Very often you ask us: is it possible to stop producing virgin fibers forever and use only the upcycled ones?
Unfortunately the answer is no and in this article we explain why.
Upcycling textile fibers
Before tackling the issue of upcycling of textile fibers in more detail, it is important to make a small recap on a fundamental question: what does it mean to upcycle textile fibers?
Upcycling a fabric means giving new life to a waste, like a production waste, or to an old garment that we no longer use, which instead of being thrown away as general waste is brought back to the state of fiber, spun again and woven into a new garment of clothing.
This is how upcycled clothes are born, exactly like the ones we make at Rifò.
There are many materials that can be regenerated to create new garments, such as wool, cashmere, cotton and even jeans.
Wearing regenerated clothes offers numerous environmental and social benefits, such as:
- Reduction of water and waste consumption
- Maximization of waste reuse
- Environmental protection
- Improvement of social conditions of work
- Support to the local economy
But if the advantages are so obvious, why can’t upcycled fabrics be the only way? The problem is the number of times a fiber can be upcycled.
How many times can you upcycle a textile fiber?
Each time a fiber is upcycled, in fact, its length is shortened. For this reason, each material has a limited upcycling cycle. Wool and cashmere, for example, can be upcycled up to 4 times while the cotton cycle is even shorter and reaches up to 2 times.The fibers that can be upcycled whenever we want are the synthetic ones, such as nylon. Despite a potentially infinite possibility of recycling, after several cycles the technical characteristics of synthetic materials are likely to be depleted as well.
With this premise it is therefore easy to understand why it is not possible to completely stop producing virgin fibers. However, the regeneration of fabrics is possible to reduce waste to a minimum, giving new life to everything we no longer wear and producing quality clothing and a higher value than the original ones.
Why are regenerated garments more valuable than the originals?
The real problem that we usually find in big clothing chain, is that they are not designed to last over time. The quality of the clothes has in fact gone into the background since the so-called fast fashion.
Fashion that changes every season and that leads to the compulsive purchase of trendy clothes that will inevitably be thrown away a few months later.
Furthermore most of these clothes are not made of pure fibers (usually between 95 and 100% of a certain material), but are mixed compositions and this makes the upcycling process impossible.
If this is true of all materials, it is even more true of wool.
In fact, there is a very ancient textile tradition on the regeneration of wool, linked in particular to the city of Prato, also the birthplace of Rifò.
We are talking about the beautiful tradition of the cenciaiolis, a noble and refined craft that consisted in sorting the old rags by color and consistency. From those shreds of rags, the so-called cenci, a new material is then extracted which laid the foundations for the creation of a new fabric.
And this is why the new upcycled fabrics have a greater value than the originals: because they are created with the aim of lasting longer and rediscovering the most important value of fashion: the emotional one.
Upcycling of textile fibers unfortunately has a precise life cycle and at the moment it is not possible to stop producing completely virgin fibers.
By upcycling the fabrics, however, it is possible to double and more the life cycle of a fiber, delaying the moment in which it will be transformed into a general waste, with a great beneficial effects on the environment and society.
We at Rifò are firmly convinced that everyone in their own small way can really make a difference. For this we would like to know your opinion: do you already use upcyled clothing? How many of your garments have a label that allows their upcycling?
Let us know in the comments below.