Circular workwear collection
Fashion is one of the most polluting industries, producing thousands of tonnes of textile waste per year. Introducing circular business models in the European fashion sector is a challenge and one of its pillars is to reuse waste in new products.
The project aims to create a representable workwear collection for hotel service personnel made from repurposed industrial textiles in the EU. Focused on advantaged bespoke design and developing different sustainable treatments for dyeing and finishing to the textile wastes to create a high quality B2B collection. All the articles in the collection will be easy to customise and will include bespoke features. By changing the colours, length and functional details, the pieces can be adapted to the customers’ needs, while supporting local industry.
Did you know that hotels and hospitals do not own the textiles they are using, but they are renting all the bedlinen for their needs? In each European city there is at least one textile rental company which provides the maintenance and care for the bedlinen we are sleeping in when we visit a hotel or are treated in a hospital. These long lasting and high quality textiles are produced for heavy maintenance and comfort. When the textiles can not be used as bedlinen anymore, the textile rental company removes the textiles from their first lifecycle. As there are hundreds of hotels, and millions of beds in every European city, the amount of bedsheets taken out of use every day is huge. Since 2016, we are collaborating with textile rental companies in Finland and in Germany and every year we are able to collect and reuse tons of textiles which would be down-cycled or in worst case, burned for energy. Millions and millions of tons of textiles are burned every year throughout Europe and our mission is to save as many as we can. We wanted to bring these textiles back to where they came from. To the restaurants and hotels.
To create circularity within the hospitality industry textiles, we decided to design a workwear collection for hotel and restaurant staff from the old bedsheets. We wanted to offer a new take for what is considered staff clothing in terms of design, functional clothing and circularity. Having a background in designing womens wear fashion collections, we wanted to introduce the idea of community building with fashion into workwear. Instead of creating a workwear which would differentiate the working staff from the visitors, we wanted to create a collection which would make the visitors feel connected and belonging. An experience of a community, and wanting to be part of.
THE BIRTH OF THE PROJECT
After looking at vintage workwear design, studying the history of functional clothing and finding a lot of inspiration, we got in touch with professional chefs, cookbook authors and food influencers. The professionals, with strong focus on design and quality, got excited about the idea of creating new lifecycles and having design workwear. We also learned that the restaurant scene is very male driven and therefore the workwear is missing design which women find appealing, fitting and their own.
THE CREATIVE PROCESS
Due to the 2020 corona pandemic, our design focus shifted into creating a workwear capsule collection, which would be versatile enough to have as your home cooking outfit and city walks with friends. We were excited to bring the professional workwear into everyday design, and the other way around. If we would be able to create a design which would qualify for professional cooks and our women wear collection customers, it should be able to reach the original idea of inclusive workwear for hotel and restaurant staff. The key design pieces for the project turned into a set of two jumpsuits, a button up collar shirt and an apron. Each design has special features, such as press buttons for the leg closure, mesh fabric for cooling, detachable and customizable straps, logo placements, pockets and many more! The first two designs of the collection were designed in collaboration with a Finnish chef, cookbook author and food influencer Hanna Gullichsen. TAUKO x Hanna G jumpsuit and apron are already available sold at the TAUKO online store and we have been excited to witness their success. The second part, the Painter jumpsuit and shirt will be launched online in 2021.
In order to succeed, we needed to find a partner to guarantee textiles finishes which would take as little energy as possible and leave no toxic footprints on the environment. In 2017 we visited Poland with a production agency in a search for a new supply chain for our womenswear collection. This is how we got to know KNK Kanaka, a Polish dyeing house specialised in sustainable textile finishes. Now, 3 years after meeting Katazynka and Ewa, we got in contact with them again, and were happy to create a partnership for the project. KNK-Kanaka is a Global Organic Textile Standard certified laundry and dye-house committed in finding new sustainable methods for textile finishing. With their in house laboratory, KNK-KANAKA was able to provide customized textile treatment: we experimented with laser printing and many other methods to see how we could offer different variations of the same cut for customization. With the upcycling UpViDo method, they were able to transform old hotel textiles into new designs providing refreshing color treatment and finishes. Combining the design knowledge and reused textiles and dyeing expertise, we were able to create a fully functional prototype which none of us could not have done alone.
The workwear line will be developed to be an ongoing part of our offering, sold and marketed at theTAUKO online store and in-stores in Helsinki. We wish to be able to offer it also for restaurant and hotel staff in the future. The mentoring sessions and working together as a team made us understand how we could approach a new market section and become successful in it using the network and skillset we already have in our hands. Now we hope that the circular workwear collection will be loved for home cooking sessions and it would bring a lot of joy for these times of uncertainty.
The partnership project has been helping us to define where we want to go and what are the challenges with the different target audiences and reaching a new market. We were grateful to have the flexibility and the business model canvas with interactive modulus, to try out how we could adapt to the new situation of 2020. And we were extremely happy being able to work with KNK kanaka all the way with the project.