Wool²: Recycled Wool Style Is Here

Amsterdam’s Creative City Lab (CCL) is currently developing a sustainable fashion collection from old wool sweaters. Now on oneplanetcrowd, the goal of the collection is to reduce the enormous amount of clothing waste in the Netherlands and to also show that wool waste can be a sustainable and stylish design material – not only just in the fashion industry but also in other industries ranging from architecture to interior and automotive design. Watch here for more background about about this great initiative and some woollen inspiration!

The average lifespan of our clothing is getting shorter and shorter and this has consequences for people and nature, namely in the form of huge amounts of textile waste. The Netherlands has a current clothing storage of about 235 kilotons, which amounts to about 350 football fields full of clothes. Almost 70% of this clothing ends up going directly into the incinerator or being downcycled into, for example, cleaning rags. But instead of seeing this enormous pile of textiles as waste or a material for low-grade recycling, CCL founder Ellen Mensink instead sees an opportunity for upcycling. She subsequently started the Recycle Lab Circular Fashion last year. Their first initiative is focusing on the upcycling wool into high-style fashions with the goal of ultimately expanding into the recycling wool for use as a design material in upholstery, interiors, cars, carpets and more.

Upcycling: From Waste to Fashion:

When the Recycle Lab started out, lack of textile waste in the Netherlands was certainly not a problem. What was a challenge for Recycled Lab though was to pick out the right textiles from a virtual textile waste mountain of different colours and material compositions. After months spent researching the technical feasibility of the project and the market, the team developed and refined their production process – from the collection and sorting of 10,000 kg of discarded Dutch wool sweater to fibering and spinning the yarns into new fashions. They currently have a number of production partners including a fibre company, a spinner and a knitting company involved and they are also working together with local prisoners who help to first sort the stock by material and colour, as well as to remove accessories (zippers, buttons, labels etc.).

Design by Conny Groenewegen:

The first available samples of sweater and scarves from the Wool² Collection are currently available on crowdfunding (link). This first collection was designed by Conny Groenewegen, an innovative knitwear designer who has won the 2011 International Fashion Incubator Award and the Mercedes-Benz Dutch Fashion Award. She specializes in (mechanical) knitting and her designs are known for expressing the tension between mechanization and trade, as well as industry and craft.

Environmental Benefits:

The recycling of ‘waste’ clothing has many environmental advantages. No animal unfriendly practices take place and there is a reduction in the need for the production of natural, virgin fibres. This saves nearly 11 kg of CO2 per kilogram of wool yarn – or 6 kg of C02 per wool sweater. By reusing existing colourful clothing, no environmentally unfriendly toxic washing of dyeing processes are required and furthermore, more than 500 litres of water per 1 kg of yarn is saved. There is also a reduction in the transport needs because the raw materials come from our own homes, making the production process more transparent.

Get involved:

Creative City Lab’s initiative is currently on . In addition to helping launch a movement towards upcycling waste into new fashion, investors in this new project will receive an exclusive designer woollen sweater as a thanks!