Patagonia and Infinited Fiber Company have announced a multiyear deal guaranteeing the outdoor apparel brand access to Infinna™, the textile technology startup’s trademark fiber created out of textile waste. Infinna™ is a unique regenerated material that features the “soft and natural look and feel of cotton.”
Both companies see this as a big milestone for actualizing textile circularity in the near future. “Circularity is a marathon, not a sprint. By partnering with companies like Infinited Fiber Company, we are able to build a circularity partnership that not only recycles the products of the past but builds a circularity plan for the products of the future,” said Patagonia Lead Material Developer Ciara Cates.
Although the lifespan of textiles can be extended through repurposing or upcycling – think thrifting or cutting jeans into shorts – there is an eventual end products reach where it’s beyond repair. Instead of opting for the landfill, Infinited Fiber Company is breaking down textiles at the molecular level in order to transform the cellulose – the building blocks of all plants – into new fibers. This regenerative approach allows Infinna™ to be completely biodegradable with no microplastics. An item utilizing Infinna™ is capable of continuously going through the same cycle.
“There are many reasons to be excited about Infinna™. First and foremost, it enables the creation of beautiful, comfortable clothes 100% out of textile waste that’s been born again as Infinna™,” said Infinited Fiber Company CEO Petri Alava in an interview with Forbes. “And Infinna™ can also be created out of other cellulose-rich waste streams like used cardboard, paper, or even agricultural residues like rice or wheat straw. No matter which of these goes in, what comes out is the same, premium textile fiber.”
Patagonia has long been at the forefront of combating the climate crisis. In tandem with a long list of philanthropical endeavors, the apparel company also has a number of sustainable product initiatives, from its repair and reuse program Worn Wear, to NetPlus, where the brand uses recycled fish nets to create jackets, hats, and more.
“Patagonia is an industry pioneer in sustainable clothing and practices. Their environmental standards and requirements for sustainability are top of the league. We are humbled by their stamp of approval for Infinna™ as the circular alternative to virgin cotton going forward, and we’re very proud of the long-term commitment they have now made to using Infinna™ in their future collections,” said Infinited Fiber Company Key Account Director Kirsi Terho.
Patagonia’s commitment is a clear indicator that innovation in all areas of a company is almost required, especially in textile and materials. Textile Exchange notes that the global textile fiber market is expected to grow 30% from 111 million metrics tons in 2019 to 146 million metrics tons by 2030. Most of what is produced ends up in landfills or incinerators so the use of alternative materials and the support developing new options is not only a nice-to-have, it’s necessary.
Patagonia’s deal with Infinited Fiber Company, which also supplies materials to H&M and Wrangler, will help the textile startup grow and scale to meet the overall demand of the global fashion and apparel industry. Infinited Fiber Company is planning to open a flagship factory in Finland that will have an annual production capacity of 30,000 metric tons, which, as the company states in a press release, “is enough fiber for roughly 100 million T-shirts made with 100% Infinna™.”
In related news, a recently published report states the next-gen materials industry will hit $2.2 billion USD by 2026.