Because Elis’s model is based on the circular economy, innovation is key to go even further and give its products a second life. One of its challenges is textile recycling, and workwear recycling more specifically.
In 2021, Elis launched its pilot project to make yarns and fabric from old garments. It has thus formed a partnership in France with fiber industrials to test the idea of recycling used garments into new garments.
Achieving this outcome has required a multi-actor chain. A lot of steps are needed to produce a new fabric that is of high enough quality to make new heavy-duty workwear. After the garments have been sorted at the plant, all the accessories need to be removed (buttons, zippers, reflective bands). Next up is the defibration step, in which a fiber is created from the fabric. A thread is produced from this fiber and is then used to weave the fabric. The last step is to make the new garment.
The project continued into 2022, with the launch of the first collection of aprons and the Group’s participation in the Circular Fashion Awards, where Elis took home the Espoir Trophy in the Large Company category.
Facing well-established brands on the market, Elis nevertheless won by presenting its “zero-waste” apron. This product can be manufactured without throwing away a single piece of fabric thanks to an exclusive pattern-making technique. The apron is also made out of 100% recycled fabric from the workwear-to-workwear project.
"We have worked in partnership with fiber industrials to test the idea of recycling used garments into new garments. During this recycling process, several important steps are required to produce a new fabric that is of high enough quality to make new heavy duty garments for the workplace."
Sophie Roussel – Manager of the workwear department