HIGH STREET FASHION
What links leading fashion chains Adidas, Victoria Secret, North Face, Timberland and American Eagle? I think you’re going to be surprised when you find out that it is coffee. Or more precisely ground coffee beans.
All of these leading manufacturers of clothes and shoes have in recent years sourced large portions of their product lines from a small Taiwanese company, you’ve probably never heard of Singtex. Why would these international companies rely on this one supplier so much? Simply because they are the world’s best at producing cloth derived from the stuff Starbucks and Costa Coffee throw away, the used coffee grounds!
Coffee is globally quite a wasteful product with only 0.2 percent of the plant being used to make a fresh cup of coffee. The remaining 99.8 percent is the waste and over the last decade or more innovators globally have been creating increasingly more audacious ways to use this natural product in constructive ways.
In 2005 Taiwanese Jason Chen was a textile maker working with traditional clothes and fabrics before he had the ‘lightbulb’ moment whilst drinking a coffee at a local Starbucks franchise. Use the grounds and make them into a fabric. Whilst the idea itself was spectacularly farsighted the technological leap to make it happen was almost insurmountable. Four years and a large sum of development cash from investors finally resulted in the first examples of a new material. The new material uses recycled PET plastic bottles that have been stripped back in order to introduce polyester into the coffee grounds which are then formed into yarns which can be woven into cloth.
Many people, at first, and perhaps justifiably questioned the need or the justification for the new material; that was until the benefits were highlighted ranging from improved waterproofing and enhanced anti odour properties. Indeed Timberland to this day, utilise coffee products in the insoles of their foot ware range.
The most staggering fact we discovered about this amazing product, however, is that using Singtex to make a T-shirt it needs material from five recycled plastic bottles and three cups of coffee grounds!