Sears to Sell Eco-Friendly Men’s Suits Made of Recycled Plastic Bottles

By GreenerDesign Staff
Published April 2, 2009
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NEW YORK, N.Y. — The U.S. arm of Teijin Fibers Limited is partnering with Sears and the maker of the retailer’s private label apparel to fashion men’s suits from a blend of wool and polyester fibers that are produced from recycled PET bottles.

With $175 for a jacket and $75 for a pair of pants, customers can buy a suit that is billed as being fully machine washable and dryable, and made from fabric that is 54 percent recycled polyester, 42 percent wool and 4 percent spandex.

The jackets and slacks are to be sold as separates under Sears’ Covington Perfect brand, manufactured by Israeli firm Bagir Group Ltd. and are expected to hit the racks in U.S. stores in May. It takes about 25 2-liter polyethylene terephthalate bottles to produce enough polyester fiber to make a suit.
Image courtesy of Teijin
N.I. Teijin Shoji Inc. of New York announced the firms’ plans on Tuesday. N.I. Teijin Shoji is a part of the high tech textile company that belongs to Japan’s Teijin Group, a multinational corporation embracing 160 firms with a long history in the chemical industry.

Established in 1918, Teijin was the first company in Japan to produce rayon yarn. The company started its polyester fibers business in 1958 and has since positioned itself as a leading manufacturer of synthetic fibers.

Teijin’s Eco-A-Wear textiles are being marketed as an environmentally friendly fabric for use in making suits and other apparel that appeal to business professionals who are interested in a “new generation of green fashion.”

The manufacturing process does not rely on petroleum, says the company. It provides the simplified diagram below to illustrate how the recycled polyester fiber Teijin calls Ecopet is made and then spun with wool to create the Eco-A-Wear fabric.
Image courtesy of Teijin
Recovered PET bottles are milled into flakes, which are then granulated into pellets. The pellets are turned into the fiber that is blended with wool yarn to make the fabric.

Teijin first made a splash in producing textiles from recycled materials in partnership with Patagonia, when the two companies launched the Common Threads Recycling Program in 2005.

The first product involved in garment-to-garment recycling through Common Threads was Capilene (long) underwear. The process developed by Teijin enabled recycled Capilene to be used as raw material, which when substituted for petroleum resulted in new garments that were produced using 76 percent less energy and releasing 42 percent less carbon dioxide.

The Eco-A-Wear fabric was in development for two years before coming to market. Its promoters say it wears and drapes well for an easy-to-care-for look that is comfortable and, unlike polyester of bygone days, breathes.

Polyester suits for men made their appearance in the 1970s with generously cut two-piece leisure suits for the weekend and suburban set and fitted three-piece ensembles — bell-bottomed slacks, vests and jackets — that sold as separates for disco wear.

One of the more ubiquitous brands was Angels Flight, which was priced so that buyers could get a three-piece suit and a shirt or accessories for about $110. The suits came in a range of colors — the expected black, brown, gray, tan, taupe and navy as well as the hues that marked the period: russet, rust, white and powder blue.

The pair below, which had been available through www.dressthatman.com, went for $21 in stores and was sold for $159.99, according to the website featuring men’s vintage clothing.
A sign of the ’70s. Source: www.dressthatman.com
www.dressthatman.com

Images courtesy of Teijin, except for the photo of Angels Flight slacks.
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Comments
Fri, 04/03/2009 – 18:38 — Anonymous
How long until its “Mens
How long until its “Mens suits turned back into plastic bottles”.

Wed, 04/08/2009 – 17:16 — rbpill1
Don’t Laugh at rPET
Believe it or not, Recycled Polyethylene Terephthalate (rPET) is fast becoming a popular material used in all types of fabrics. In fact, our company, EcoMarketingSolutions.com has been selling custom imprinted and logoed rPET tote bags for several years-and customers like it. The material is durable and has a nice feel to it.

When mixed with wool fibers, I am sure the only way consumers will know the difference between the Sears’ eco-blend suit and one of their regular wool blend suits will be from the tags and signage promoting it.

It is great that companies are coming up with practical uses for discarded PET, to avoid this material from ending up in landfills. I hope everyone will support the green industry by buying clothing made with rPET fabric–for the good of the planet.
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Robert Piller is President of EcoMarketingSolutions.com, a provider of environmentally-friendly custom-imprinted promotional products that are made from recycled, organic or biodegradable materials. You can also read and comment on his blog: GreenSpotBlog.com