Process: Washing the embroidered fleece
How can unusable wasted textiles like denim be transformed into new recycled textiles that decompose and recompose within continuous circular material streams?
To begin the process, discarded jeans – serving as a raw material – are cut into small fibres and then bonded to form a fleece. During the course of the project, two distinct routes have been explored, each with their own unique qualities: an industrially produced recycled jeans fibre non-woven fabric, and a self-produced, “crafted” non-woven fabric. The industrially produced non-woven shows a homogenous, uniform surface, whereas the crafted fleece appears irregular, rough and textured, giving room for individual expression.
The New Blue concept offers a novel way to form defined areas on a fabric roll. Digitally-aided industrial embroidery is applied to the fleece not only to create a stable fabric but also to generate the cut-patterns needed for the final piece of clothing, thus rationalising the entire production process from fibres to garment.
The embroidered areas of the non-woven cloth remain intact when exposed to water, whereas the non-embroidered parts of the fleece disintegrate. These loose denim fibres can be reused as raw material, while the embroidered parts remain stable and can be sewn together without further cutting, establishing a circular and zero waste production method.
The New Blue project stems from a desire to rethink the notion of recycled materials and create a truly circular product lifecycle.
With the rise of fast fashion, denim has transitioned from a hardwearing, durable workwear fabric into a staple of the contemporary wardrobe and we are left with vast streams of waste without the infrastructure to absorb them.
A worn-out pair of jeans is treated as a waste product, from which the useful materials can be extracted and then repurposed as, for example, building insulation. This project seeks to change this methodology by instead finding a way of reincarnating the jeans as a renewed version of themselves.
New Blue promotes a different material cycle, which manifests itself in the novel production sequences as well as its final outcome. The traditional end product is now envisaged as one stage within a continuous, circular succession of decomposing and recomposing.
By adopting this approach, the aesthetic of the jeans - from the texture of the reborn denim, and the design of the overstitching to the cut of the pattern - can also evolve with time, responding to trends and ensuring the reincarnated product is always relevant and personal.