Fab Fabrics: Bionic Yarn

What do you get when a musician and a textile company get together? It looks like what you get is a plan to bring recycled fabric into the mainstream!

Music producer, singer-songwriter, and rapper Pharrell Williams is teaming up with the New York-based textile firm Bionic Yarn to work on a new fabric made from recycled plastic. Williams started out as a hip hop artist, writing lyrics for folks like Wreckx-N-Effects and going on to produce albums and release his own music. He’s had his own fashion lines before, co-founding Billionaire Boys Club and Ice Cream Footwear. Now, he’s planning to make upcycled fabric a viable option for clothing makers!

Exciting, right? Here’s what Williams has to say:

I’m so interested in the technology behind this, I’m also very concerned about the environment and want to make a conscious effort to make it better. We were just looking at this new canvas that is amazing. Basically, the denim is still denim, the cotton is still cotton. The process to make the Bionic Yarn makes it extremely durable and gives it a really luxurious feel. When Nigo’s team β€” my partners at BBC/Ice Cream β€” felt the Bionic Yarn cotton, they couldn’t believe how smooth it feels. Our goal is to be the go-to fabric supplier, we want to provide quality fabrics that happen to also be sustainable. We want to do everything from high-end luggage, to high-end denim, to university caps and gowns to Parks Department uniforms. It’s a plus that the fabric brings environmentalism to a whole new level.

So what is the technology behind Bionic Yarn?
The website lays it out in pretty simplistic terms. I do wonder about a couple of things. They chop up plastic bottles and “extrude” the flakes into fibers. I’d like to know a bit more about what’s involved in the extruding. Does it involve a lot of harsh chemicals like turning bamboo fibers into fabric?

The extruding process creates “staple fibers” that they weave with “high tenacity polyester.” They don’t say where the polyester comes from, but that is normally a petroleum product, so I’ve got some questions there, as well. Once they’ve got the fibers, they can spin it into yarn or weave it into fabric.

So what do you guys think? I’m all for widespread use of recycled fabric, and Bionic Yarn seems to be keeping its process pretty transparent, which you’ve got to respect. Still, there are a couple of points in the process that give me pause. What about you?


Image Credit: Creative Commons photo by kristinb

7 thoughts on “Fab Fabrics: Bionic Yarn”

  1. Well I looked at their site, and you’re right. They do lay out the mechanics of the production process pretty simply, but don’t mention anything about chemicals.

    I sent them an email asking if they plan to offer an organic cotton version of their yarns that have cotton in them. Also I asked if they considered about how their product will be disposed of. That’s one thing about mixed fiber products, you can’t do much but throw them away.

    I’ll post another comment when I get a reply.

  2. I love the idea of recycling but I personally think plastics are just a bad idea. Plastics take thousands of years to get rid of and contain harmful chemicals. I don’t even trust the “safe” plastics. I think we should focus more energy on biodegradable, sustainable fabrics that require less chemicals and water. We need to look at our consumption of products and reduce so we don’t have to recycle as much. Cool idea, but I’m still not sold.

  3. It’s a great concept, but I agree with Cerise. It’s nice to use a second time around though, for something that’s not going to biodegrade anytime soon. FYI though, an amazing company called nau, out of PDX has already done that in an amazing and non-logo just amazing design sort of way.

  4. Well, it’s been a week and I haven’t heard anything back from them. That’s another strike in my book.

    I totally agree with Cerise, we should reduce our consumption, and think about how something will be disposed of when we buy it.

  5. Hey, you’ve got to respect the fact that this company is saving millions of plastic bottles from landfills! I mean, a single pair of jeans uses 7 bottles.
    This fabric is so durable, the clothing will be able to be worn for years, whether or not by the same owner.. hey– hand-me-downs that don’t have holes in the knees are fine by me.
    Maybe it’s not perfect but they are trying and they care!!

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