolex and more. Because these pieces have become a real asset class now. We see a lot of young customers that would rather buy a vintage Louis Vuitton than buy a new bag, just because it’s different from what is currently available in the market, and they feel it is right for the planet.” 


Refurbishing / Re-styling

“In Japan, circular retail started years ago; they are the most established region in the world when it comes to circular retail. When our customers in Japan buy a bag they also refresh their closet by selling us a couple of bags they are no longer using. With limited space, you need to have a plan and be creative! 

Refurbishing at FASHIONPHILE also means cleaning, which is part of our process with bags, shoes, fine jewelry and watches. That means polishing the jewelry, changing watch batteries etc. But beyond refurbishing, customers have the option to re-style their favorite ultra-luxury items by giving them a fresh look. Add a new strap to your bag, or throw on a bag charm or a twilly. This is a great way to give your items an updated look!” 



Luxury items are 250% less likely to ever end up in a landfill than fast fashion. But I don’t even want to think of a Birkin or a Chanel bag in a landfill. There are so many options besides throwing it away. Sell it, gift it, or donate it!”



“Big repairs are left to the experts. Doing it right by the brands is a must for us. At FASHIONPHILE we make sure that nothing takes away from the authenticity of the brand. We are hoping in the near future that we will have a unique repair service in-house.”    

Why Adding ‘Reflection’ Matters

During this discussion, another R was brought up. Reflection, as shared by our Head of Impact Nora Cummings, is an additional R recommended by her star intern, Jason Boerst, who is a Gen Z and very much in touch with saving the planet. 

“Taking time to reflect on your purchases, reflect on the things you already own and how you can apply one of these R’s throughout your ultra-luxury journey. At the end of the day it will take all of us to make an effort and commit to making a difference. 

It’s also worth mentioning that FASHIONPHILE along with other circular retailers have joined forces and formed the American Circular Textiles (ACT) policy group, spearheaded by the Circular Service Group and Resource Recycling System. Together we are working toward sustainable textile policies in the U.S. 

Thank you for this opportunity to spend time with all of you tonight. Thank you Neiman Marcus for hosting this event. They are setting the gold standard for sustainability in retail and I hope others follow their lead.”

Since day one, FASHIONPHILE has valued circularity. Through our partnership with Neiman Marcus, we’re committed to reducing, reusing, restoring, refurbishing, recycling and repairing in every way possible. We continue to seek opportunities for improvement. Learn more about our sustainability journey and environmental impact here.