In Singapore, about 900 million kilograms of plastic waste is discarded every year, and only four per cent of this is recycled.
It’s not just plastic that’s being discarded at astronomical rates. Last year, more than 156,000 tonnes of textile and leather waste was thrown away by Singaporeans, with only eight per cent of such waste being recycled.
In recent years, more conversations sparked around whether more could be done to reduce Singaporeans’ reliance on single-use plastics, and create a more sustainable nation overall.
There has also been debates revolving around the rise of fast fashion, a term used to describe mass production of apparel at extremely low costs, which inevitably brings harm to the environment.
Homegrown brand Outfyt aims to address both problems with its sustainable activewear.
The brand incorporates sustainable materials such as ECONYLⓇ regenerated nylon with technology to make pieces that can last 10 times longer than normal activewear.
Vulcan Post spoke to Outfyt founder Stephanie Colhag Yeo MacGregor to find out how she started a fully sustainable and stylish activewear brand.
Creating activewear out of fishing nets
Stephanie told Vulcan Post that she had always loved wearing activewear both in and out of the gym. Back then, the style she was looking for was hard to find, which is why she decided to create her own brand to fill the gap.
She then founded Outfyt in 2016, and it started off as a side brand while she was working full time in the F&B industry.
Being half Swedish, majority of Stephanie’s pieces are influenced by Scandinavian design. They are marked by a focus on clean, simple lines, minimalism, and functionality without sacrificing beauty.
Outfyt’s ethical and sustainable approach also stems from the Scandinavian culture of having great respect for their environment and its inhabitants.
“We deeply value nature and spending time outdoors so it was a very natural step for us to take this route of being a sustainable brand,” said Stephanie.
Currently, all Outfyt’s designs are made from ECONYL® Regenerated Nylon. It is made by recovering nylon waste — such as fishing nets from the oceans and aquaculture, fabric scraps from mills and carpets destined for landfill — and turning it into virgin quality nylon yarn.
It’s exactly the same as brand new nylon and it can be recycled, recreated and remoulded again and again.
The ECONYL® Regenerated Nylon is then blended with LYCRA® XTRA LIFE™ fibre, a unique technology that makes fashion tougher so it can fight against fading and hold its shape wear after wear.
This fibre technology is designed to provide a long-lasting fit and resist degradation from chlorinated water, the heat, and sunscreen lotions up to 10 times longer than unprotected fabrics.
The ECONYL® Regeneration System starts with rescuing waste, like fishing nets, fabric scraps, carpet flooring and industrial plastic from landfills and oceans all over the world. That waste is then sorted and cleaned to recover all of the nylon possible.
Through a radical regeneration and purification process, the nylon waste is recycled right back to its original purity. That means ECONYL® regenerated nylon is exactly the same as virgin nylon.
ECONYL® regenerated nylon is processed into carpet yarn and textile yarn for the fashion and interior industries.
Outfyt believes that circular design is the future and using ECONYL® is its first step on that journey.
Making a change to becoming sustainable takes a lot of research to make sure that new suppliers are ethical and not green-washing. Outfyt took a full year to make the switch from being a conventional retailer to being sustainable. Being strategic with written plans and targets helped us reach our goals making changes step by step.Stephanie Colhag Yeo MacGregor, Founder of Outfyt
Besides the materials used in their activewear pieces, Outfyt’s packaging and manufacturing processes are all ethical and sustainable as well.
The brand’s fabric manufacturer is based in Italy, and is committed to saving energy, reducing carbon dioxide emissions, and recycling waste.
Due to their cutting-edge fumes treatment plant, they prevented 2,425,000 kg of carbon dioxide from being released into the environment in 2019. This is equivalent to the amount of emissions produced by cars if they were to go round the world 530 times.
Furthermore, 99 per cent of the waste they produce is recycled and reused, so the equivalent of the content of 160 garbage trucks avoids ending up in the landfill.
To add on, at Outfyt’s clothing manufacturer in Indonesia, employees are paid well over the minimum wage monitored by the Indonesian Manpower Department with decent working hours.
Outfyt also ships out its products in eco-friendly Hero Packaging mailers that are 100 per cent home compostable, but also made from materials like cornstarch and cassava roots, allowing them to break down without any waste.
More than just an activewear brand
Currently, Outfyt’s sports bras and crop tops with in-built sports bras are very popular and Stephanie is looking to expand the collections and launch new ones more frequently.
Besides producing sustainable items, Stephanie also aims to create designs that flatter the female body and make the wearer feel confident while wearing them.
Furthermore, when purchasing from Outfyt, customers are not only buying into a sustainable ecosystem, but also giving back to the environment.
With every purchase made at Outfyt, one per cent of proceeds will be donated to Healthy Seas. This donation will go towards cleaning the seas, saving marine wildlife, preventing future pollution, and recycling resources.
The fishnets collected by Healthy Seas divers and fishermen are brought into the ECONYL® regeneration system, where they are transformed into new, high-quality yarn which Outfyt uses for all its collections.
However, despite how far the brand has come in terms of sustainability, Stephanie shares that the journey has not been easy.
Building a sustainable brand is tough, especially for conventional companies trying to make a shift. It could mean having to build a totally new target market and changing prices, suppliers and processes.
This can be very costly or detrimental to the original business concept. Hence, when making a change to be sustainable, Stephanie and her team had to conduct a lot of research to make sure that new suppliers were ethical and not green-washing.
Educating customers was also a challenge.
“One of the major challenges we face is competing with fast fashion brands that produce really cheap activewear and educating on why fast fashion is bad,” said Stephanie.
In the long run, she hopes to be able to expand into new markets, and even create Outfyt’s own sustainable materials. “We hope to be known as more than just an activewear brand,” she added.
You can now shop Outfyt’s sustainable products on VP Label:
Featured Image Credit: Outfyt