Last year, HowBigIsYourEco revealed that multi-tasking pop culturalist Pharrell Williams was the proud new co-owner of a sustainable textile business, Return Textiles. The singer/producer/fashion designer showcased the company’s handiwork in a collaboration with Italian label Moncler created using the firm’s patented Bionic Yarn—a fibre made from recycled PET bottles. The move saw Pharrell score in the 2011 HowBigIsYourEco Awards.
Bionic Yarn has been used by Topshop, Gap and Timberland—now Kiehl’s is the latest convert. In a deliciously clever recycling campaign, the skincare company takes used bottles from customers, turns them into Bionic Yarn and returns them to stores in the form of staff uniforms and a limited edition tote designed by Mr Williams. HowBigIsYourEco asked the man himself about life as an eco warrior…
What’s Bionic Yarn like, exactly—can you liken it to another textile?
No, it’s like no other because it can take the shape of almost anything—cotton, denim, nylon, etc.
So does that mean it has applications outside fashion?
Yup! Furniture, luggage and one of my personal favorites, art canvas, the applications are unlimited.
Nice job on the Kiehl’s bag (below), talk us through the design…
The concept for the design was based on the idea behind recycling Kiehl’s plastic bottles to make fabric. We felt that using the bottle shape was important and the spiral design with the bottle sizes decreasing points towards our goal of recycling as many bottles as possible to decrease the impact of PET on our environment.
Have you always had an interest in sustainability or is this a new thing?
I have always been fascinated and done my small efforts to help the movement but now, yes, I’m hooked. I really want to make an impact.
Does Return Textiles have any other tricks up its sleeve?
Yes, for sure! Return Textiles is on a mission to be the sustainable solution for all material needs. Our patented Bionic Yarn is just the beginning. The future is bright, our next component product to hit the market is Return Textiles Eco-Resin, for injection mould products [like sunglasses and cell phones], made from recycled plastic bottles.
I guess all your future design collaborations will need to have a sustainable angle…
I don’t think there’s an option.
Do you now insist on being referred to as the Bionic Man?
Now that sounds crazy…
The limited edition Kiehl’s-Pharrell Williams tote, Bionic Yarn uniforms and recycling program debut in Kiehl’s stores internationally from today. Call 02 9931 8888 for Australian stores or visit Kiehl’s online for international stockists.
MAIN PHOTO: Jam Sutton
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