Recycling clothing is not an unknown concept in the fashion industry. But the concept of converting doormats to shirts, is impressively new. Thousands of doormats made from hundreds of meters of fabrics are burnt and go up in smoke in South Africa. On seeing this, designer Valentine Rob decided to create Akho, a brand that aims to create timeless clothes made with all natural materials, mostly from the stock of doormats, which is eco-friendly as it reduces waste considerably. This helps in reducing wastage caused by the fashion industry as it is considered as one of the most polluting industries in the world.
It is crucial for the fashion industry to find alternative ways to recreate itself in order to reduce environmental footprint. Through the initiative of reselling schemes, the use of low or non-polluting fibres, and through recycling this has been a successful aim. In other ways, Valentine Robin’s route to finding a way of reducing wastage was initiated with the launch of ‘Akho’. The concept of the brand revolves around ‘Circularity’, that is, giving a new contract of life to meters of textile fabrics downgraded to warehouses, or even burned due to their defects, piled stock, production surplus or cancellation.
An organisation was held where the designers had an opportunity to go around-the-world and visit committed entrepreneurs towards sustainable fashion, and their different outlooks on achieving it. It was then that the brand ‘Akho’ was brought to light. The textile factory in South Africa, was left with rolls of freshly made fabric from France. THis was a customized order that was cancelled. Due to lack of space and money, these hundreds of fabric rolls were being burnt at the back of their premises, causing impressive black smoke.
It was at this moment that Valentine was inspired to create his brand. He focused it on the strong social and environmental commitments. He said in an interview that the disappointment of the employees who would have faced destruction of weeks of work, would be a serious trigger and that inspired him to involve and invest in a circular and loyal system that would put expertise, humanity and respect for the environment at the centre of its concerns.
NO NEW MATERIALS!
There is absolutely no use of new materials. The brand — Akho translates to “no new material” in Zulu, in relation to the country through which the idea was brought to life. The shirts by Akhi have gained a massive following and fanbase for those looking to acquire a responsible wardrobe. In order to limit the impact on the environment and reduce waste, Akho has determined itself to pick dormant stock from major European houses or fabric production workshops, focusing on high-quality, natural, chemical-free materials, such as linen and cotton. The manufacturing process takes place in a family workshop located in the Porto region of Portugal.
NO MATTER UPSTREAM OR DOWNSTREAM, NO WASTE!
Akho’s concept is solely focused on zero waste, with no raw material created. Additionally, the brad has initiated to take a step further and offers their product as a limited addition and made-to-order to avoid any over production. The idea is in complete harmony with the initial approach, which is aimed at limiting waste. Apart from these, the brand has also proposed garments that last over time that will be difficult to part with, unlike the “disposable fashion” that leads precisely to this overproduction.
Valentine believes that it is crucial to offer real lifelong companions, clothes that are loved and kept, passed on and that we look at which after years, is no more just a piece of clothing but also a memory. In order to achieve the emotional bond, it is important that the consumer feels that ‘THEIR’ piece is unique, rare and precious. This is the main reason as to why Valentine Robin decided to produce only a small series of high-quality, timeless pieces, each with a unique number, to support this feeling of exclusivity and uniqueness.
Recycling is not a new concept, but how you use them is. There are numerous ways you can recycle products in and around the comfort of your home. Valentine may have initiated a new way of recycling doormats and turned it into a brand where we can all contribute, but that is not the only available choice in today’s day and age. As small as an orange peel can be reused instead of being thrown into the garbage or even a plastic bottle that holds your favourite soda. All changes to benefit the environment start from your home.