Everyone in fashion is vying to be “sustainable” — and now, they can be, thanks to democratized sustainability solutions that use waste to create requisite, customized products for brands.
For companies such as Pentatonic (a European-based, design-led circular technology brand), sustainability means “turning excess into efficiencies.” Pentatonic does just that by offering sustainability solutions for its clients that target waste reduction, localize production and generate positive environmental impacts by leveraging brands’ existing waste materials and developing them into sleek utilitarian products and retail tools.
The firm re-engineers its clients’ surplus synthetic waste through proprietary technologies — think of manufacturing waste, returns, supply chain hangers or poly bags — to develop a “bespoke supply chain” for brands wanting to recycle waste taken from multiple channels within their business, the company said. Pentatonic’s wholly unique approach to design has enabled the firm to transform plastic bottles into chairs and cracked smartphone screens into high-end glassware, all with a branded, custom-made twist. But its newly launched product, the Infinity Hanger, specifically targets sustainability solutions for fashion and retail. Described as a premium high-performance hanger made of 100 percent recycled PET from synthetic packaging and fabrics, the hanger allows brands to transform their own waste into a retail tool that’s immediately usable, and personalized to match a brand’s aesthetic.
The firm said that its target composition for the Infinity Hanger is 100 percent synthetic fabric waste, but that number depends on how much fabric the client can supply. If the fabric is lacking, clients can supplement the composition with additionally sourced recycled polyester, recycled PET, or even poly bag waste. Naturally, the hanger features a recycled aluminum hook, and as one might expect from a team of engineers and designers, the hanger is thoughtfully designed with beauty and function in mind.
Jamie Hall, chief marketing officer and cofounder of Pentatonic, told WWD, “The least sophisticated product in the fashion food chain, [the hanger], has now become the most technologically advanced, and there’s no disruption to the brand aesthetic. It’s completely enhancing, completely complementary, and it’s democratic. So, Gucci or Primark could make use of the model and the products.” Hall added, “Beautiful, high-performance products that drive scaled behavior change are our obsession. Sustainable methodologies alone will not change waste culture on an industrial scale. Superior performing products manufactured using sustainable methodologies will.”
And Pentatonic intends to continually release products made with the same capabilities by transforming the industry’s “surplus synthetic waste problems into multiple applications that would otherwise further exhaust our planet’s virgin resources to be applied for single use,” the company said, which presents a major opportunity for brands needing or wanting to pivot toward sustainability, as well as a chance for Pentatonic to address different material needs in the retail sector. Johann Boedecker, chief executive officer and cofounder of Pentatonic, said that the firm’s technologies “enable the diversion of problematic waste streams into product creation and so deliver significant P&L upside for our clients. We turn excess into efficiencies. The redirection of a company’s surplus materials into products and tools required elsewhere within its organization presents a giant and positive step forward for the industry as a whole.”
Much of what’s driving brands to seek sustainably made products is based on the consumer-led demand for sustainable solutions and transparency throughout the fashion industry. Hall told WWD, “[Brands are telling us] that the consumer wants more. The consumer wants and expects a certain type of standard from [the brand] in terms of the product that’s created. They want to know where it’s coming from, how it’s made and how it can be remade. What materials and toxicity are in it? Is it safe? What’s the labor involved, and what’s the very start of the supply chain? People care.”
And brands have changed, too, as becoming sustainable not only streamlines operations, but is also cost-effective, as Pentatonic noted that its products create a link between a company’s existing investments. Boedecker told WWD, “As soon as [becoming sustainable] falls into the category of driving efficiencies and expanding the market share, you get a whole different set of execution-oriented people and the attention of a crowd that is used to getting things done.”
Cara Smyth, vice president of Glasgow Caledonian New York College (GCNYC) and founding director of the GCU Fair Fashion Center, noted that brands should be keenly aware of the ways sustainability can be effective both short- and long-term. “[Pentatonic gives brands] the opportunity to say, ‘What are the current problems and materials that you have? You’ve got poly bags, plastic hangers, textile waste. What do you have? [Pentatonic] helps create immediate solutions, but longer term, they can help influence from the design phase on, so that raw materials become of greater value and drive profitability for the company.”
Hall added, “The way you really inspire and activate people is by making great product that performs better than other products that they might be competing with at a price that’s affordable. If you can have that formula, then you can do anything.”
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