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Recycled tights and textile waste: the new materials making an impact in design

Previously overlooked as a viable material for furniture, end-of-life fabrics are now being utilised in ingenious ways

swedish stocking sustainable table design made from recycled tights waste textiles
Swedish Stocking

It may be lagging behind single-use plastics in terms of public awareness, but textile waste is a major environmental concern.

The statistics are sobering – second to oil, the textile and clothing industry is the largest polluter in the world, and on average, consumers throw away over 30 kilograms of clothing and shoes per person annually. To make matters worse, only a quarter of the 95 percent of textiles that can be recycled actually are.

This critical situation is high on the agenda of these three innovators, who are reusing end-of-life textiles to keep them out of landfill.


Swedish Stockings

The sustainable hosiery brand has manufactured products from pre- and post-consumer nylon waste since 2013. Now the brand has gone a step further with a surprising new product – a series of tables made from customers’ old tights.

After learning that around two billion pairs of tights are worn once and then discarded every year, the brand took action by rewarding customers for sending back their used tights (from any label).

‘Hosiery is a petroleum product that will never degrade’

‘We got so many tights from people all over the world. At the time we didn't know what we were going to do with them, we just wanted to stop them ending up in landfill. Hosiery is a petroleum product that will never degrade, except for into smaller microplastics,’ explains founder and CEO Linn Frisinger.

swedish stocking's sustainable table design made from recycled tights
Swedish stockings

Experiments in grinding the tights down and mixing them with waste fibreglass from her father’s factory led to the idea of injection moulded furniture, which Frisinger developed with designer Gustaf Westman. The result is a collection of tables with unique surfaces that resemble polished stone. But Frisinger won’t stop there; ‘We’re looking into the possibility of making other objects – our mission is to change and influence the industry.’ swedishstockings.com


Really

Danish brand Really was one of the first to cotton on to the potential of upcycling end-of-life textiles.

Partly owned by fabric brand Kvadrat (whose factory offcuts also provide raw material), its endlessly reusable materials can be used for furniture and interiors on an industrial scale.

really solid textile board benches by max lamb made from waste textiles
Angela Moore

Its 'Solid Textile Board' made from cotton and wool has already been utilised by studios Front andRaw-Edges, plus designers such as Max Lamb, who created this bench (above) in a collaboration with the brand in 2017. reallycph.dk


Pressing Matters

The brainchild of Australian design initiative Supercyclers and sustainable homeware firm Seljak Brand, the Pressing Matters project’s debut product is a floor lounger that is composed of 100 per cent textile waste from used mattresses.

supercyclers x seljack brand pressing matters floor lounger is made from upcycled mattresses
Alice Wesley-Smith

A combination of synthetic and natural materials (which are too difficult to separate for recycling) are shredded and pressed into shape, resulting in a closed-loop product that can be recycled endlessly. seljakbrand.com.au; supercyclers.com

This article first appeared in ELLE Decoration August 2020

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