The creation of a T-shirt in the circular economy


Anatomy of a sports t-shirt

If you've never looked at the label on one of your sports t-shirts, now is the time to take a look.

This essential outfit for any sportsman is available in all shapes and colors but you will quickly realize that the majority of them have one thing in common: they are made up of polyester , polyamide or other synthetic materials. Unlike natural materials like cotton, these synthetic fabrics are particularly resistant to friction and porous which allows them to be breathable and therefore dry quickly.

Attributes which make polyamide the preferred fabric when making technical clothing because its resistance is perfectly suited to athletes of all levels. Plus it doesn't retain odors!

By looking for a sports t-shirt made from recycled materials, we arrived at a alarming observation : the majority of clothing is produced on the other side of the planet. Worse still, it is complicated to know the origin and exact journey of a garment from the source of the raw material. Let’s take the example of our cotton again. Even if the plant was produced in an organic farming framework according to criteria of respect for the soil, it is difficult to know where it comes from and the total distance traveled to you, especially when it comes to cotton that is not organic. However, this notion of traceability is an essential element in the impact of a product on the environment.

A challenge lies before us, to develop the first technical t-shirt in circular economy . As athletes, the answer was obvious: Challenge accepted!

Objective: to develop a t-shirt that truly respects the planet

A team challenge launched to Sylvanie, Bella, Solène and Lilas to create a t-shirt in circular economy . A subject that fascinates the entire team but does not yet exist in the sector of sportswear .

The circular economy according to Circle

What if man had exploited enough resources? What if we only used what we have already extracted from planet Earth? What if Apple collected all its old smartphones to create the new generation (900 million iPhones worldwide since 2007) ? The industrial revolution brought us the linear economy - that which consists of extracting, producing, throwing away. But the planet is a finite world where matter naturally changes form. The circular economy reproduces what nature has created: using a material, transforming it, giving it new life. It is the very principle of Mother Nature to know how to rebuild herself from what she has created in an endless circle.

Our way of doing things is based on 3 essential pillars: preserving our resources (and no longer contributing to oil drilling), not recreating waste and using as little energy as possible during the processing stages.

We could talk about it for hours. If you want to know more, you can satisfy your curiosity just here .

It is based on all this knowledge that we put on the table a Specifications very strict respecting both our ethical charter and the performance constraints which will allow us to create the most responsible possible. A t-shirt that fits the essential, who asked us to focus on the essential features that will make the difference.

Our challenge became clear in the minds of the entire team: create a t-shirt from recycled materials which does not compromise the quality of a technical garment, which is recyclable and which uses as little energy as possible throughout the value chain (raw materials, processing, dyeing, weaving, assembly, travel, product use, collection, recycling). All this to guarantee you a t-shirt quality which accompanies you throughout your life as an athlete without ever tiring.

We had 4 main objectives to produce our t-shirt in a way reasoned :

  • Use untapped resources with a fabric whose composition contains a maximum of recycled waste
  • Find raw materials 100% European to minimize our carbon footprint
  • Produce locally in Portugal and in a way ethics to respect our social criteria
  • Co-design this collection with a collective of committed sportsmen and women to be as close as possible to your needs. No matter your practice or your level.

Talking about the project around us raised a new challenge: we must make our evidence among athletes. Demonstrating that a product made from recycled waste can be just as qualitative as a non-recycled product will be essential. This is why we paid great attention to choosing soft, pleasant to the touch, resistant and technical materials, for a second skin effect that you will never want to take off.

As a result, we developed a t-shirt in unisex cut from XS to XL, suitable for multi-sport practice (yoga, pilates, running, training) and perfect for your daily life. A compendium of innovations that does good for the planet!

Long life for recycled materials

We are very proud to tell you that our t-shirt is 100% made from recycled materials.
All our raw materials and fabrics come exclusively from Europe. Your t-shirt only covers 3,700 km to reach you, a real personal best. Our transformation processes used are mechanical and non-chemical, which means that we do not use any products that are harmful to the environment and to you.

It is made up of 3 different fabrics:

  • 49% recycled polyester from Italy from plastic bottles and nylon waste. The bottle is crushed, the material obtained is transformed into granules which are then woven into thread. An innovative process that guarantees us quality fibers.
  • 43% recycled polyamide from Italy, made from nylon waste from production scraps. This innovative fabric required 90% less water consumption than a classic polyamide fabric.
  • 8% recycled elastane from Germany made from nylon waste from production scraps. A process which allows more than 90% of the yarn to be recovered during spinning, a great way to reduce waste on production lines.

These 3 fabrics do not make up our t-shirt by chance. In addition to their technical characteristics, they also tick many boxes in our specifications environmental , like their recycling percentages, or certified dyeing without harmful chemicals and certifications like Oeko Tex.

It took us a lot of research to find a balanced mix that allowed a adaptable cut for sports and lifestyle use. Assembling all these recycled fibers together added design complexity to our teams because our final material more stretch that traditional non-technical fibers, such as cotton, do not react in the same way. We had, for example, to remove this haberdashery step to be able to recycle our t-shirt more easily and make a technical model with a pleasant feel. The slightest modification of the boss could compromise the quality of the garment, which pushed us to produce several waves of prototypes to find the perfect fit.

The new essential for your wardrobe

Behind this t-shirt hides meticulous tailoring work and choices of fabrics which guarantee you - in addition to their respect for the environment - clothes efficient who keep up the pace.

Thanks to these 3 types of fabrics our clothes are both light And breathable for a super comfortable second skin effect.
They are ideal for sports because they:

  • dry quickly - no more sweating problems
  • resist friction - you can do as many downward facing dogs as you want
  • have good odor control thanks to good quality threads who don't stink - your favorite deodorant can't do better.

Since the beginning of our adventure, we have paid particular attention to traceability of our products. Thanks to QR code at the collar, you will have access to the identity card of your t-shirt and it will no longer hold any secrets for you. An innovation that allows us to improve the comfort of our clothing because the QR code dethrones the classic labels which scratch and end up cut up in the trash.

Style-wise, we looked for a color that can be worn easily, that doesn't go out of style and that highlights all body types so that you don't get tired of it. With the heather gray , we symbolically present eco-design as an association of solutions like the jumble of fibers that makes up your t-shirt. A lovely story that concludes our entire approach.

Ready, Set ? Test it!

An important criterion of reasoned production is to offer a product that athletes really have need . To be sure that our product meets this challenge, we designed our t-shirt thanks to the feedback and desires collected from our community of more than 400 athletes.

Based on their responses, we designed our first prototypes in less than 3 months, focusing on the essentials.

A questionnaire that taught us a lot about your sporting habits. We discovered that:

  • 82% have a dedicated outfit for each of their sporting activities - style has its place in the athlete's wardrobe
  • 78% would like clothes that let them move more freely - goodbye to skimpy clothes
  • 64% consider that the t-shirt is an essential for an ideal outfit

Once the first prototypes were received, we moved on to fittings and confronted it with our community. We originally designed this t-shirt in two different models: a straight cut for men and a fitted cut for women. A choice that quickly evolved into a unisex cut following numerous feedback from women who said they preferred the straight cut of men in order to play with sizes and styles.

Everyone fell under the spell of its straight cut which brings comfort and allows you to feel free in movement. A refined style which also seduces with its round collar which does not strangle the neck and provides more resistance than a V-neck.

Finally arrives the long-awaited phase of product testing. We have brought together different profiles of athletes: yoga, running, pilates, HIIT training to be certain that our t-shirt resists all practices. A very interesting moment which allowed us to move quickly in improving this t-shirt and to see it in movement on different templates. These tests allowed us to confirm the quality of the fabric and its ability to dry quickly.

Our yogi ambassadors are fans of the size M which allows them to tie in lots of ways the t-shirt, so that it does not slip during downward facing dog.

Responsible Athlete Style Guide

We vary the styles easily whether we are a man or a woman.

For gentlemen, we rely on a classic and effective ensemble. On the sports side we associate it with our Absolute shorts with a straight cut and a cap for a comfortable casual look. In the street we wear navy blue chino pants and white sneakers.

Ladies, let your imagination run wild and wear the t-shirt with different pieces. During training we pair it with a leggings or a cyclist for a feminine and sporty style. On a daily basis, it goes well with black slim jeans, boots and a very long cardigan during the winter, and simply with shorts or boyfriend jeans and sneakers during the summer. Our advice? We choose it in M ​​for a very modern loose effect and we don't hesitate to tie it at the stomach.

Back to blog

Leave a comment