Fast fashion exists in a paradigm that celebrates consumption and the vagaries of seasonality. The follies of such a philosophy are apparent from what’s left by the wayside. Piles of discarded, hardly-worn clothing that’s made to last only until the next collection hits the shelves. It’s antithetical to Vollebak’s core ethos of tough, functional garments.
Whether that means a puffer jacket that’s almost indestructible, or a practical phosphorescent-laden jacket that glows for hours after being charged something as simple as a torchlight, Vollebak is a British clothing brand that’s not afraid to make clothes that last as long as they need to. Naturally, this means that the waste generated from discarded or out-fashion winterwear from the brand’s already significant less than its contemporaries.
(Related: Sustainability in fashion: A to Z)
That’s not enough for the brand though. Enter the Vollebak Garbage Sweater. It’s not a joke, it is actually made from upcycled garbage – though said garbage is made of sturdier stuff than a crushed can of soda or banana peel. The techies at Vollebak went dumpster diving and dug up old bulletproof vests, firefighter suits and factory offcuts.
These materials can be broken down in aramids, which is what the brand uses for their sweaters. 70 per cent of the sweaters come from meta-aramid, an incredibly fire-resistant material that makes up firefighters’ suits. The final 30 per cent comes from para-amarid, commonly used in bulletproof vests. It’s powerful stuff – five times stronger than steel, pound for pound.
Aramids’ hardiness is exactly what’s making them such a headache in landfills – they can’t be incinerated because they won’t burn, and they take centuries to decompose in a dump (taking up valuable land space while they’re at it). Now though, it’s repurposed into warm, soft and fire-resistant kit.
The French-made jackets come with an offset three-button placket and high collar combo that’s itself inspired by Rambo’s upcycling on the silver screen (yes, really). In Rambo First Blood, Stallone himself turned discarded canvas into a stylish, functional look. Sound familiar? “It shows how easily our perception of what is and isn’t garbage can be altered,” says Vollebak’s website.
Just note – and their website states this explicitly – that the Vollebak Garbage Sweater will not be bulletproof. It’s only made with 30 percent para-aramid that’s blended with meta-aramid – you’d need layers and layers of the stuff, interwoven, before you can be safe heading into a warzone with your Vollebak.
This isn’t the first time the company’s worked with trash specifically. They’ve also got a watch made out of garbage, cobbled together from the world’s ever-growing pile of electronic waste.
The Garbage Sweater will be launched sometime late July, so head to Vollebak’s website for more on the Garbage Sweater.