When Swedish retail giant H&M first launched its garment collecting initiative in 2013, offering consumers a percentage off the price of their next purchase in exchange for contributing unwanted clothing to in-store receptacles, few believed the donations would find their way back onto the shop floor as part of future collections.
But in February 2014, a denim collection featuring 20 percent recycled cotton made its debut and H&M has said it’s working on fabric-salvaging technology that will help increase that ratio. Other forward-thinking brands committing to closed-loop textiles include Patagonia and Puma—and Speedo is diving headfirst into the circular economy, too.
The storied swimwear brand, a PVH Corp. licensee, last month launched Powerflex Eco, a collection of swimsuits, shorts, briefs and tops made from recycled materials.
Speedo partnered with Italian yarn maker Aquafil to upcycle fabric remnants from its factories which were then regenerated into Econyl, a synthetic textile made using other such waste as abandoned fishing nets and old carpets.
Powerflex Eco combines 78 percent Econyl with 22 percent Extra Life Nylon fabric to bow chlorine resistant pieces that retain their shape up to 10 times longer than traditional swimwear. Available in the U.S., Canada and Mexico, the collection ranges in price from $40 to $79.
“We are challenging apparel manufacturers to be more sustainable and restructure their supply chain to divert waste from landfill,” said Giulio Bonazzi, chairman and CEO of Aquafil. “Our partnership with Speedo USA shows their commitment to the environment with the take-back program, but also their ingenuity in creating products from materials that can be recycled an infinite number of times. They are really helping us close the loop and create a more sustainable manufacturing process.”