Meet the startups leading the way in circular design and sustainable innovation

European startups using materials science and circularity principles to transform the fashion industry one item at a time
Meet the startups leading the way in circular design and sustainable innovation

I’ve been writing about fashion tech for a while. Originally my interest was in IoT-embedded wearables, but the reality is most wearable clothing languishes in museums and catwalks, with commercialisation a big fat failure. 

But today, I’m hugely interested in startups approaching fashion from a sustainability perspective, embodying principles like materials innovation, repairability and circular design. Here are some cool companies to check out and hopefully patronise:

INDUO (France/UK)

INDUO specialises in textile innovation. It developed stain and perspiration-resistant fabric (with 6 patents filed). 

More than 50% of the total ecological impact of a shirt lies in the way it is cared for. INDUO® fabrics repel perspiration and associated bacteria, meaning that clothing can be washed less frequently, saving water and energy and worn for an extended period of time.

The fabric is used by fashion brands all over the world. 

HNST Jeans (Belgium)

Founded in 2018, HNST turns your old jeans into something new, with a radically lower environmental footprint than buying another pair.

An average 1478 litres of water is used for a traditionally produced pair of jeans. HNST uses only 138 litres and thus saves 91% and  47% less CO2.

Its jeans are made out of 62% cotton, 18% organic cotton, 20% Tencel and can be recycled again. HNST Jeans are stocked globally. 

Sneaker Rescue (Germany)

I’m sure I’m not the only person reading who lives in sneakers. But they wear out pretty fast. Sneaker Rescue can bring your sneakers back to life — without even visiting a repair store. 

You Whatsapp or email the company photos to determine the level of repair possible and the cost. Then send you sneakers in a couple of weeks, and they return them like new. Heck, yes. 

Infinite Athletic (Spain)

Let’s start with the most interesting part of this company. It turns old tennis racket strings into clothing. 

In true circularity, it recycles its own garments together with discarded racket strings in a process through which it creates a virgin polymer.

Following two years of R&D, the Barcelona company makes clothing with fabric resistant to sweat, abrasions, and wear and tear. This is sports clothing that will last a lifetime.

Repair Rebels (Germany)

Finding someone that can fix your clothing, shoes or leather bag is no easy task unless you want to wander into some dark, dingy shopping mall where the only other tenants are a key cutter and a children’s clothing store.

Repair Rebels has got you covered with a platform where technology meets traditional craftspeople — tailors, cobblers, and leather workers, who, up until now, usually have no digital presence. 

By digitising the local crafts industry, it offers a real alternative to fast fashion, saving you money and saving local jobs, keeping crafts alive and paying skilled workers for their worth. 

Book and pay for your repair. Your items are picked up locally in Dusseldorf (or you can post from elsewhere) and returned to you. 

Resortecs (Belgium)

Resortecs has developed an innovative solution that helps recycle garments more effectively.

Stitched clothing typically needs to be unpicked before recycling, a process which is time-consuming and costly. Resorts has designed a new type of thread that makes the disassembly process easier. 

Its threads are available for different melting points (150°C, 170°C and 200°C) and are dissolved using a commercial oven. This allows up to 500 kg of garments (equivalent to more than 1000 pairs of jeans) to be dismantled simultaneously.

COSH (Belgium)

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention COSH, a search engine platform that helps you to find nearby sustainable fashion brands.

The platform screens and analyses brands’ supply chains on sustainability and circular economy. making it possible to access local and conscious shopping choices.

Check it out to find sustainable brands near you. 

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