The RAMI project

by Alice Beyer Schuch – Sep/2016

During the First Global Sustainable Fashion Week in Budapest, Hungary, where I was invited to present my work based on the chemical recycle of cellulose, I have got to know a bit more about Anthyia and its rami fabrics. And in my query to find alternatives to the polluting fashion issues, creating fashion to promote the circular economy through right sustainable design strategies, a collaboration was born and Cirkla Modo x Anthyia #1 Circular Outfit was developed.

The garments are made with 100% rami fabrics from Anthyia. These fibres, sourced from ramie plant, have been used for thousands of years. It is also one of the strongest natural fibres – up to eight times strongest then cotton, and with density and absorbency comparable to flax. It can be harvested up to six times a year, what classifies the plant as a rapid renewable resource. And growing in semi-tropical humid conditions, there is no need of fresh water irrigation – an advantage when considering water scarcity forecast. Anyways, the plant is also able to withstand droughts and can achieve a life span of twenty years. In addition to it, there is no need of pesticides, and yields of fibre can reach 1.5 tonnes per hectare – as comparison, cotton has a global average of 700Kg per hectare.

Ramie is considered a premium vegetable fibre, being very durable, with silky lustre, resistance to bacteria, extremely high absorbency and it dries quickly, therefore comfortable to wear in warm-humid conditions. Thinking on its properties, the Cirkla Modo x Anthyia #1 Circular Outfit was inspired on classic sports as tennis, with plain and timeless lines.

b4-sh1_transp_smallCirkla Modo x Anthyia #1 Circular Outfit

But only the right material does not guarantee the sustainability of a garment. We know that, so far, in the textile world, the mix of synthetic and natural materials are a challenge to the cyclability of it. As said once by Albin Kaelin, CEO of EPEA Switzerland, it is a NO GO! To tackle this issue, companies have developed alternatives which could be used during this project. From sewing yarn to buttons, woven labels to ribbons, a biodegradable elastic, an interfacing, and a monofilament for 3D printing – all of them can be now found made of biodegradable polymer which can safely return to biological systems.

The need of a new approach to fashion is visible. Polluting and exploitative current practices, forecasts of resource scarcity, as well as growth of population can lead to an unforeseen crisis on the fashion industry; or can guide new ways of designing and making businesses. Suggesting new design strategies that deals with environmental issues can be challenging, considering restrictions when thinking on recyclability and biodegradability, and may require some compromises, where creative solutions must be suggested without them resulting in disadvantages to users.

This project complies to the concept of the circular economy, being restorative by design, choosing a less-thirty and polluting alternative fibre, and deliberately selecting only biological materials during the design phase…

The alternatives are there! Step by step we can improve it! Let’s keep our eyes opened!


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