Circular fashion: Luxury brands switch to recycled plastic textiles

Jessica Satherley
Circular fashion: Luxury brands switch to recycled plastic textiles

Fashion houses are moving away from virgin nylon fabrics and are instead using regenerated nylon (Re-Nylon) made from waste products – using everything from fishing nets to consumer waste. 

But that hasn’t decreased the price tags.  

Prada’s eco-collection of six bags, ranging from belt bags and totes to backpacks cost between $750 and $1,790 USD.  

The Italian brand’s new project is a partnership with textile producer Aquafil, who manufacture ECONYL nylon. 

“ECONYL nylon is obtained through the recycling and purification process of plastic waste collected from oceans, fishing nets and textile fibre waste,’ Prada says. 

“The yarn is made through a process of depolymerisation and re-polymerisation and can be recycled indefinitely with no less quality,” their spokesperson says. 

"Our ultimate goal will be to convert all Prada virgin nylon into regenerated nylon by the end of 2021,” Prada Group Head of Marketing and Communication, Lorenzo Bertelli, says. 

For every 10,000 tons of ECONYL fabric created, 70,000 barrels of petroleum are saved, reducing environmental emissions of carbon dioxide by 57,100 tons. 

Prada isn’t the only high-end brand jumping on the ECONYL bandwagon. 

Brands including Stella McCartney, Adidas and Triumph are also using the synthetic fabric made from recycled plastics. 

Adidas’ Ultraboost Parley shoe is made from 85% Parley Ocean Plastic through a collaboration between the sports brand and environmental organisation ‘Parley for the Oceans’. 

Each pair is made with around 11 plastic bottles retrieved from coastal beaches. 

Adidas also released the first-ever golf shoe made from plastic waste-turned yarn in June and priced them at $200 USD. 

“Our company is extremely focused on sustainability and we wanted to incorporate that mission into our sport,” Adidas Golf’s Global Footwear Director, Masun Denison, said. 

The brand’s goal is to use 100% recycled polyester in all of their footwear and apparel by 2024. 

Stella McCartney has also just released the first ever 100% recyclable hoodie made from garment waste using NuCycl fibre by Evrnu and a tennis dress made from Microsilk and cellulose blended yarn. 

Around 92 million tonnes of textile waste are produced each year globally, so McCartney partnered with textile innovation company Evrnu to use recycled materials for her Adidas collection, their spokesperson said. 

“The hoodie is made from 60% NuCycl and 40% organic cotton that has been diverted from landfills and can be reused again and again to be remade into high-performance product,” Adidas says. 

“The tennis dress is made with cellulose blended yarn and Microsilk, a protein-based material that is made with renewable ingredients like water, sugar and yeast and has the ability to fully biodegrade at the end of its life,” the brand says. 

Stella McCartney says, “Fashion is one of the most harmful industries to the environment. 

“By creating a truly open approach to solving the problem of textile waste, we can help empower the industry at large to bring more sustainable practices into reality.” 

Some of the other fashion brands capitalising on sustainable fabrics are: Nike, who say that 75% of all their shoes and apparel contain some recycled material, outdoor fashion retailer Patagonia, athleisure startup Girlfriend Collective and footwear brand Allbirds. 

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