Old shirts are transformed into new ones using zero water, chemical, or dyes.
Marine Layer is a retro-inspired California clothing company that has recently earned an impressive qualification. It is the first in the world to take old t-shirts and transform them into brand new ones, using 100 percent recycled materials. The result is its Re-Spun collection, just launched on April 28 to much fanfare in the eco-fashion world.
Re-Spun shirts are made, quite literally, from the old t-shirts that supporters have mailed to the company or dropped off in store – an impressive 75,000 to date.These old shirts are sorted into four color groups, cleaned using waterless UV technology, broken down, and woven into a colored, upcycled cotton fiber. It is blended with 50 percent recycled PET fiber to create the final yarn. A press release states, "This waterless process saves 2,700 liters of water needed to produce one shirt."
The fabric breakdown takes place in Alicante, Spain, at a textile factory called Recover. Interestingly, Recover has been recycling fabrics since the 1940s, when people were looking for a solution to textile shortages during World War II. The yarn is sent to Los Angeles for milling and sewing, and from there the finished shirts are distributed to Marine Layer's 41 stores and online shop.
The shirts stay true to the "comfy old tee" feel for which Marine Layer is known. The initial collection consists of four shirts for men and four for women; each shirt varies slightly in color, an appealing quirk of using recycled materials. No water, chemicals, or dyes are used in production.
Best of all, Marine Layer has no intention of stopping with its initial Re-Spun collection. CEO Michael Natenshon said, "Within two years, we’re shooting to have 50 percent of our styles be a part of the Re-Spun program." Customers are urged to keep sending in their old shirts using a prepaid mailer, and will get $5 credit for each one, up to a total of $25.
It's exciting to see the innovative ways in which fashion companies are striving to reduce their environmental impact. This fabric recycling technology (which I've seen attempted by other companies but never completed successfully) promises to revolutionize the industry and make good use of the 80 pounds of clothing that the average American throws away each year. Using old clothes to make new – now that's truly sustainable fashion.
You can shop the Re-Spun collection here. Pieces range in price from $52 to $92.