Brands are making fashion out of plastic waste

Since 2009, World Ocean Day has been celebrated on 8 June, a day that only seems to become more topical. Because although it initially began to reflect on all the beauty that the ocean has to offer, it is increasingly overshadowed by the gigantic soup of plastic waste floating in it. Fashion brands are also concerned and this is reflected in numerous initiatives.

A number of good examples in a row.

The problem with this gigantic plastic soup is that the elements of plastic break down into smaller pieces, but never completely disappear. Those plastic particles are eaten by fish and jellyfish, which are then eaten by larger animals such as birds and sharks. Some animals die immediately, others wait for a slow poisoning death. Furthermore, the particles also influence the seabed life of the seas themselves.

If you are talking about plastic, then you should not only think of the usual examples such as water and soft drink bottles that are thrown away. Synthetic items of clothing, for example, also release tiny plastic fibers when washing and you can already guess where they end up.

It is not for nothing that the fashion industry is called ‘one of the most polluting industries in the world’. Since plastic is not degradable, it must be destroyed and that in turn has significant consequences for the environment. Or of course it can get a second life in the form of recycling and it is where more fashion brands respond. A few examples:


Earlier the Austrian leg fashion brand Wolford already made a fully recyclable collection, nowadays they also make tights from Econyl yarn made from recycled fishing nets and other nylon waste. To do this, they joined forces with the Italian Aquafil Group, which is committed to making high-quality but durable nylon fibers.

Brands are making fashion out of plastic waste
©Ellen von Unwerth/Wolford

The nice thing is that the tights look just as fashionable and qualitative as the others in the collection, but they do support an initiative that is committed to restoring the largest environmental system on earth; the ocean


Since jeans are usually made of cotton, there is not much that can be recycled. Yet the American jeans brand Wrangler does its utmost to commit itself to our ocean. Firstly, they have launched the Indigood dyeing process for which no water has to be used at all, which results in 60% less waste and for which also 60% less energy is used.

Brands are making fashion out of plastic waste

They also open that process to other brands, so that anyone who wants to can dye his or her clothes more sustainably. In addition, they are also organizing a major plastic cleaning in collaboration with Port area to pick up all bottles, cans and other debris.


Timberland has been committed to producing their shoes in a more sustainable way for years, but with the ReBOTL collection, they are raising their intentions even further. The soles of the sneakers of that collection are namely 50% made from recycled PET bottles.

Brands are making fashion out of plastic waste

The fabric is then made entirely from a material that can then be recycled and is degradable. Since 2009, the brand has been able to reuse the equivalent of 310 million plastic water bottles in their collections.


The Belgian chain JBC has also been making efforts for years to make our wardrobe greener, including with the I AM eco-house label. This sustainable fashion line only uses ecological materials and is produced with the lowest possible environmental impact.

The newest member of the I AM collection was appropriately christened I AM Ocean. “With this, we really want to reflect on the negative consequences of the plastic soup in our oceans,” says Valerie Geluykens, Corporate Social Responsibility Manager at JBC. The slogans on the T-shirts make no mistake: ‘Less plastic, more ocean life’. The collection used organic cotton and also recycled materials.


The idea for O’Neill literally originated on a surfboard in the water, so it is no wonder that the surf, snow and lifestyle brand has a warm heart for the ocean.

Brands are making fashion out of plastic waste

One of the goals that can be read on the website of the brand is to leave the ocean as clean as when the label was launched in 1952. They do this by, among other things, using Bionic threads for their clothes, which include other recycled plastic.


The Swedish chain Arket is also committed to the ocean, with a sustainable swimming collection that, just like Wolford, uses Econyl yarn. The chain manufactured its swimming collections since the start in 2017.


There are various items for both men and women. The other chain within the H&M group Weekday also launched a 100% sustainable collection at the beginning of March, which also includes recycled plastic waste.

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