7. Freitag

For creating a revolutionary and sustainable alternative to cotton.

The comparative elder statesmen of the circular economy - Swiss brothers Markus and Daniel Freitag invented their eponymous brand back in 1993 when they created the waterproof, heavy-duty messenger bag they wanted, but couldn’t find anywhere, using old truck tarpaulin, second-hand car seat–belt webbing and an old bicycle inner tube. The business now employs 150 people to produce around 350,000 products a year and is stocked in over 460 stores.

So why are we featuring them now, in 2015?  Because the Freitag brothers have set their sights on a new challenge - this time, not by reusing existing materials, but by reinventing the way we produce textiles from scratch. After looking for a fabric to make clothes for their employees, and finding, yet again, that what they needed didn’t exist, the brothers embarked on a five year journey to invent their own locally produced, compostable fabric - which they have dubbed F-abric.

Created by blending linen, hemp and modal (from beech trees), F-abric is made from natural crops that require much less land and water than is needed to produce cotton, and are all available in Europe. In fact all production stages, from the growing of the crops to the sewing of final garment, all take place within 2500-kilometer radius of the Freitag factory in Zurich - demonstrating a more sustainable model for the textile industry as a whole.

The simple, functional, workwear inspired F-abric clothing range is designed to be completely compostable when garments reach the end of their use – all the materials used (including the thread) are biodegradable except the metal buttons which can be unscrewed and reused. Launched at the end of last year, the collection is currently available in Freitag’s outlets as well as online, and is priced at the premium end of the market (at 65 euros for a t-shirt) but, based on their previous success we expect that this is just the beginning.