What if every company we buy clothes from offered to take back those clothes and reuse the materials to create new garments? This Cooper Hewitt video captures the creation of a felted Kimono Coat made from recycled Eileen Fisher sweaters, a process that’s part of Eileen Fisher’s commitment to sustainable practices. One of these felted coats is on display in the Cooper Hewitt collection:
Since 2009, with almost no promotion of the initiative, over 600,000 garments were returned. About 40% are still usable; they are cleaned and repaired in the company’s recycling centers in Irvington, NY and Seattle and sold through Green Eileen outlets. The proceeds support foundations working for the empowerment of women and girls.
The colored textile layering process shown in the video is key to the coat’s style and structure:
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Needle punch is a type of industrial felting which uses beds of barbed needles to mechanically entangle fibers. Used garments are deconstructed to their 2-dimensional pieces, layered on top of a gauzy substrate, and passed several times through the machine. The entangling action blends the colored fibers from different layers, giving a soft, painterly effect. The resulting fabric is suitable for upholstery, wall hangings, or coats…