Recycled Plastic Fabrics: A Hot Fashion Trend

Sustainable Plastic Clothing

What do skinny jeans, rugged fleece jackets, and Sandra Bullock’s 2010 Golden Globes dress have in common? They’re all made possible by plastics!

Most of us don’t realize how many of our favorite clothing items are made with plastic fabrics. In fact, everyday apparel and many trends over the past few decades have relied on plastics: faux fur and leather, quick-dry swimwear, cycling shorts, sweat-wicking athletic gear, slimming undergarments, sneakers, sunglasses … the list seems endless. And today plastic fabrics enable and influence new fashions and have become indispensable on the runways.

The latest trend in plastics and apparel? Recycled plastics.

More and more clothing manufacturers are embracing fabrics made with recycled plastics.

The process starts with commonplace plastic products (usually bottles and containers) that are cleaned and melted. The recycled plastics then are spun into threads that are woven into the versatile, durable, and beautiful fabrics we’ve loved for decades. And these recycled plastic fabrics help keep those bottles and containers out of the waste stream.

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

The trend today receives an immense boost from big name celebrities who endorse clothing lines made with recycled plastic fabrics – and even wear these clothes at red-carpet events.

Who knows … will recycled plastics in clothing become a defining fashion trend of this decade?