Last season’s waste is today’s luxury; recycled cashmere
Warm, lightweight and delightfully soft on the skin, cashmere is the most luxurious material for knitted garments. But in an era where hyper consumption is coinciding with a looming global climate crisis the call for rethinking the design and production process is more urgent than ever. Resources need to be preserved, waste reduced, and mindsets changed to ensure the future of our planet.
London W11 sees recycled cashmere as one answer to preserving the availability of this precious material and reduces the waste produced during the current garment production process. Environmentally friendly and natural resource preservation makes recycled yarn the most sustainable cashmere yarn. The dry mechanical production process and the only partially dyed fibre save large amounts of water and use of chemicals in comparison to virgin fibre. We at London W11 have developed a yarn of recycled cashmere in collaboration with a mill in the outskirts of Florence, matching the high quality and durability of virgin cashmere fibre yarns it is working with since start.
This is how it works:
The material comes in as bales from post-industrial processes (samples, swatches, leftover yarns).
They vary in colour and need to be sorted in shades.
Manual sorting process into a large variety of shades.
The next part of the process is the “pulling” of the precious waste, a dry process. The pieces are pulled mechanically from the knitted structure, while making sure that the residual fibre length remains as long as possible.
This process is repeated several times to guarantee the highest quality possible, ensuring that all of the fabric has been separated back to fibre size. The broken-down fibre, however, will present in a variety of lengths and must be blended with virgin yarn to give it the strength to work into a new garment.
To ensure we
achieve the desired heirloom quality yarn we add up to 20% pure white virgin cashmere
To achieve the desired colour, as in haute cuisine, it takes a symphony if spices. The knowledge of the artisan blends a variety of different colours of the reclaimed cashmere fibre to get the perfect shade for the new yarn.
This effort avoids the heavy water consumption of the dying process and the use of chemicals and repurposes the already dyed fibre. The balance to achieve the desired shade is essential for the luxury quality we aim to achieve.
Part of the “symphony” is the blending of the origin fibre with the reclaimed fibre. The more balanced and well-studied, the higher the quality and durability the yarn will be.
After blending, the fibres are further mixed, disentangled and made into a carded web.
The web is passed repeatedly between a series of rotating toothed rollers before producing a web of fibres that is condensed to form a rope-like structure. At the end the web is separated into ca 1 cm wide strands and wound for the next step
The last steps of the process are the same as for virgin fibre: Spinning, twisting, rewinding on bigger bobbins and delivery to the knitter.
Although this is a labour-intensive process, every effort put into it is well worth it. It enables the industry to keep fibres at their highest value during use and re-enter the economy after previous use. Circular cashmere production lets nature regenerate and preserve natural fibre for future generations. Exciting new business- and job opportunities are a positive by-product of this new approach of the industry and makes this a future proof road to drive on for us at London W11 cashmere.
#circularfashion – #bethechange !