How can unusable wasted textiles like denim be transformed into new recycled textiles that decompose and recompose within continuous circular material streams?
Post-consumer material and product designer Tim van der Loo developed the conceptual project New Blue in response to this question. New Blue combines circularity with a zero waste production technique to create a pair of denim jeans.
To begin the process, discarded jeans – serving as a raw material – are cut into small fibres and then bonded to form a fleece. During the course of the project, two distinct routes have been explored, each with their own unique qualities: an industrially produced recycled jeans fibre non-woven fabric, and a self-produced, “crafted” non-woven fabric. The industrially produced non-woven shows a homogenous, uniform surface, whereas the crafted fleece appears irregular, rough and textured, giving room for individual expression.
The New Blue concept offers a novel way to form defined areas on a fabric roll. Digitally-aided industrial embroidery is applied to the fleece not only to create a stable fabric but also to generate the cut-patterns needed for the final piece of clothing, thus rationalising the entire production process from fibres to garment.
The embroidered areas of the non-woven cloth remain intact when exposed to water, whereas the non-embroidered parts of the fleece disintegrate. These loose denim fibres can be reused as raw material, while the embroidered parts remain stable and can be sewn together without further cutting, establishing a circular and zero waste production method.
The New Blue project stems from a desire to rethink the notion of recycled materials and create a truly circular product lifecycle.
With the rise of fast fashion, denim has transitioned from a hardwearing, durable workwear fabric into a staple of the contemporary wardrobe and we are left with vast streams of waste without the infrastructure to absorb them.
A worn-out pair of jeans is treated as a waste product, from which the useful materials can be extracted and then repurposed as, for example, building insulation. This project seeks to change this methodology by instead finding a way of reincarnating the jeans as a renewed version of themselves.
New Blue promotes a different material cycle, which manifests itself in the novel production sequences as well as its final outcome. The traditional end product is now envisaged as one stage within a continuous, circular succession of decomposing and recomposing.
By adopting this approach, the aesthetic of the jeans - from the texture of the reborn denim, and the design of the overstitching to the cut of the pattern - can also evolve with time, responding to trends and ensuring the reincarnated product is always relevant and personal.
About Tim van der Loo
Tim van der Loo is a material and product designer – based in Berlin, born in the Netherlands – using post consumer resources to develop new surfaces and structures. Even though his main concern is sustainability, he cares about bringing a contemporary aesthetic to recycled materials. His works are reflections of a playful approach to the function and matter of objects for everyday use. The methodology used in his practice is to work with waste as a resource.
Tim van der Loo takes two perspectives; working with craft, enabling independency with DIY tools, machines and techniques and working with the industry, meaning to collaborate, translate and to develop user items for bigger scale. Working within industry is set out not to design something new but to redesign the material that was wasted before and keep it out of being wasted.
View Tim van der Loo's portfolio - https://tim-vanderloo.myportfolio.com/work
References 1/ https://tim-vanderloo.myportfolio.com/new-blue 2/ https://designfarmberlin.com/portfolio-item/new-blue/ 3/ https://ddw.nl/en/programme/2846/reality