T-shirt project puts spotlight on future of fashion

By Phil Crawford

A new T-shirt produced in Aotearoa offers a fresh take on ‘what goes around comes around’ in fashion.

Globally, it’s estimated that up to 87% of textiles go into landfill, or are incinerated, when most of those materials could be reused. Here, in Aotearoa, more than 220,800 tons of fibre, fabric & textiles are sent to landfill every year, according to a report by The Formary.

This month Mindful Fashion, a collective of New Zealand designers, textile and trim suppliers, and manufacturers, launched the Full Circle T-Shirt project. It’s designed to highlight solutions to sustainability challenges within the fashion industry.

“The story behind these T-shirts demonstrates what it truly means for a garment to be circular and responsibly made,” says Mindful Fashion’s Programme Director Jacinta FitzGerald.

Each T-shirt is made from organic cotton grown and produced in a fully certified supply chain. They are manufactured, printed and finished in New Zealand. When a T-shirt reaches the end of its useful life, it can be returned.

“We will complete the circle through a partnership with Little Yellow Bird, and recycle the T-shirts in a fibre to fibre process ready to be made into new fibre for a new garment.

“With an end of life solution in place, we hope to educate industry and consumers about the issue of textile waste, and how this can be addressed through the way products are designed and made.

“As an industry organisation, we are uniquely placed to bring the industry together in a pre-competitive way to take action on sustainability challenges, many of which are too large for any single business to tackle alone. Now we have started to see the results of this sort of collaboration, we are excited to see what else is possible that will contribute to a thriving future for New Zealand fashion and textiles.”

Designers Twenty Seven Names, Wynn Hamlyn and Kate Sylvester have each created an exclusive print for the project. The T-shirts are available for sale through Mindful Fashion New Zealand and the designers’ own websites.

All proceeds from the Full-Circle T-shirt go towards supporting sustainable fashion development for the New Zealand clothing and textile industry. Part of this will be funding workshops led by Mindful Fashion to provide the industry with tools to advance work on carbon reduction, low impact materials and social sustainability and to develop further circular initiatives. It will also enable the organisation to advance its goal to work with the government on pathways for skilled workforces.

Find out about other businesses in the clothing and textile industries that are offering solutions to New Zealand’s waste problem through product stewardship.

Photo: Full Circle T-shirt designers, from left, Wynn Hamlyn, Rachel Easting (Twenty-Seven Names) and Kate Sylvester.