To produce a new T-shirt requires approximately 3,500 litres of water — plus other resources. Whilst restoring one, according to research program Mistra Future Fashion, uses just 10 litres and cuts carbon emissions by around 60%.
Patent-pending Swedish innovation Biorestore was just announced as one of five winners in this year’s Global Change Award. Founders Wajahat Hussain and Richard Toon have 15+ and 20+ years respectively in the fashion industry, working for major brands as well as behind the scenes in the production of fashion and textiles with, for instance, textile science and development, innovation design, and sustainability.
— We call Biorestore a ’retergent’, that restores, revives, and refreshes clothing to a new state, the duo say. From a science perspective, bio-restoration is a physicochemical process where the enzymes and your laundry machine help each other. The enzymatic action targets the pills and weakens them while the centrifugal force provided by the machine detaches and removes the fibres. The biggest benefit of enzymes is that they are smart — really smart, indeed — only activating under suitable conditions and deactivating when those conditions are removed or are not optimal. By removing the obstructive layer of fibres, Biorestore solves all of these issues.
Wajahat and Richard have made a conscious decision to focus on the cotton and cellulose market first, as this is a major part of the fashion sector.
— The product works on cotton and cotton blended fabrics, such as a 100% cotton sweatshirt or a blended material garment like a 50% cotton/50% wool sweater. Cotton is from the cellulose family of textiles — plant-based fibres — meaning that Biorestore also works on cellulose-based fibres and garments, such as linen. Cotton covers 60-70% of the market across fashion and home furnishing textiles. We see the opportunity for a major industrial and consumer impact across this market segment to prolong the life of garments and reduce the fashion industry’s footprint.
— We have developed a hypothesis for other textile fibres, that, with further investment, would go into the next stage.
The company just finished its first campaign on Kickstarter.
— We were chosen as a ’Project We Love’ by the Kickstarter team — and fully funded within 24 hours. Our decision to launch that way is the possibility for communication with the end consumer. Their feedback is vital to further understanding the marketplace, as although we have done hundreds of hours of research, talking to people is key to learning. So, the campaign is simply part of the process to test the market, messaging, communication, and back end of the business, whilst also allowing consumers to interact directly with us and ask questions. Primarily, we are using Kickstarter as a ’live’ learning process to gather feedback and data for constant iteration of and refinement of details, the duo say. They continue:
— So far the feedback has been phenomenal, and the questions are very much in line with the hypothesis of what these would be, alongside a few opportunities we predicted in the Australian and Canadian markets. From the research we carried out prior to launching, we understood that both Australia and Canada are very much at the forefront of ’cleanfluencer’ trends and laundry hack trends, with social media and Tiktok really pushing this niche. The response from these markets has led to an acceleration of opening up these markets based on the demand.
After the mentioned Kickstarter, Biorestore has rolled out on another crowdfunding site, Indiegogo, with a different audience and will launch their own webshop selling directly to consumers, before shipping out the product after the summer.
— We are in discussion with several major retailers to stock the product, alongside specialist laundry retailers, and a possible collab with laundry technology producers. As part of the Global Change Award 2022, we’re also a part of the H&M Foundation accelerator (which is a part of the prize, Ed’s note), Richard and Wajahat say. They add:
— We have several products in the development pipeline. As we’re from the design and innovation sector, we see huge opportunities for a portfolio and consumer mindset for both the short and long term future across a range of products.
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