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Style, innovation & equality
Innovation

ARKET and unique supplier Re:down’s new outerwear line Upcycled Down aims to find recycling solutions for a part of the massive textile waste

Last fall’s limited collection of recycled down was a great success. ”So for this fall, it has increased a lot!” says Re:down’s co-founder Eric Firmann.

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Text: Johan Magnusson

The German brand focuses on the bulky down and feather post consumer goods and try to do the best out of each material.

— Down and feathers are re-processed so that they can be re-used in decoration and apparel, the fabric shells are prepared for the insulation industry and even our own down and feather waste is changed into organic fertilizer. 97% of our input is recycled, says Firmann.

Regarding the down for apparel, he continues, Re:down has lots of advantages.

— It has the same performances, same thermal function and same durability as virgil down. And also very high cleanliness as Re:down is washed with warm thermal water and sterilized at 135°C. The prices are competitive and more stable with no influence of bird flu and less speculation on raw material. Last but not least it’s traceable from the post consumer goods ’til the new finished products after GRS certification.

Who do you work with?

— We started our business with outdoor brands but pretty quickly fashion brands joined, and the activewear brands offer more and more urban styles filled with Re:down. It is the case for Bergans of Norway, or Skogstad. We are also very proud of our collaboration with Tommy Hilfiger. They used Re:down in many styles and did a great communication job globally. In Scandinavia, we are very happy to see that Re:down is used from so many brands, with different market positioning: it goes from (sportswear retailer) Stadium to luxury and design brands like Toteme. And then H&M Group and ARKET.

ARKET’s Head of Design Anna Teurnell explains the Swedish retail chain’s pronounced mission to create long-lasting and durable products that the customer will be able to keep and use for many years.

— This means that the sustainability aspect is naturally incorporated in all steps — especially when it comes to supplier and material choices. For us, transparency is a necessary companion to sustainability, and the reason why we try to convey as much information about the design and production process as possible. As a customer you are able to view the supplier and factory for each product online and find several supplier stories if you want to learn more about the production and materials. We also use our different social channels to talk about care for products as a way of prolonging their lifespan.

For their down products, ARKET has chosen to work with Re:down since the beginning of the brand.

— We really appreciate their transparency when it comes to materials and suppliers. ARKET really explains well to the consumer where the product comes from, how it has been made. In particular, they are telling the Re:down story very well! says Eric Firmann.

— Last autumn, we together launched a limited collection of recycled down outerwear. It was a great success, both in terms of what we want to achieve with sustainable design and more carefully made fashion, and how well it was received by our customers, says Anna Teurnell, continuing,

— For this year, we decided to reintroduce these products as a broader program named Upcycled Down containing not only outerwear for men and women but also a series of recycled down accessories, as well as products for children. Upcycled Down is a collection of lightweight outerwear and accessories offering superior warmth from only reclaimed natural materials. The name captures our ambition to innovate circular products with a contemporary aesthetic. We work with several suppliers who are specialised in certain materials and/or production ways. By collaborating with them we get insights and knowledge they have acquired during years of development. We strive to increase the amount of sustainably sourced materials in our collections and working with a supplier like Re:Down is an important step in achieving this goal.

— The men’s collection in this partnership has increased a lot for this fall, says Firmann. The puffer jacket that was so successful last year is still there and comes in new colors. There is also a lighter jacket and a big parka available this season. I like the new accessories, such as gloves, scarf, sleepers and caps. They look new, different and are super comfortable.

What else do you have coming?

— We have a lot of internal projects in order to improve Re:down, says Firmann. We are working on an automatic extraction facility. Currently, the down and feathers are extracted from the post consumer goods manually. Our goal is to do this mechanically in a near future. Re:down is all about finding solutions to change waste into value. We are collaborating with the Swiss company Fluidsolids on biodegradable composites made out of Re:down waste such as broken feathers and down fibers. This material could then be used in the fashion industry and replace single-use plastics such as sock hooks, cap hangers and shirt clips. If we want to become circular, all the players must take part! We are developing collection systems with retailers in order to collect more post consumer goods. It is crucial that the end consumer gets more and better information about how down and feathers can be recycled.

— On November 14, we’re launching a limited-edition Swedish glögg made in collaboration with Blossa, a long-established maker of mulled wine based here in Stockholm, says Anna Teurnell. It’s a version of their traditional organic and non-alcoholic glögg but in a unique bottle specially made for us. The label features a beautiful illustration by artist Ilon Wikland, known for her work with Astrid Lindgren. It’s a very special collaboration for us, capturing our Nordic soul, and definitely one of the reasons why I long for Christmas this year! We also have so many fun things happening in 2020 and many of them include menswear. In January we will launch a new very exciting project.