How was your radical use of recycled materials received in the fashion world ?
Five years after Ecoalf's creation, I must say that our concept is well established, beyond just the Spanish market. This approach has resonated with the greater public and has enabled us to set ourselves apart from other companies. The toughest part of this whole endeavour has been demonstrating that we were capable of using recycled materials to create products with the same appearance, the same texture and the technical properties required for manufacturing as the best non-recycled products sold by the major clothing and accessories brands.
Has the originality of your recycling processes contributed much to the success of your positioning ?
In reality, this "radical" positioning, as you call it, induces a development strategy based on innovation. Ecoalf is constantly investing in the development of new recycling processes which can be applied to all types of materials contained in waste. Where most people will see a bin, we see raw materials. We have established eleven alliances at an international level to carry out the recycling of a varied range of used products. Besides recycled cotton yarn, we use nylon fishing nets to manufacture swimsuits, bags or iPad cases, or plastic bottles and coffee grounds to manufacture parkas…
For producing fibres from coffee grounds, for instance, we did not simply opt for exploiting the patent owned by the Taiwanese company Singtex Industrials. We worked with the company to develop new textures.
How has the fishing world reacted to your idea of recycling old textile fishing nets ?
In countries such as Spain, with a long and established maritime tradition, our process caught the attention of those people who desire to see the oceans protected. Recycling fishing nets fits in perfectly with the series of projects aimed at recycling port and marine waste.
What does Ecoalf gain from forging alliances with leading international brands ?
Partnerships with brands such as Apple, Barneys and Goop constitute another important line for development. We have created an exclusive line of iPad cases for Canadian and American Apple Stores. And China is next.
Besides their beneficial effects in terms of image and business, these co-branding operations are very rewarding in terms of design and Research & Development. The two new alliances we have struck up for the 2014 season should demonstrate this added value.
What types of innovations can we look forward to seeing in your next collections ?
We are currently finalizing a range of 25 new fabrics for our next collection. These fabrics have appearances and textures that were unimaginable as recently as last year. Another of our innovations is the launch of a range of flip flops made from old tyres. This particular innovation is the result of investments made in a 2-year research and development project in partnership with the La Rioja Footwear Technology Centre.