Clarus fabric from yarn that is 50% recycled and 50% organic virgin cotton. Photo courtesy of Natural Fiber Welding.
Ralph Lauren Corporation has declared a minority investment in Natural Fibers, a sustainable material science start-up that aims to revolutionize the reuse of natural fibers, such as cotton waste, into patented, high-performance materials. “Ralph Lauren Corporation has evolved and progressed our business for more than 50 years because they constantly push ourselves to deliberate about how to approach challenges. Now a days, sustainability is an area where this is especially important, and investing with partners to scale innovative solutions is an important part of our sustainability strategy. Their technology has the power to not only advance our work at Ralph Lauren, but effect positive transformation across the entire industry.
Recycled cotton is habitually unsuitable for use in new cotton apparel due to the short fibers created during recycling. Founded in 2015, NFW has solved this challenge with an innovative process that welds short fibers into longer fibers to create high-performance cotton yarns which can incorporate cotton and other plant-based waste fibers. This patented process transforms these materials in ways that were never possible before, Ralph Lauren says, creating an opportunity to reuse post-consumer cotton waste and impart performance characteristics into the fiber. The resulting up cycled material beats synthetic fabrics while still retaining the comfortable feel of cotton, the company adds.
Ralph Lauren is looking to open out the use of recycled post-consumer cotton, helping to advance the company’s progress toward sourcing 100% of its key materials, including cotton, by 2025 and integrating zero-waste principles across its business. Over time, the partnership will enable Ralph Lauren to replace and reduce its reliance on non-biodegradable synthetics, such as polyester and nylon, while scaling the use of more sustainable and up cycled materials, the company concludes.