If you’ve been tuned in to the news this past week, you may be tired of hearing about the Australian Open. This story is as well, but bear with us, because we’re talking about an exciting sustainability development launched at the tennis tournament.
Before the event was overshadowed by the visa/vaccination situation of one Serbian that shall not be named, Ralph Lauren was making sustainability and innovation moves in collaboration with Natural Fiber Welding (NFW).
Touted as being made with the first high-performance cotton fabric in the world, this Polo uses NFW’s patented platform that transforms virgin and recycled cotton in ways that haven’t been possible in the past. The technology creates enhanced cotton fibers with high-performance characteristics, such as quick-drying and moisture management, but still maintains the comfort and breathability of cotton. The end product is similar in performance to plastic-based synthetic materials, like polyester and nylon, that use petroleum-based fossil fuels to get those same performance attributes.
“With the introduction of the RLX CLARUS® Polo Shirt, we are using our most iconic product as a canvas to launch an industry-changing and scalable textile technology –a high-performance apparel product that is created with natural fibers for the first time,” said David Lauren, Chief Branding and Innovation Officer. “We’re proud to build on the brand’s legacy of signature and authentic style, reinvented for the future.”
The CLARUS® technology is achieved through the use of ionic liquids on natural fiber materials. Ionic liquids, or liquid salts, are known for dissolving cellulose, which is abundantly present in the cell of natural materials. The CLARUS technology platform uses these ionic liquids to swell, mobilize and reconstruct the cellulosic bonds at the molecular level, leading to stronger, more durable and functional yarns and fabrics when carefully engineered and controlled. The salt is removed and gathered to be reused, leaving only the original fiber behind but with enhanced performance properties.
This new athletic Polo follows the announcement that Ralph Lauren and NFW would be increasing their collaboration efforts. In August of 2020, the brand announced a minority investment into the startup with the aim of helping scale its patented process and develop first-of-its-kind performance apparel made from natural, sustainable materials. The RLX CLARUS® Polo Shirt comes as a first sample and proof of this collaboration’s success.
While Ralph Lauren still has a good way to go to call itself a fully sustainable brand, this is only one of the steps its made towards that goal. Back in March of 2021, the brand announced a Comprehensive Circularity Strategy designed to further its sustainability goals, part of its “Design for Change” commitment.
Ralph Lauren will be hosting an exhibition clinic during the Open, accompanied by tennis legend Sam Groth, and Australian football player and avid tennis fan Josh Cavallo. During the clinic, the athletes will wear the new RLX CLARUS® Polo Shirt and showcase the performance qualities of the innovative material, in peak Australian summer heat.
“I’ve been a longtime fan of Ralph Lauren – they’re a classic brand with incredible style and are always pushing boundaries to make really innovative new products,” says professional Australian football player Josh Cavallo. “As a professional athlete who trains every day, it’s incredible to be able to wear a 100% cotton shirt that is stylish, has superior performance qualities and keeps me comfortable even on the hottest of days – all made with a sustainable spirit.”
After its debut at the tennis tournament, the new polo will become globally available, with additional colors and women’s versions being introduced. You can stay up to date on the product’s release at ralphlauren.com.