Can a T-shirt Help Clean Our Air?

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Can a t-shirt save the world? This is the question that Italian fashion brand Kloters have been exploring as they develop RepAir, the world's first 'smart t-shirt' that actually cleans the air around you, capturing pollutants including NOx, Sox, bacteria and unpleasant odours. This is more than just reducing fashion's impact; this is about reversing it. Here, I interviewed the co-founder of Kloters, Federico Suria, to find out more  about the RepAir project and the eco textiles movement.

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Clothing is the cause of numerous social and environmental problems. How can clothing become part of the solution?

The impact of clothing on environment should be assessed along its entire life and so the solution. In every step of clothing production, distribution, usage and disposal things can be rethought to minimize impact: removing chemicals or reduce water consumption to grow cotton, certifying suppliers that do not exploit children or underpay workers, reducing the unnecessary movement of goods (maybe reinserting production into Europe), recycling wasted clothes. On a wider perspective making clothing that last longer - i.e. with high quality materials and construction, but also with a design that does not become outdated in few months - dramatically reduces environmental impact at its root: less production is equal to less social and environmental impact.

Beside all of this, as a brand we are looking at technology to make fashion an active contributor to clean the world. We have recently introduced RepAir, a t-shirt that incorporates a nanotechnology activated fabric that cleans air from pollution. Each t-shirt is capable to offset the emission of 2 cars. Considering that each year 2 billion of t-shirt are sold, one can imagine the potential if this technology is used on a large-scale. This could be the first marketed product that makes fashion a positive contributor in improving the planet conditions.

Do you feel that fashion brands in Italy are taking notice of sustainability?

There are more and more examples of Italian brands increasing their attention towards sustainability. This because consumers, especially millennials, are putting a growing attention to sustainability. However is much more difficult for established brands to change practices towards sustainability. First because the majority of their customer base does not consider (yet) sustainability as a mandatory attribute and second because is not always easy and cost-effective in the models they have established to change processes, suppliers and practices. As Kloters is a startup we have worked to embed sustainability in each step follow to make our products.

How do you see the RepAir t-shirt lining up against the hundreds of other sustainable fashion garments on the market?

Fashion is a very crowded market and sustainable fashion is becoming more and more crowded too. We believe that RepAir changes the game of sustainable fashion, as it not only minimizes the impact on environment created by its production and life cycle, but actively contributes to clean environment from pollution produced by others. We think it is a revolutionary concept and we hope it will gain scale as the network effect or, as we call it, the Sharing Ecology can have a massive impact. Each of us wears everyday a few square meters of fabric. If we could cover just a part of it with materials like the Breath, the insert used for RepAir t-shirt, the positive impact on pollution could be significant.>

Why does Kloters prioritize sustainability, and what does sustainability mean to you?

Sustainability is fundamental to our purpose: we want to make people who wear Kloters feeling good. To achieve this we strive to make everything we produce comfortable, stylish and sustainable. In fact we believe one, to feel good, has to feel well in his clothes, to look great but also to know that his good feeling was not reached at the expense of other individuals or of the planet. We embedded comfort, style and sustainability in our manifesto and we continuously work to improve along those 3 attributes .

What can everyday consumers do to get involved in the ethical fashion movement?

Get informed. If you really want to wear sustainable clothing today you have a great choice and variety. Prices in many cases are also getting more affordable. However, because sustainable fashion is getting its hype, there are also brands that are trying to surf the wave with little content. Stay informed, do your due-diligence and do not buy more than you need. At the end of the day the most sustainable choice as a consumer, is to buy just what you need at the time you need.

Find out more at repair.kloters.com