August 9, 2020

Industrial Upcycling: How Patagonia cooperates with a small LA boutique workshop

Every year, 53 million metric tons of fiber are produced for clothing annually, but 73% of it ends up in a landfill. Only 13% is recycled.

From The California Business Journal Newswire.

World renowned outdoor clothing and gear producer Patagonia established its Worn Wear initiative in 2005. The environmentally-aware company aimed to counter landfill culture and promote re-use by repairing damaged clothing, reselling returned items in good condition, and recycling garments at the end of their lives.

They have now pushed it a step further.

If you open the “Worn Wear” page on Patagonia’s site, you will see a recrafted logo decorated by a pair of open scissors and the photo portrait of a young woman, who happens to be Lindsay Rose Medoff, owner and CEO of Suay, Los Angeles.

Lindsay Rose Medoff (middle), owner and CEO of Suay, Los Angeles.

Lindsay Rose Medoff (middle), owner and CEO of Suay, Los Angeles.

Medoff is “a woman who sees only potential in the things left behind,” a Patagonia spokesperson says, referring to Medoff as “a true Golden Nugget of creativity, corporate and social responsibility.”

Suay means “beauty” in Thai, in honor of Tina, Lindsay’s business partner of 15 years. Suay is a lovely artisanal sewing workshop, and with 30 employees, the company has a much wider vision of its mission.

“Suay is a movement,” Medoff says. “Cultivating upcycling as a priority will not only massively impact our planet, but our daily quality of life. Suay products are created from a minimum of 85% post-consumer waste. We produce a diverse range of ethically made and masterfully-crafted products.”

From clothes to quilts, cushions and other household textiles, the busy hands of Suay-ers turn tons of textiles, that would otherwise end up in a landfill, into lovely fashion.

When Patagonia met Medoff, “Recrafted” happened. Kourtney Morgan, a senior designer who created some of Patagonia’s most iconic gear, responded to the question: What to do with garments that can’t be repaired, resold, or recycled? “Worn Wear was already taking care of clothes that could be repaired, but a lot of material remains that is beyond that. So a crazy idea surfaced: what if we could wear our garbage,” she says.

“Lindsay and I have a passion for doing something that matters,” Morgan says.

Every year, 53 million metric tons of fiber are produced for clothing annually, but 73% of it ends up in a landfill, or even worse, incinerated. Shocking, isn’t it? Only 13% of this enormous mass of textiles is recycled.

Patagonia’s Worn Wear team sorts out damaged items at their warehouse by material and product type. Then they bale them up and send them to Suay. Here, the “garbage” is deconstructed and reconstructed into more than 10.000 unique items of clothes, mostly for its ReCrafted line.

The newest socially aware initiative of vulcanic,  Medoff is the production of protection face masks that are being donated to those who need them most. And it is not only about sewing:  Medoff teamed up with her best friend from high school, Chloe Schempf, another seamstress and former fashion designer, to research the best materials to filter microparticles. They discovered that blue shop towels are the best fit for the task and are now fundrasing on GoFundMe to finance clinical tests of their apparel.

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