Patagonia, fibers, textiles, materials, inovation,

Patagonia is speeding up its uptake of innovative fibers.

On Monday, the outdoor apparel brand revealed its multiyear deal with Infinited Fiber Company, the Finnish producer of the Infinna fiber. The deal guarantees Patagonia access to the limited-supply fiber over the coming years but is not exclusive to the brand.

The Infinna fiber transforms 100 percent textile waste into a new fiber with “the look and feel of cotton,” separating cellulosic material (worn-out clothes) from non-cellulosic material (polyester, dyes, etc.) at the molecular level.

Infinna is biodegradable in soil and clothes made with it can be recycled again in the same process together with other textile waste.

Calling circularity a marathon and not a sprint, Patagonia’s lead material developer Ciara Cates said in a statement that “by partnering with companies like Infinited Fiber Company we are able to build a circularity partnership that not only recycles the products of the past but builds a circularity plan for the products of the future.”

Research shows that new material innovation is on the priority list for executives. Textile Exchange estimated that the global textile fiber market will grow 30 percent, from 111 million metric tons in 2019 to 146 million metric tons by 2030.

In its long-term vision for circularity in materials, Patagonia has already ventured into recycled fishing nets, as well as regenerative agriculture. Patagonia has yet to reveal details for its plans or scope of the deal but both companies expressed excitement about the upcoming collaboration.

Back in April, Infinited Fiber Company unveiled plans to build a flagship factory in Finland with annual production capacity of 30,000 metric tons (roughly 100 million T-shirts made with 100 percent Infinna) once open in 2024. As with material innovators like Bolt Threads, which formed a consortium with Kering and others to drive uptake, the company is quietly signing on brand partners and anticipates selling out the output for several years.

Calling Patagonia an important customer, Infinited Fiber Company’s key account director Kirsi Terho said, “We want our regenerated textile fiber to be widely available in the future and synonymous with circular textiles…To secure the future supply of Infinna for the world’s fashion giants, and to make our circular textile fiber mainstream and accessible to all, our flagship factory alone is not enough.”

Going forward, securing additional producers by way of technology licensing will be “at the heart of our business,” according to Terho.

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