Technical details
Open Accordion
Size + fit
Open Accordion

Fit guide: The Garbage Sweater is designed with a regular fit.

Model wears: Greg Kheel is 6ft 2 / 188cm with a 39 inch / 99cm chest. Greg has an athletic build and is wearing the Garbage Sweater in size M.

Personalised advice: See our size guide for more advice on sizing, or you can ask us for personalised sizing advice here.

Returns and exchanges: Don’t worry if you order something and it doesn’t fit – we have a free, no hassle 30 day return and exchange period.

XSSMLXLXXL
Fits chest83-9091-9899-106107-114115-122123-130
Fits waist71-7676-8181-8686-9191-9696-101
XSSMLXLXXL
Fits chest33-3636-3939-4242-4545-4848-51
Fits waist28-3030-3232-3434-3636-3838-40
Garbage Sweater

Landfill can become a source of raw materials

Around 100 billion new pieces of clothing are made each year. And by 2050 that number is likely to double. At the same time we’re dumping over 150 tons of clothing in landfill every minute. So if we want to change that we need to start figuring out how to make new clothes from the ones we already have. While lots of the materials we work with start life in a cutting-edge lab or out in nature, the Garbage Sweater comes from a huge pile of trash.

Garbage Sweater

We’re following in the footsteps of Rambo

39 years ago Sylvester Stallone was freezing his butt off during a bitter Canadian winter on the set of Rambo First Blood. So when he spotted a derelict truck with a piece of rotting canvas stuck underneath it, he yanked the canvas out, cut a hole in it with his knife, pulled it over his head to keep himself warm, and accidentally created one of the most iconic outfits in cinema history. It shows how easily our perception of what is and isn’t garbage can be altered.

Garbage Sweater

Built from the toughest materials in the trash

Every material on Earth can end up in a garbage dump. There aren’t any real limits or restrictions. So you’ll find billions of tonnes of nylon and polyester from normal clothes which can take up to 200 years to decompose. But to make the Garbage Sweater we chose to work with some waste materials which are even more challenging to re-use. They’re called meta-aramid and para-aramid, collectively known as aramids, and we get them from old firefighter suits and bulletproof vests.

Garbage Sweater

Aramids are adding to the landfill crisis

The problem with aramid fibres is that the exact properties which make them incredibly useful are the same properties which make them extremely hard to get rid of. They won’t decompose for hundreds of years, and you can’t incinerate them because they won’t burn, so they simply get dumped in landfill. Every year 500 tons of firefighter gear are thrown away in France alone where the Garbage Sweater’s material is constructed.

Garbage Sweater

70% of the material is from firefighter suits

Firefighter suits are typically built out from meta-aramid which is highly flame resistant, doesn’t melt and has powerful thermal resistance. Its properties aren’t reserved just for firefighters either. Make a list of some of the most extreme and demanding jobs in the world, from astronauts and F1 drivers to military pilots and tank operators, and you’ll find them wearing clothing built from meta-aramid.

Garbage Sweater

The other 30% is from bulletproof vests

The remaining 30% of the sweater is made from para-aramid. While it’s closely related to meta-aramid which is a semi-crystalline fibre, it’s spun using a different technique to create a highly crystalline fibre. This high crystallinity results in a material with incredible tensile strength. It’s 5x stronger than steel on a weight for weight basis. And it’s so tough that 8 layers of it can stop a bullet. Which is exactly why it’s used to build bulletproof vests.

Garbage Sweater

Firefighter suits and ballistic vests have a short lifespan

Although meta-aramid and para-aramid can withstand things that normal materials can’t, they’re not invincible. Firefighter gear and ballistic vests are put under massive strain through their day to day use. And when they’re exposed to heat, chemicals and abrasion they gradually degrade. Once they’ve broken down to the point where they’re no longer safe to be worn as protective gear they have to be replaced. It makes the normal lifespan of a firefighter suit or a bulletproof vest just 5 years.

Garbage Sweater

Recycling aramid is hard

While it might not be strong enough or safe enough to work as protective gear anymore, in reality the clothes have only lost a fraction of their original properties. So we decided to make the first ever sweater out of old aramid fibres. While some efforts are being made to repurpose meta-aramids and para-aramids for use as insulation, the existing infrastructure to recycle these materials is pretty limited.

Garbage Sweater

How we make fabric out of garbage

All this means that building a Garbage Sweater requires a totally different process to how you would build a regular sweater. It starts by gathering a huge pile of trash made up of old firefighter suits, old bulletproof vests and unwanted fabric scraps that were produced during their original manufacturing processes. This pile is then shredded so that all of the fibres can be pulled out. These fibres are then cleaned, blended and spun to make the new material, which is then stitched and sewn into a sweater.

Garbage Sweater

As soft and comfortable as a regular sweater

While the Garbage Sweater is built with unconventional materials and experimental techniques, it’s not built to sit in a museum. It’s designed to be worn. It’s comfortable, warm, soft and sturdy. And both the inside and outside of the sweater feel like a rugged fleece.

The material can still repel fire

Even though the aramid fibres were destined for landfill, they still retain enough of their properties to make the Garbage Sweater fire resistant. Hold a flame to the material and it won’t catch fire and the flames won’t spread. It’s why the only other use for this material until now has been building protective industrial gloves designed to hold a piece of metal at 350°C for 12 seconds.

Garbage Sweater

It's not bulletproof yet

Depending on the type, weight and velocity of a bullet, bulletproof vests normally need a minimum of 8 layers of para-aramid to provide sufficient protection. These layers of super strong fibres act like a net, catching the bullet and suppressing its kinetic energy. Bigger, heavier and more powerful bullets sometimes need more than 50 layers of para-aramid to be stopped. So while the Garbage Sweater is made with 30% para-aramid, and blended into a single layer with meta-aramid to add strength, it’s not bulletproof.

Garbage Sweater

Our history of working with cutting edge materials

In our first 5 years we’ve made clothing from some of the most cutting-edge materials known to man. From jackets built with graphene and copper, and pants that can walk through fire, to t shirts and hoodies that turn into worm food. The Garbage Sweater represents the next step in our journey. It’s the first sweater ever built from aramid waste. And the next logical step for us is getting it out into the hands of early adopters to see what happens.

Garbage Sweater

Where the future of clothing is going

There are three ways to tackle sustainable clothing. You can use advances in material technology to make clothes with a longer life expectancy than the people wearing them. You can go back to using nature to make clothes that require as little energy as possible and leave no trace of their existence at the end of their lives. Or you can start digging into waste streams to use the stuff people have already generated and discarded. With our 100 Year range, our Algae range, and our Garbage range, we’re now tackling all three routes at the same time.

Garbage Sweater

It comes in its own garbage box

The Garbage Sweater comes in its own garbage box. It works like a pizza box, but has a sweater in it rather than a Margherita.

Garbage Watch

Inspired by our Garbage Watch

The Garbage Sweater is part of our mission to turn garbage dumps into a raw materials resource. And it all started with our Garbage Watch. Most of the 50 million tonnes of electronic waste that’s generated every year is treated like garbage even though it isn’t. Instead it contains many of the world’s precious metals like silver, platinum, copper, nickel, cobalt, aluminium and zinc. You’ll find 7% of the world's gold in e-waste. So our Garbage Watch started with a very simple idea. We’re building it entirely from the tech the world threw away in the trash.

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