Will coffee replace cotton in the clothing industry?

 In en, environment, fashion, innovation, manufacturing, plastic, wearable

Nowadays, companies in most industries are looking for ways to be more sustainable in their processes. From automating factory floors to recycling materials for products, there is a growing consensus that industry leaders want to change the way some things are produced.

We’ve all heard of linen, the biodegradable alternative to cotton that is rarely used. And there is also the use of hemp in clothing manufacturing. Yet many of us still predominately wear cotton, often laced with petroleum based polyester. The reason for this, I think for most people, is the durability of this particular fabric combination. Despite the obvious environmental effects, polyester is such a common fabric for clothes because it can last longer than other materials, it is water resistant, doesn’t wrinkle and can soak up a persons’ sweat. But, even though this is a great material, the growing concern for the environment means industries need alternatives.

On the search for a more eco-friendly alternative

Likewise, what would you choose if you had a choice between washing your clothes on alternate days, or not washing them for weeks – with the same result? It seems obvious that most people would choose the latter. No-one really enjoys the cumbersome method of collecting, stuffing, pulling, placing, de-creasing and who knows what else, just so you can look your best in the office. It’s an effort we all go through; a fact of life we all adhere to. But what if we didn’t have to? What if our clothes absorbed bad odours, what if they didn’t really need to be washed? What if they were eco-friendly?

This seemingly dreamy thought journey could be a reality right now. And the culprit? The magical elixir behind the innovation? Coffee.

Coffee and plastic to keep you warm

Yes, you could wear your coffee to work in the future. Well that’s only half of it; you could actually wear your coffee and a bunch of plastic bottles to work. The company behind this innovation is called S.Café, Taiwanese textile manufacturers who have been working on the technology since 2005.

It all started in 2005 when the founder, Jason Chen, was drinking coffee with his wife in a coffee shop. A customer came in and asked for the waste coffee grounds, to use them as a deodoriser for their home. Chen’s wife proceeded to make a joke that Jason should use coffee in his clothing to get rid of that ‘sweaty man smell’. Instantly, Jason decided that his wife’s funny remark could actually have some use. Fast forward four years to 2009 and the S.Café brand was created with many products that use the natural ability of coffee to soak up bad scents, repel moisture, soak up and eliminate perspiration and keep the warmth in as well as being wind proof, UV protected and fast drying.

Here’s how it works

The company collects coffee grounds from coffee shops and blends them with a polymer made from recycled plastic bottles to create master batches. They use a patented process that creates a yarn which is then made into garments.

The company has partnered with many brands such as performance wear manufacturers Virus, outdoor clothing titans The North Face and lifestyle clothing manufacturers American Eagle. These are just a few of the brands incorporating the coffee yarn into their fashion lines.

As for the future, the idea of turning waste into something new is becoming a common goal for many industries. As consumers become more actively involved in the clothes they wear, the need for sustainable fashion will rise, let’s hope people continue to drink coffee to maintain their fashion needs then! At Venture Campus we are all about innovative ideas. Want to share yours? Contact us and let’s chat about all the opportunities!


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