Seaweed Fabric: Where the sea meets textile in a sustainable way

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Seaweed Fabric: Where the sea meets textile in a sustainable way

Daniel Tavares studied Fashion Management at the University of the Arts London and worked as an intern for Valentino in Italy. She later found her pas

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Daniel Tavares studied Fashion Management at the University of the Arts London and worked as an intern for Valentino in Italy. She later found her passion for working directly with the textile industry in Portugal. She came across Create Fashion Brand, a clothing manufacturer placing all their bets on the business’s sustainability, recycling, and zero waste policies. She found an exciting new development in seaweed fabric, so she interviewed Ana Barroso, production manager at CFB. 

Create Fashion Brand (CFB), a sustainable and ethical clothing manufacturer in Portugal, creates an intelligent way of developing a recycled fabric made out of Seaweed – a fiber created using naturally sourced Seaweed that can face up against sustainability and environmental challenges. 

Eco-friendly and repurposed/recycled fabrics have gained importance throughout the years since they give resource-saving and environmental protection during the life of the future garment made of that fabric. 

CFB’s Seaweed fabric is a Fabric created using naturally sourced Seaweed. This alternative plant-based yarn is afterward spun with other fibers to create a fabric with many potential benefits for the environment or the person who wears it. 

Located in the north of Portugal, next to the sea, Create Fashion Brand (CFB) clothing manufacturer came up with the idea of developing a fabric made of Seaweed that washes up on the Portuguese beaches. By doing that, the company seeks zero human intervention in the marine ecosystem and produces garments only with what nature provides by itself. 

CFB has been at the forefront of introducing sustainable technologies and producing green products for the last 15 years. With the implementation of this fabric, they seek to find a new purpose for Seaweeds that arrive at the beaches of the region; instead of having just agriculture purposes (natural fertilizers) used by locals, they can also be recycled/repurposed to provide comfort to the people who buy garments made from it.  

Where did the idea of developing a Seaweed fabric come from?

Ana: Since I can remember, here at CFB, we have all lived near the beach. Locals grew up seeing the sea bring tons of Seaweed to the shore several times a year and just being left there, waiting for someone to find a new purpose for that “gift” from nature. So one day, we just thought – why aren’t we doing it? As a clothing manufacturer, we should find a way to use this natural local component in our industry so it can be repurposed/recycled and provide a sustainable alternative to our current materials. And that’s when the idea came to life!

Many other companies already produce this type of fabric. What makes you different?

Ana: Unlikely other companies, our primary goal is not to harvest the raw material directly from the sea. Instead, we will work with what the sea brings to our beaches. By doing that, we are not interfering with the marine ecosystem and only working with what nature provides, or in this case, the sea and the tides. Furthermore, this fabric will not suffer any dyeing processes. After all, what is the purpose of us, as a clothing manufacturer, developing a sustainable/recycled fabric and saving considerable amounts of water if later we spend twice the amount of water just in the dyeing process? The fabric’s natural color will be the established color used to develop and produce future garments, even with any color or touch variations normal in a naturally sourced fabric.

So can this Seaweed fabric be considered a sustainable fabric?

Ana: Even though this is a sustainable and recycled fabric, as naturally sourced materials produce it, our focus on this fabric is more specifically the “zero waste” practice, in which we pick a component provided by nature and create something that can be useful, prioritizing a harvest with zero environmental interference from humans. We are reusing a material that nature “threw away” and giving it a new purpose. Hence it is also a repurposed fabric. By doing that, CFB combines the most eco-friendly ways of working to give the best product to our clients. 

How do you plan to collect the Seaweed from the beaches?

Ana: In addition to wanting this fabric’s development processes to be sustainable and recycled, we also want them to be ethical. Instead of using industrial means to collect Seaweed from our beaches, we thought of resorting to the local farmers who know the most about this matter. With the help of close relatives, the local farmers have always collected Seaweed from our beaches, for later, after going through the drying process, to be sold at local fairs for various purposes, primarily for fertilizing the fields. By giving these local workers this opportunity, we are keeping the region’s tradition alive as we seek to make history with the development of this new fabric, also providing employment opportunities to external people.

What are the steps for developing this fabric?

Ana: First, we must wait until the sea brings the Seaweed. After the Seaweed arrives at our beaches, it is collected in nets. After that, the Seaweed is dried naturally and coarsely chopped without using any chemical treatments, thereby retaining the plant’s natural components. The production process is energy efficient and environmentally friendly, uses renewable resources, and occurs in a closed loop. To become what is Seaweed fabric is a patented process and firmly embeds the Seaweed within recycled cotton fibers. 

How much fabric do you plan to produce in a year?

Ana: Obviously, it will depend on how much Seaweed the sea will bring to our beaches, but we estimated 1 ton per year – which means that if we consider a Jersey 180gsm T-shirt unisex regular fitting, it will result in about 1.3 million t-shirts all over the world. This number may seem a lot, but it is a small quantity compared to the 2 billion t-shirts sold yearly. It should be noted that this fabric will be limited to the amount of Seaweed that will reach our beaches. This factor sets us apart from other companies that also produce SeaCell fabric. 

Which are the benefits of making a fabric out of Seaweed?

Ana: Seaweed fabric has several benefits for the people who wear it. As a clothing manufacturer, our idea is that the careful drying and non-chemical processing of Seaweed allow the material to retain its nutrients. Therefore, iron, calcium, magnesium, Vitamin E, and plenty of antioxidants are locked inside the fibers. Wearers should benefit as the Seaweed makes contact with the skin, which is facilitated through moisture on the skin so that the nutrients are absorbed topically. This boost of Vitamin E should help nourish tired skin while the antioxidants fight free radicals and slow aging.

What will be the composition of this fabric?

Ana: Our goal was to develop a fabric only made of Seaweed, but unfortunately, after some tests, we concluded that it would be impossible. The fabric made only from Seaweed was too fragile, and after being turned into a t-shirt and a couple of washes later, it started to tear. So to keep the concept of sustainability connected to this fabric, came the idea of joining recycled cotton to make the fabric more resistant and with a soft touch. The final fabric will comprise only 40% recycled cotton and the other 60% our seaweeds. 

What is the expected reaction to this fabric when it comes to customers?

Ana: We hope for positive feedback and that this fabric awakens each customer with a feeling of change and the desire to do better. We developed this fabric, and even if it is not sold, we can say our part is done. We, as clothing manufacturers, are not responsible for what people end up buying or the decisions they make at the time of purchase, but we are responsible for what we put on the market for those people to buy. Ultimately, we feel fulfilled and accomplished in creating a natural alternative to be out in the market. 

Final Words: 

Create Fashion Brand (CFB) believes in striving to change society. Their globally recognized quality has been winning hearts for the last decades. With the development of this new fabric, CFB’s eco-friendly approach is growing quite rapidly. It will reduce carbon footprints and the industry’s environmental impact in the current decade. 

 

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