Recycled Plastic Fabrics: A Hot Fashion Trend

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Skintight skinny jeans, rugged fleece jackets, and Giselle’s 2018 Met Gala dress all have something in common.

Plastic fabrics.

You may not realize how many of your favorite outfits are created with fabrics made with plastics: nylon, polyester, rayon, spandex, vinyl, and more. Everyday apparel and numerous trends over the past few decades have relied heavily on plastic fabrics: faux fur and leather, quick-dry swimwear, cycling shorts, sweat-wicking athletic gear, yoga pants, slimming undergarments… the list seems endless. And today plastic fabrics enable and influence new fashions and have become indispensable on the runways.

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The latest trend? Recycled plastic fabrics in everyday clothing, swimwear, and haute fashion, as more and more designers and clothing manufacturers embrace eco-friendly practices.

The recycling process starts with everyday plastic products (usually bottles and containers, some even recovered from the ocean) that are cleaned and melted. The recycled plastics then are spun into threads that are woven into the versatile, durable, and beautiful fabrics you’ve loved for decades. These recycled fabrics help keep those plastic bottles and containers out of landfills and the environment.

Although recycled plastics in fabrics caught on slowly after arriving on the scene in the 1990s, now these fabrics are found in so many fashion and clothing items… from mass-market T-shirts to couture handbags. Clothing companies produce entire lines made from recycled plastics, and some have programs that allow customers to return worn apparel for recycling.

The trend today receives an enormous boost from big name celebrities who endorse clothing lines made with recycled plastic fabrics—and often wear these fashions on the red carpet.

Simply put, recycled plastic fabrics in clothing is “in”… one of today’s defining fashion trends.