Somewhere between resource recovery, vintage fashion and creative recycling, a new trend is emerging: manufacturing clothing from recycled PET, PVC and other plastics.
Patagonia, a pioneer
It was in 1993 that Patagonia, a pioneer in the field, introduced its first lines of clothes manufactured from recycled PET bottles. In just over 13 years, 86 million fizzy drink bottles were used to produce jackets, fleece garments, shorts, etc.
Their range of clothes, made from recycled PET, was enlarged and then they developed a new recycling programme: your used fleece clothing to be used in the manufacture of new garments thanks to a new process invented by Teijin limited: Eco-Circle (see part one).
Sport and PET go well together
Since then, Patagonia has been much emulated. Burton, Quicksilver, Billabong, but also quite recent companies such as Bleed clothing, Teko, Volcom or Montainsmith have chosen recycled PET for their ranges of clothing for outdoor sports and extreme sports.
These models are not only strong, warm, flexible and sweat-permeable but also advantageous from the environmental point of view: each kilogram of recycled PET prevents the production of over three kilograms of greenhouse gases such as CO2.
The first fashion parade for clothes made from recycled PET bottles took place last February in Basle, during Green Fashion Switzerland.
There, PET-recycling Schweiz (a Swiss association for the collection of PET bottles) presented snowboard outfits from the 2010/2011 collection.
When plastic footwear become a work of art
It is not only sports clothing manufacturers who are interested in recycled fibres!
Today, the Brazilian brand Melissa, which has been in existence for over 30 years, markets several million pairs worldwide of the “all-plastic” shoes made of recycled PVC.
Not content with introducing ecological all-plastic footwear, Melissa have also developed a concept as technical (material, colour and injection machine) as aesthetic, calling in top-of-the-range creators over the years.
The adventure began with a few models designed by Jean Paul Gauthier and Thierry Mugler, but it is, above all, its association with Vivienne Westwood which will be remembered.
She created two recycled PVC models for the well-known brand, one of which, “Mary Jane,” was retro-inspired; and the other ultra-classic but decorated with an enormous heart on the toe. The two were to become a rage all around the world.
Then in 2008 came the association with Zaha Hadid, who designed an original and very architectural pair of shoes.
And finally, last summer, it was Jean Paul Gauthier who created a pair of “girlicious” court shoes, 100% recycled and recyclable.
Recycled PET in a ready-to-wear version
But you can also wear recycled PET without being a sportsperson or a fashion victim: this year, the famous Swedish brand H&M launched its new flowery and hippy, chic line “the Garden Collection” created from durable materials, fabric cuttings and recycled PET bottles.
In the United Kingdom, creators for the British chain store Debenhams have created a lady’s suit at a very affordable price made entirely from recycled bottles. Each suit requires 50 PET bottles.