Fashion 4.0, No. 6: Materials That Matter: Ocean Plastic Insulation & Cactus Leather

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The most exciting ideas are often born out of partnerships. Parley for the Oceans, the organization dedicated to preserving the oceans and eliminating plastic from the planet, has linked with brands such as Adidas, AmEx, S’Well and Corona to achieve its mission. Its latest partnership with PrimaLoft, an industry leader in advanced materials technology, will transform marine plastic debris into high-performance insulation products. PrimaLoft will be the first insulation provider in the textile industry to partner with Parley to develop products from plastics intercepted from remote islands, beaches and coastal communities.

PrimaLoft high-performance textile insulation

Globally, eight million tons of plastic waste ends up in our waterways and oceans every year, affecting marine animals, coastal communities and ecosystems. Parley and PrimaLoft both recognize the severity of the health and economic impacts plastic has on our oceans.

“Using upcycled marine plastic waste to create insulation that meets the high-performance standards customers expect from PrimaLoft presents a unique challenge,” said Mike Joyce, PrimaLoft President and CEO. “Sourcing high-quality raw materials is essential to the development of our insulations, and marine plastics are often lacking that level of quality.” Like most materials recycling, it’s a complex process, but Parley’s goal is also to make environmental protection fiscally lucrative for pacesetting major companies, which in turn has the power to move the needle for the industry as a whole.

PrimaLoft is also incorporating and implementing Parley’s AIR strategy, (which stands for Avoid, Intercept and Redesign) ultimately leading to a reduction of the company’s plastic footprint. The partnership will also extend to support other Parley initiatives and projects that involve preventing ocean pollution all over the world.

“The fashion industry has inherent advantages such as creativity, its most iconic trait. With the support of technologies and innovations, fashion has the talent, the networks, the financing and all the resources needed for transformation. The time has come to start doing things in a different way.” --  Adrián López Velarde, creator of Desserto Cactus Leather 

Vegan Cactus Leather from Mexico

In more exciting material innovation news, there’s now another alternative to leather. Dubbed Cactus Leather and trademarked as Desserto, the material made a splash at the International Leather Fair Lineapelle in Milan, Italy last month. Its developers, Mexican entrepreneurs Adrián López Velarde and Marte Cázarez, wanted to create a cruelty-free, sustainable leather alternative without any toxic chemicals, phthalates and PVC. They came up with the idea of using cactus, or nopal, as a raw material because it doesn’t need any water to grow and is abundant throughout Mexico. It took two years of research and development.

As Fashion United reports, Cactus Leather is organic, partially biodegradable and has the technical specifications required by the fashion, leather goods, furniture and automotive industries. Thanks to its durability, breathability and elasticity Desserto can replace animal leather and other synthetic materials that are not environmentally friendly.

“It’s the right time to offer this alternative, because not only are consumer industries interested in new materials like these, but also more and more end-consumers are demanding environmentally friendly materials,” said López Velarde. We couldn't agree more. Thank you for joining us at Variant Malibu as we embark on this exciting journey to create fashion and change. We can't wait to share more ideas and news with you soon. 

With Gratitude,

The Variant Team

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