A YOUNG IRISH entrepreneur has come up with an ingenious idea to create a clothing line from part-recycled materials… including brown beer bottles.
Peter Heron, originally from Dublin, has launched I Am Not A Virgin clothes in New York where he has lived for the past three and a half years since winning his green card.
The range – so-named because the materials used to make the clothes are from non-virgin sources, ie, recycled – includes jeans and t-shirts. Heron at first began making jeans from fabric scraps at manufacturing mills but changed tack when he met a senior designer from DKNY, who told him about a new fabric which is made from 75 per cent cotton and 25 per cent recycled synthetic material, which includes brown beer bottles. He told TheJournal.ie:
We will eventually have different lines of jeans made from green soda bottles, blue water bottles and my original idea of using fabric scraps collected at the manufacturing mills.
We’re also making t-shirts that are made with recycled food trays, clear water bottles, discarded x-ray film and, in the future, empty yoghurt cartons.
He also explained how the process works:
- “So first, the bottles (all colours) are separated using a machine that has optical sensors. Arms kick out certain colours into their respective bins. Once separated, the entire bottle (including paper and cap) is grinded into small chips. Then they are placed in water. All paper and caps will float to the top and the usable plastic will not. This would be what would be used for the colour. Next, the useable chips are ground down even further to a fine particle. This particle is the same compound found in polyester. The particle is melted and squeezed through a high-pressured nozzle, which then gets cooled to create sliver. In turn, the sliver is turned into the yarn.” (A sliver is a continuous strand of loose material, ready for twisting into yarn).
On IAmNotAVirgin.com, Heron writes that he also wanted to design something that he and his friends would wear. Heron previously worked in advertising, starting as a junior art director in Dublin and working his way up to creative director roles in New York. However, he told TheJournal.ie that he had always leaned towards creative work:
I’ve co-directed a music video, taught a concepting class to Masters Students here in NYC at Miami Ad School and have always been involved in friend’s creative projects.
The range has had input from pattern-makers and cutters from Marc Jacobs and Ralph Lauren, says Heron. Now comes the harder bit – getting it off the ground financially. To this end, Heron has put a deal together for people willing to leave a donation on the micro-finance site Kickstarter.com or pre-order items from the range. “Kickstarter is about a community coming together and believing in your brand,” he said.
You can have a look at the prototypes and Heron’s offer on the Kickstarter site for the next 22 days. Heron’s also making use of social media to spread the word, through a Pinterest site, Twitter and Facebook page.