By Sass Brown, NYC Editor
Born of frustration with the excessive use of the world’s natural resources and the amount of waste produced by industrialized countries, Ecoalf was founded on the principles of recycling. The intent to create a truly sustainable fashion brand started at the source, and as the result of limited choices in the marketplace of 100% recycled materials. Instead of sourcing from the limited options available, the brand decided to work directly with factory partnerships to develop a full range of materials that included fabrics, linings, straps, soles, labels and cords, all from 100% recycled materials, and none sacrificing quality or style in the process.
Investing in research and development, Ecoalf traveled the world to identify major waste streams, as well as the ideal manufacturing resources to help develop new fabrications. Working directly with industry partners, the brand currently has almost a dozen different alliances spread around the globe, continually developing the necessary elements to manufacture fashion and accessories from recycled materials. The materials that Ecoalf work with include discarded fishing nets, post consumer plastic bottles, worn out tyres, post-industrial cotton and wool, and used coffee grinds.
There is an understated, utilitarian elegance to the collection, which is stylistically reminiscent of heritage brands like Barbour, but with the all round practicality of Patagonia, and the technological fabrications of Nau. The brand encompasses a full range of women’s and men’s outerwear, swimsuits, sneakers and accessories, but particularly excel at outwear, with quilted bombers, trench coats, puffa jackets, and techno men’s suit jackets and hoodies all represented in the range.
The name Ecoalf comes from founder Javier Goyeneche’s son, Alfredo, and signifies his belief in what the next generation of fabrics should look like. Based in Madrid, and founded in 2009, the brand has become a global leader in sustainable clothing. Industry collaborations have included products developed for Ekocycle, Will.i.am and the Coco Cola company made from recycled PET, an Apple iPad case, and a nylon zip bag for Barney’s made entirely from recycled nylon fishing nets. Founded on the idea that recycling could be a solution to some of the world’s resource limitations, Ecoalf have contributed to significant developments in the realm of recycled materials.
Recycled coffee ground fabric is made from locally collected, and used coffee grounds from various diners. The grounds are taken to a recycling plant that regrinds them into a nano powder, which is mixed with recycled polyester polymers to create new yarn that becomes new fabric. The result is a fabric with unique properties, including fast drying, UV protection, and odor control.
After two full years of research and development, Ecoalf created a clean powder made from recycled car tyres that resulted in the latest addition to the collection – flip-flops. While they might look like any old flip-flops, their heritage is quite unique. Discarded tyres are notoriously difficult to recycle due to the mixed materials they contain which, complicates the process of recycling. Ecoalf however, have managed to compress the powder into flip-flops and sneaker soles without the use any glue, when toxic solvent-based glues are commonly used.
Last but not least, Ecoalf produce recycled nylon for discarded fishing nets. With an estimated 650,000 tons of fishing nets on the bottom of our oceans, causing no end of problems to wildlife and coral reefs alike, and fisherman generally replacing nets every two to three years, discarded nets are a major source of ocean pollution. Fishing nets are made however from the world’s best nylon, and as a monofilament, are entirely recyclable.
Ecoalf’s most ambitious project to date, might just be – Upcycling The Oceans, a project that uses fishermen off the coast of Levante, to collect ocean trash instead of fish. The project involves five Spanish partners, each leaders in their field, and the challenge lies in the inconsistent quality of debris removed from the sea. The goal is to achieve 100% recycled filaments of high technical quality and texture to produce recycled pellets, thread, fabric and products. Once again demonstrating that where others see trash, Ecoalf sees raw materials.
Photo Credit: Ecoalf