Timberland is partnering with Thread, a Pittsburgh, Penn.-based manufacturer of sustainable fabrics, to create a collection of footwear and bags crafted from post-consumer recycled plastic bottles. The collaboration, set to debut next spring, will be the largest to date for Thread, a certified B Corp that seeks to create economic opportunities in developing countries such as Haiti and Honduras, where the bottles are collected. Spun in the United States, every yard of Thread fabric is traced from “bottle collection to fabric creation to the delivery of the fabric bolt to the manufacturer,” according to Ian Rosenberger, the firm’s CEO, who cites cleaner neighborhoods and job creation among Thread’s social contributions.
“This partnership is truly special. We’re proud to work with a brand with such a longstanding commitment to the environment and social responsibility,” Rosenberger said in a statement. “Working together transparently, we’re able to look beyond recycled materials toward the rich social impact consumers care about and the stories that bring beautiful products to life.”
Colleen Vien, director of sustainability at Timberland, described the partnership not only as a natural fit but one whose “unprecedented transparency” will allow customers to appreciate the impact of their purchases on a new level.
Thread says its network provides full- and part-time jobs for nearly 3,600 bottle collectors, entrepreneurs, and manufacturing employees in the developing world. In addition to a paycheck, employees also benefit from job training, process improvements, and microloan programs.
Plus, a shirt made from Thread’s “Ground to Good” fabric, composed of 50 percent recycled polyethylene terephthalate (better known as PET), uses about 50 percent less water than a similar garment derived from 100 percent cotton, the company said.
“We are beyond excited about partnering with Thread,” Vien said. “From the moment we met them, we knew this had the potential to be far more than a supplier relationship. Building community has always been at the heart of Timberland, and we were also inspired by the Haiti connection, given our work there over the past five years. Any time we find an opportunity to create both environmental and social value, that’s a big win. And Thread does just that.”
Timberland has a preexisting relationship with Haiti. The outdoor-apparel brand recently completed a five-year commitment to plant 5 million trees in the Caribbean nation. The goal? To create a “self-sustaining agroforestry cooperative” for thousands of smallholder farmers, raise productivity on their farmlands, and increase their incomes, Timberland said.