How recycled plastic turns into sneakers and glasses?
The other day the Independent published an article about designer sunglasses made from oceanic debris – a project of the Spanish company Sea2see. To create the frames Sea2see collected plastic near the coasts of Catalonia with fishing nets. According to the founder of the company Francois van den Abeele, more than 90% of the waste that fishermen ‘extract’ from the sea can be processed and reused:
‘Fashion is the second most polluting industry in the world after the oil and gas industry. And the production of glasses is a huge segment of it. The product is made entirely of plastic, the decomposition of which in nature takes hundreds of years. So far almost nothing has been done for sustainable development in this area’.
Plastic processing: from Paco Rabanne to American Apparel
Under the current agenda the Sea2see initiative looks like one of the most logical and expected steps to introduce recycled plastic into production. But the history of using recyclables in fashion started much earlier. The idea of using plastic waste was expressed back in the late 90s by Paco Rabbane. In 2002 the collection with the strong title Recycled – made entirely from recycled plastic – was shown by the Canadian duo Dsquared2. Three designers from London launched a project called Everything you buy is rubbish, for which they collected plastic on the English coasts, melted and sewed bright sneakers from the recycled material. For a long time, however, the ecological theme remained a niche in the global fashion industry. One of the first statements about the mass use of recycled plastic in clothes was the collection of jewellery by American Apparel released in 2008 for the Earth Day.
An important role in informing the public about the possibilities that recycling plastic can bring was the campaign of a designer Barbara de Vries, when she embroidered the Loomstate shirts with plastic slices and exhibited them in a pavilion of plastic bottles on Art Basel Miami in 2010. All the plastic for the exhibition was collected by the designer herself on the coasts of the Bahamas. Guess what – T-shirts were quickly sold at Barneys in New York.
Text: Irina Gorskaia
Images: Business of Fashion, WWD