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This ‘Fully Circular’ Jacket Fights Microplastic Pollution

It’s said that a magician never reveals his secrets, but then again, Houdini Sportswear never claimed to be one.

On Wednesday, the Swedish outdoor-wear company, in partnership with Polartec, unveiled Project Mono Air, the world’s first fleece jacket “designed to fight plastic waste” by reducing microfiber shedding and using recycled and recyclable materials. But more than a garment, Project Mono Air is also an initiative, one that’s completely open source for anyone who wants to adopt the technology. In other words, Houdini is giving it all away.

“We are making it open source, sharing every component, design decision and our circular principles behind Project Mono Air because we believe collaboration is essential in order to truly transform the apparel industry from linear and wasteful to circular and waste-free,” Eva Karlsson, CEO of Houdini Sportswear, told Sourcing Journal.

Houdini Sportswear's Project Mono Air jacket made with Polartec fleece fights microplastic pollution via recycled and recyclable materials.
Women’s Power Air Crew Courtesy

The heart of Project Mono Air is the Mono Air fabric, which Houdini says sheds 80 percent fewer microfibers than conventional fleece, whose loose textile construction encourages shedding in the wash or even from everyday wear. A 2016 investigation by Plymouth University found that washing polyester, acrylic and nylon textiles in industrial laundries and households can slough off as many as 700,000 tiny plastic particles per cycle. A follow-up study published in March estimated that a person could release as many 900 million microplastics into the air every year simply by wearing synthetic clothing.

Mono Air, on the other hand, employs “endlessly long and lofty” fibers, knitted into small pockets between two layers of breathable fabric. These pockets, Houdini says, trap warm air from the wearer’s body to create insulation while preventing the insulating fibers from escaping. The material comprises 80 percent recycled and recyclable polyester, a “monomaterial construction” that Karlsson said makes it “ideal for a circular flow where natural resources aren’t wasted.” (Houdini will take back all products for repair, reuse or recycling.)

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Project Mono Air is kicking off with a $200 Mono Air Houdi jacket, which boasts a slim fit, a high-collar hood and extra-long sleeves with thumb loops. A Power Air sweatshirt, with a classic crewneck, and a Mono Air Half-Zip, a collared pullover, are forthcoming.

Houdini Sportswear's Project Mono Air jacket made with Polartec fleece fights microplastic pollution via recycled and recyclable materials.
Women’s Mono Air Half Zip Courtesy

Polartec has been working on cracking the microplastics code for years. In late 2018, the textile manufacturer launched Power Air, a knit construction that wraps lofted fibers within a multilayer, continuous yarn so it sheds at least five times less than comparable premium fabrics without compromising on warmth. It’s been finessing its technique since.

When Houdini and Polartec put the finishing touches on Mono Air, they knew they had something they couldn’t keep to themselves. Beginning this week, they’ll be sharing on Houdini’s website all the “design work and technology,” along with the circular principles they’re aligning with for anyone to “learn on and build on.” After all, one garment and one company is not enough to fix fashion’s pollution problem, Karlsson said.

“We share a home and we share our problems,” she added. “Why not share the solutions?”