In With The Old, Outcome Is New

In With The Old, Outcome Is New

By Haven Hathaway

Stella McCartney is one name we always enjoy hearing about in fashion news. As an active environmentalist, the British designer has been pushing her luxury brand towards circularity and being fully transparent with its impact on the environment.

The designer has been at the forefront of the sustainability conversation and has become well- known across the industry for being both a good citizen and businesswoman. In the summer of 2022, we highlighted on Tulerie Talks, her start of the mushroom movement with Bolt Threads, where she debuted her first luxury handbag made from mushroom leather. After another year of building a more sustainable fashion industry, McCartney is back with another collaboration to
create recyclable resources from polyester and nylon textile waste.

McCartney has partnered with recycling startup Protein Evolution Inc (PEI) on a new project that will work on one of the fashion industrys most significant issues, transforming nylon and polyester waste into “good-as-new” textiles.

This has been a complex challenge to overcome by the fashion industry because plastic-based fabrics degrade and are hard to reuse. However, with the help of PEI’s enzyme-based technology, where the waste will be recycled in a low-emission process, they will be able to create good-as-new plastic bottles, textiles, and other renewable plastic products.

Vogue Magazine highlighted that “PEI, which was founded in 2021, uses AI and synthetic biology to engineer enzymes, which are used to break down textiles and plastic into their basic chemical building blocks so they can be used to make new materials, theoretically allowing the resources to become infinitely reusable.”

Found on Fashion United, Scott Stankey, co-founder and chief technology officer at PEI, said, “This collaboration will ultimately demonstrate for the first time how complex fabric types, such as nylon and polyester blends, can be fully re-used to make new plastic material in a low-energy, cost-effective way.”

McCartney invested in PEI early on and advocated for the company and their technology. PEI has been fundraising for its research and development through the partnership with McCartney, the Collaborative Fund’s climate-focused Collab SOS, and other funding organizations. They have raised more than 20 million US dollars to work towards their goal of creating this new sustainable and circular era of plastic.

A few concerns have been raised around microplastics and the technologies inability to break down chemicals; however, PEI has spoken out about its plans to solve these issues and stated that as the technology continues to develop, it will be able to convert the chemicals into “safe waste.” They also confirmed that their technology does not release microplastics because the materials not dissolved during the technological process are collected for reprocessing or disposal.

McCartney said, “The dreadful amount of fast fashion manufactured that ends up in landfills is absolutely astonishing, both in terms of the natural resources consumed and the sheer amount squandered. Circular and regenerative solutions provide an upbeat view of the future of fashion, and we must take action now to safeguard our world for future generations.”

McCartney is yet again taking the much-needed steps toward a more sustainable fashion future. There was doubt that once her mushroom handbag walked the runway at Paris Fashion Week that the designer was on her way to making history.
2023 is looking like a positive year for McCartney and PEI’s collaboration. As a sustainability advocate, I am looking forward to following the story of the research and development while also choosing to be more conscious of my plastic footprint.

-As always, elevate your wardrobe with respected fashion and embrace the shift in style