This blog is becoming what I hoped would become, that is, among other things, a meeting point between designers and brands sharing the same green philosophy. So it happens that a vegan shoes designer like Paola Caracciolo, interviewed in September, introduced me to the Spanish eco-brand of clothing and accessories Ecoalf, which is founder and president Javier Goyeneche.
I don’t want to say too much about this brand, because it will be up to Javier to let us know his company and his very special mission.
Hi Javier, I have to admit that before Paola Caracciolo ‘nominated’ you, I did not know your brand, which has been a pleasant discovery. Would you like to tell, for me and for eco-à-porter readers, when and how were you born? Where does the desire to create an eco brand come from?
Ecoalf was born in 2009; the concept of the brand came after the birth of my son, Alfredo (the company is named after him), when I was reflecting upon the world we would leave to the next generation and my frustration with the excessive use of the world’s natural resources. The idea was to create a fashion brand that is truly sustainable; by integrating breakthrough technology we create clothing and accessories made entirely from recycled materials… without actually looking like it.
The goal was in fact to create the first generation of recycled products with the same quality, design and technical properties as the best non-recycled products to show that there is no need to use our world’s natural resources in careless way. We cannot live in this planet as if we had another one to go to when this one is ruined.
Ecoalf is based on three fundamental aspects: Innovation & Technology + Sustainability + Design. Technology and Research & Development are essential in a company like Ecoalf; at the moment the company has over 14 active alliances throughout the world (Portugal, Spain, Taiwan, Korea….) that allow to develop continually all necessary elements to manufacture with recycled materials. And the brand keeps investing in sophisticated recycling processes to remain market leaders.
This thing that the brand is named after your son is really nice:-)
In your company profile there are reported some ‘slogans’ or ‘statements’ that I think are one of the best ways to introduce your mission and priorities, for example the statement by Terry Swearingen ‘We are living on this planet as if we have another one to go to’. Instead we know well that there is no planet B, as you just said. What does Ecoalf do to live on this planet, which is the only one we have?
Well, this is exactly why Ecoalf was born, because I decided to act. We are not about story telling but about story doing, with our ‘Upcycling the Oceans’ project we are working with over 3,000 fishermen collecting the waste that is destroying our oceans and converting into high quality products.
We believe in fashion that makes a difference. Fashion is not just about looking good. It’s also about doing what is right and feeling good about it – in respect of people and the planet. We spend a lot of time giving talks in conferences, in schools, in our talks across the world to educate people about what’s going on and the need to act. This is something very important for us, to be able to raise awareness about the situation in our planet and oceans and how we need to re-think and do things differently because otherwise it doesn’t make sense in the long run. Hopefully, in a near future, our vision and efforts will encourage others to move in the same path, as more sustainable fashion labels will emerge resulting in a global compromise towards recycling and sustainability. Think micro and act macro.
We need a new generation of brands searching for new ways to improve the impact on the environment whilst creating a great product. Transparency and the future proof of products and brands are the luxury re-definition of our generation. Recently we have received the B Corp™ certification, as a result of Ecoalf’s compromise to the people and the planet.
Another of your slogan: ‘coffee is not only for drink, now you can wear it!’ Interesting! Could you tell me what is about?
Of course! It all starts with a cup of coffee. The coffee ground that are left over after being used to make coffee are collected from different restaurants and shops, the compounds are still humid so the first step, when taken to the recycling plant, is to dry the coffee grounds. Secondly it goes through a process during which 11% of oil is extracted. This is necessary in order to make the micro porous open, being able to bind with any different materials. Then the coffee ground is grinded to a size of nano-powder. This powder is then prepared in master batches to be mixed with either recycled polyester or recycled nylon polymers in order to create yarn. When blending it in the garments it gives great benefits such as: odor control, fast drying, uv protection.
It’s really great Javier! I know you have also a Manifesto: ‘Tras(h)umanity. What is about?
Well, its our Manifesto: by accepting the world, you can begin to change it. Only then, we can think of new ways to straighten out reality. Straighten in an intelligent and useful way. Tras(h)umanity is about acknowledging waste and is a paradoxical concept. Just like the 21st century. Just like you. It is vital that we put an end to the endless pollution of the environment. Ecoalf is not happy with this situation and wants to make a difference. New technologies allow us to do so by revolutionizing the concept of raw material.
Tras(h)umanity accepts that waste will always be a feature of our species. We are looking for a new generation of consumers with increased awareness and yet remain true to their aesthetic values. We create objects which make your life more enjoyable without further damaging our relationship with the environment. We do this by erasing part of our environmental footprint that stains the world. So Ecoalf wishes to share with you its passion for beautiful and useful products which clean up the world.
Before you talked about the ‘Upcycling the Oceans’ project. Do you want to say something more about it?
Ecoalf, through its foundation, has embarked upon its most ambitious project to date: Upcycling the Oceans, an unprecedented worldwide adventure that will help remove waste from the bottom of the oceans thanks to the support of the fishermen. Upcycling the Oceans project (UTO) collects the trash that is destroying our oceans and turns it into top quality yarn to produce fabrics and products. This revolutionary project started in the Mediterranean Coast of Levante (Spain) in 2015 and today we have over 3,000 fishermen, 547 fishing boats collecting over 250Tonnes of waste from the bottom of the ocean.
With the plastic bottles that we collect, we turn it into top quality yarn to develop our latest project ‘Ocean Waste Footwear’, a sneaker made with approximately five plastic bottles and a sole made of algae, following a zero waste philosophy in the development, design and production of this groundbreaking sneaker. In light of the success in Spain, we are now working with the government in Thailand to replicate UTO in five islands and transform that plastic into a spring/summer 2019 swimwear collection! In Thailand we have the support of the local fishermen, scuba divers, and beach volunteers who join beach clean ups.
‘Upcycling the Oceans’ aims to be replicated all over the world, helping to educate and raise awareness about the dramatic situation, at the moment we are focusing on the Mediterranean.
We are at the end of this interview and since this column is conceived in a way in which the interviewee indicates the next guest, who will be?
I ‘nominate’ Clare Press, Sustainability Editor-at-Large at Vogue Australia, she just wrote the book ‘Rise & Resist’.
Great Javier, thank you very much! I know Clare, I had the pleasure of having a few words with her about her text on oceans pollution published on #3 Fashion Revolution fanzine
So, to the next time with Mrs Press !!!