- Sustainable textile tech brand Repreve introduced a filament yarn called Recomfort, which is made from recycled plastic bottles, on Wednesday, per a release sent to Fashion Dive.
- The new fiber is designed to feel like traditional cotton, acrylic, rayon and other spun yarns, and the company said it is made to be both pill-resistant and soft to the touch.
- Repreve is a division of Unifi, Inc., a fiber manufacturer that turns post-consumer plastic bottles and waste textiles into filament and spun yarns, staple fibers and other materials that are then used to manufacture clothing for apparel brands including Patagonia, Quiksilver, Guess and Speedo.
Repreve, Unifi’s flagship brand, represents 30% of Unifi’s net sales, and the division has seen a drop in its consolidated net sales over the past year, according to the company’s annual report. In fiscal 2023, Repreve fiber sales totaled $186,161, down from $293,080 the previous year, which the company stated “was driven primarily by weak global demand and lower sales volume for our Asia Segment.” In addition, Unifi said in its report that competition “from unbranded recycled yarns has recently increased, and could drive market share losses” for Repreve.
However, the company is committed to expanding the Repreve brand, per the annual report, and the introduction of its Recomfort fiber should help push that agenda forward.
“What makes this [Recomfort] technology special is that it is an engineered yarn that has the unique characteristics of spun yarns but delivers on the performance of filament yarn technologies,” Meredith Boyd, executive vice president and chief product officer at Unifi Manufacturing, makers of Repreve, said in an email to Fashion Dive.
The process of converting plastic bottles into usable fashion fibers is a multi-step process that eliminates the need for virgin raw materials and instead uses waste materials, post-consumer plastics and textile and yarn waste, according to Boyd. She said the process negates the need to use new petroleum, and emits fewer greenhouse gasses and conserves water and energy. The company says it has already recycled over 40 billion plastic bottles through its manufacturing process.
Durability of the new Recomfort yarns will vary depending on a variety of factors, said Boyd, who added that the longevity of a product is dependent on article, fabric and yarn construction as well as consumer use.
Polyester is the most common synthetic fiber found in clothing, making up 52% of all fiber production, per a report from business networking firm Common Objective.
Fossil-fuel-derived materials make up the majority of fabric used in clothing — about 65 percent in 2021, according to a report by the global nonprofit Textile Exchange, which works to help brands and companies identify and adopt materials that are better for the environment and human and animal welfare.