Zero waste shirts made from dormant stock can reduce the fashion industry’s environmental footprint

It was after seeing thousands of meters of fabric go up in smoke in South Africa that Valentine Robin decided to create Akho. The brand seeks to create timeless clothing made with natural materials – exclusively from dormant stocks – with no impact on the planet, and by drastically reducing waste that contributes to making fashion one of the most polluting industries in the world. .

The fashion industry must find ways to reinvent itself in order to reduce its environmental footprint. This has been done in recent months via second-hand resale devices, the use of fibers with little or no pollution, but also via recycling. It is in a way this last path that Valentine Robin decided to follow when creating Akho. The concept of the brand is based on the notion of circularity: to give a second life to the meters of fabric relegated to the reserves, even burned, because of defects, unsold, surplus production or cancellations of orders.

“Last year, I co-organized a world tour to meet committed entrepreneurs who are fighting for more responsible consumption in very different sectors and ecosystems. … In South Africa, I had the opportunity to visit a textile factory. The day before my visit, the workshop had seen a large order from France canceled and therefore ended up with hundreds and hundreds of freshly made fabric rolls on their hands. Due to lack of space and money, they were burning all this material in the back of their premises, causing an impressive black smoke, ”Valentine Robin told ETX Studio.

It was then that the young entrepreneur decided to found a brand with strong social and environmental commitments. “Seeing the disappointment of employees at the orderly destruction of work weeks was a real trigger. I wanted to get involved and invest in a circular and virtuous system that would put expertise, humanity and respect for the environment at the heart of its concerns “, continues the founder of Akho.

No new material

The Akho brand – which means “no new material” in Zulu, a nod to the country where the idea for the concept was born – and its shirts already seem to have attracted a large number of fans looking for a more responsible wardrobe. The Ulule campaign, which is about to end, is on track to reach 400% of its initial target, demonstrating real public interest in a more circular approach to fashion.

To limit its impact on the environment and reduce waste, Akho has chosen to use dormant stocks from major European houses or fabric production workshops, favoring noble, natural and chemical-free materials, such as linen and cotton. The manufacturing takes place in a family workshop located in the Porto region of Portugal.

No waste, upstream or downstream

Akho’s concept is based on zero waste, without creating any raw material. But the brand has chosen to go even further by offering its products in limited and numbered series, produced on demand, to once again avoid overproduction. It is an idea in total harmony with the initial approach, which is based on limiting waste. But it is also about offering clothes that last over time, from which it will be difficult to separate, unlike “disposable fashion” which precisely leads to this overproduction.

“It is very important for me to offer true companions for life, clothes that we love and keep, that we pass on and that we look at, years later, with my head full of memories. And to achieve this emotional feeling, it is important that the consumer feels that “THEIR” piece is unique, rare and precious. This is why I decided to produce only a small series of high quality timeless pieces, each [individually] numbered, to support this feeling of exclusivity and uniqueness, ”emphasizes Valentine Robin.

The first selection of shirts on offer, available for pre-order now, includes the “Phambi” linen shirt in royal blue, with 161 pieces available, the “Emva” shirt in heavy cotton, available in three colors – still in limited series – and the “Manje” shirt in light cotton, available in five colors. Note that for each model, labels and buttons are also recycled.

For the moment, the shirts are available for pre-order at a reduced price via the Ulule campaign. The models mentioned above will then be priced at € 109 each (around $ 130).

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Daniel Lange

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