Ekocycle, the eco-conscious brainchild brand of musical artist Will.i.am and Coca Cola, has announced a new line of fashion-forward men’s suits designed by New Zealand-based H Brothers. Will.i.am approached the 140-year-old clothing company to do a collaboration with Ekocycle after he become a fan of their garments and saw a chance to fill a gap in the market for eco-friendly suits. We recently had a chance to check out the new line of jackets, pants and accessories, which are made out of rPET (a fabric made using recycled plastic bottles). Read on to see what we thought!
PREVIOUSLY ON ECOUTERRE: Levi’s, Case-Mate Join Will.i.am, Coca-Cola’s “Ekocycle” Recycling Initiative
H Brothers is the latest brand to to join the Ekocycle family, which includes products designed by adidas, Beats by Dr. Dre, Levi’s, New Era and RVCA. Will.i.am was introduced to the company when he performed at a special event for H Brothers customers, and took a liking to their suits. Soon after, he approached them to create a line of menswear using recycled materials for Ekocycle, and the result was a line of sharply tailored suit jackets and pants that challenge the idea that eco products need to look crunchy or hempy. H Brothers also says that it has priced its Ekocycle products (currently $135.99 for jackets and $76.49 for pants) to cost the same as the other, non-recycled garments in their collection.
“The Ekocycle ethos is to be fashion forward at an sensible price,” Scott Best, Style and Design, H Brothers, told Ecouterre. “So we don’t want people to pay a premium for an eco-friendly product, which in turn makes it easier for a consumer to make a responsible decision.”
“Ekocycle is all about tapping into popular culture to find new ways to reduce the amount of waste we produce,” said Will.i.am. “With partners like H Brothers leading the way, we are giving used plastic bottles new life by transforming the material into stylish quality products people want. The new line of suits from H Brothers is a perfect example of the Ekocycle mission in action.”
The fabric used in the collection is a specially-developed blend of viscose and a fiber called Repreve, which is made of post consumer recycled plastic bottles. The jackets in the line contain a minimum of 60 percent post-consumer waste materials and the pants contain at least 53 percent post consumer waste materials. Both the suits and the material they’re made from are manufactured in China, but H Brothers took special care to partner with a factory it felt would uphold its ethical and environmental standards.
“The factory that we aligned with is an American company called Unifi. Unifi has a fiber called Repreve, which is one of the only fibers that you can look under a microscope and see that it is actually rPET (recycled PET),” Best explains to Ecouterre. “You’ve got to be really careful because there’s not a lot of difference between virgin polyester and recycled polyester so you have to align with someone who you know is the real thing.”
H Brothers’ hope is that even though it’s technically losing money by not charging more for the eco collection, it’ll be making it a “no-brainer” for their consumers to purchase the greener option. The firm has also labeled each product with a number showing how many plastic bottles are in each (about 15 in each jacket and about 9 for each pair of pants) to encourage customer awareness and tell a story about where materials come from.
We were rather surprised at the soft and smooth hand-feel of the recycled content fabric. H Brothers says it experimented with 20 different material ratios before it got it right.
The line features more mainstream looks like a slim suit and a skinny tux, but also steps out of the box in typical Will.i.am fashion with a deconstructed conductor’s jacket, an asymmetrical tailed jacket and a drop-crotch trouser. The collection is currently on pre-order at the Ekocycle website.