In New York, the "I am not a virgin" brand produces clothes made from recycled plastic bottles. A green technology for a more responsible fashion.
The difference with usual clothing? Aesthetically none, environmentally a lot.
People don’t always realize that making clothes is very greedy in terms of natural resources. Large amounts of water are needed to grow cotton and oil is used to fuel production plants, as well as for delivering items to where they are sold. So our closets are often full of clothes that cost the environment dearly.
But what if we could turn the tide? Make clothes and look after the planet too? That was dream of Peter Heron, a young artistic director, when he created his brand of “eco-sexy” clothes in New York in 2013. What’s special about his clothes? They’re made from a blend of cotton and recycled plastic bottles. Peter Heron took his brand name - "I am not a virgin" – from the idea. A humorous way of reminding people that, unlike conventional jeans, his jeans are not only made with virgin cotton.
The manufacturing process is well established. Plastic bottles are collected in sorting plants. They are ground into fine particles and then melted down to make thread. This is then mixed with cotton thread and woven into the denim cloth.
What’s the difference? Aesthetically none at all, environmentally a lot, because they are partly made out of recycled plastic bottles. A real plus for the planet since, as pointed out by the brand on its website, 200 billion plastic bottles are thrown away every year. Furthermore, Peter Heron claims that if this green technology were used to produce all the jeans sold in the United States, it would save a not inconsiderable 1 billion barrels of oil a year!
2014 winner of the "Make Impact NYC" award - a competition between "social" enterprises in New York - the brand has pushed the concept even further. Now, in addition to sweaters and t-shirts, it also plans to extend the line through this fall with sweatpants, shorts, underwear and varsity socks. Morever, it is also currently developing an innovative yarn made from 100% PET and rice husks from food industry waste. A raw material that is less harmful to the environment than cotton.
Finally, Peter Heron works with professionals from iconic brands - like Gap and Marc Jacobs - which are also committed to the environment. Their goal: to breathe ecology into the tight world of fashion.
Today Heron is in talks with new investors, and has some exciting new plans for the near future. We’ll have to wait to see who’ll be joining the adventure!
Main picture: I Am Not A Virgin