In Singapore, around 900 million kilograms of plastic waste is thrown away each year, and only four percent of it is recycled.
It’s not just plastic that is being thrown away at astronomical rates. Last year, more than 156,000 tonnes of textile and leather waste were thrown away by Singaporeans, of which only 8% of this was recycled.
Over the past few years, more and more conversations have sparked the question of whether more could be done to reduce Singaporeans’ reliance on single-use plastics and create a more sustainable nation overall.
There have also been debates surrounding the rise of fast fashion, a term used to describe the mass production of clothing at extremely low costs, which inevitably harms the environment.
Local brand Outfyt aims to solve both of these issues with its sustainable sportswear.
The brand incorporates durable materials such as ECONYLⓇ regenerated nylon with technology to make parts that can last 10 times longer than normal sportswear.
Vulcan Post spoke with Outfyt founder Stephanie Colhag Yeo MacGregor to find out how she launched a fully sustainable and stylish sportswear brand.
Create sportswear from fishing nets
Stephanie told the Vulcan Post that she always liked to wear sportswear both inside and outside the gym. At the time, the style she was looking for was hard to come by, which is why she decided to start her own brand to fill the void.
She then founded Outfyt in 2016, and it started as a secondary brand while working full time in the F&B industry.
Being half Swedish, the majority of Stéphanie’s pieces are influenced by Scandinavian design. They are marked by the emphasis on clean and simple lines, minimalism and functionality without sacrificing beauty.
Outfyt’s ethical and sustainable approach also stems from the Scandinavian culture of great respect for their environment and its inhabitants.
“We deeply value nature and spending time outdoors, so it was a very natural step for us to take this path of being a sustainable brand,” said Stephanie.
Currently, all Outfyt models are made from regenerated ECONYL® nylon. It is made by taking nylon waste – such as fishing nets from oceans and aquaculture, fabric scraps from factories and mats destined for landfill – and turning them into quality virgin nylon yarn. .
It’s exactly the same as new nylon and it can be recycled, recreated and remolded over and over again.
The regenerated ECONYL® nylon is then blended with LYCRA® XTRA LIFE ™ fiber, a unique technology that makes fashion more durable so it can fight fade and hold its shape wear after wear.
This fiber technology is engineered to provide a durable fit and resist degradation from chlorinated water, heat, and sunscreen for up to 10 times longer than unprotected fabrics.
The ECONYL® regeneration system begins by recovering waste, such as fishing nets, fabric scraps, carpets and industrial plastics from landfills and oceans around the world. This waste is then sorted and cleaned to recover as much nylon as possible.
Through a radical process of regeneration and purification, nylon waste is recycled back to its original purity. This means that ECONYL® regenerated nylon is exactly the same as virgin nylon.
ECONYL® regenerated nylon is processed into carpet yarn and textile yarn for the fashion and interior industries.
Outfyt believes circular design is the future and using ECONYL® is the first step on this journey.
Making a change to become sustainable takes a lot of research to ensure that new suppliers are ethical and not green. It took a year for Outfyt to go from being a conventional retailer to being a sustainability one. Being strategic with written plans and goals has helped us achieve our goals by making changes step by step.
Stéphanie Colhag Yeo MacGregor, founder of Outfyt
Along with the materials used in their sportswear, Outfyt’s packaging and manufacturing processes are also ethical and sustainable.
The brand’s fabric manufacturer is based in Italy and is committed to saving energy, reducing carbon dioxide emissions and recycling waste.
Thanks to their state-of-the-art smoke treatment plant, they avoided the release of 2,425,000 kg of carbon dioxide into the environment in 2019. This is equivalent to the amount of emissions produced by cars if they had to travel around the world 530 times.
In addition, 99% of the waste they produce is recycled and reused, so the equivalent of the content of 160 garbage trucks avoids ending up in landfill.
Additionally, at garment maker Outfyt in Indonesia, employees are paid well above the minimum wage monitored by the Indonesian Department of Labor with decent working hours.
Outfyt also ships its products in Hero Packaging eco-friendly packaging which is 100% home compostable, but also made from materials like cornstarch and cassava roots, allowing them to decompose without any waste.
More than just a sportswear brand
Currently Outfyt’s sports bras and crop tops with built-in sports bras are very popular and Stephanie is looking to expand the collections and launch new ones more frequently.
In addition to producing durable items, Stephanie also aims to create designs that flatter the female body and give the wearer a feeling of confidence while wearing them.
Additionally, when shopping from Outfyt, customers are not only buying from a sustainable ecosystem, but also giving back to the environment.
With every purchase made from Outfyt, one percent of the proceeds will be donated to Healthy Seas. This donation will be used to clean the seas, save marine life, prevent future pollution and recycle resources.
The nets collected by Healthy Seas divers and fishermen are fed into the ECONYL® regeneration system, where they are transformed into a new high-quality yarn that Outfyt uses for all of its collections.
However, despite how far the brand has come in terms of sustainability, Stéphanie shares that the journey has not been easy.
Building a lasting brand is difficult, especially for mainstream businesses trying to change course. This could mean having to build a whole new target market and change prices, suppliers and processes.
It can be very expensive or detract from the original business concept. Therefore, during a change to be sustainable, Stéphanie and her team had to conduct a lot of research to ensure that the new suppliers were ethical and not ecological.
Educating clients was also a challenge.
“One of the biggest challenges we face is competing with the fast fashion brands that produce really cheap athletic wear and explaining why fast fashion is bad,” Stephanie said.
In the long term, she hopes to be able to expand into new markets and even create Outfyt’s own sustainable materials. “We hope to be known as more than just a sportswear brand,” she added.
You can now buy Outfyt’s sustainable products on the VP label:
Featured Image Credit: Outfyt
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