In the loop with... Katie Walsh & The Re-Pete Project

We caught up with Katie Walsh, founder of the incredible circular fashion label, The Re-Pete Project (which creates timeless, high quality breathable outerwear entirely from recycled single-use plastic) to find out what drove her to launch the brand – and how The Circular Economy has influenced her life.

Tell us about The Repete Project… what’s the story behind its creation?

THE RE-PETE PROJECT is a circular fashion label which creates timeless, high quality, durable, unisex, waterproof yet breathable outerwear, starting with the Anorak. It is made entirely out of recycled single use plastic waste, and it is designed to be 100% recyclable - the anorak can be broken down, rewoven and remade like new - never ending on landfill, actively preventing plastic from landing in our oceans.

I'm a fashion designer. I studied in London, worked for Alexander McQueen before setting up my own internationally acclaimed labels which I ran for 8 years until I took time out to raise my family.

On my return to fashion I wanted to show people that great design does not have to be a compromise for the environment. I began researching extensively into how I could make a tangible difference to the planet through design when I learnt about The Circular Economy.

I choose to design out of single use plastics because I wanted to help with the ocean plastic crisis that is touching every corner of our planet.

Tell us a little bit more about your Circular Process?

Our anoraks are free from uncomplicated and unnecessary fastenings which make easy to recycle, each anorak is crafted using 29 recycled plastic bottles:

27 Recycled 0.5 Ltr PETE Bottles = Fabric made between Italy and Germany.

01 Recycled 0.5 Ltr PETE Bottle = Cord made in Holland.

01 Recycled 1 Ltr HDPE Bottle = Toggles handmade in Hackney from used milk bottles donated by local cafes.

At the end of each anoraks very long life it can be returned to us so it can be broken down, re-woven and remade like new in one of our northern European factories.

The circular process from The Re-Pete Project

What’s been the biggest challenge for you so far in setting up The Re-Pete Project? Have you encountered any setbacks?

Covid was a challenge with being a single mum in lockdown with 2 kids to home school, it was hard trying to get my head into the mind set of launching this whole new idea and business. And without the contact of friends and peers around you to bounce ideas off of it was a challenge keeping up momentum and focus for sure.

In terms of set backs, I needed to find a new factory for production as the one I had in France was working at a quarter of its capacity due to covid BUT I did find a great new factory who are such a pleasure to work it so yes, it was a set back in time but it worked out for the best!

And, what’s been the best thing so far?

The support from my partnerships! I came from a fashion background where people keep their contacts close to their chest but with sustainability, we are all doing this for a bigger reason, to make a real positive impact on the environment and it really is eco over ego! I love it! I'm sharing my findings also so that others have easy access to ecological suppliers too.

I wanted to show people that great design does not have to be a compromise for the environment. I began researching extensively into how I could make a tangible difference to the planet through design when I learnt about The Circular Economy.

From your own experience, how can the fashion industry embrace sustainability more wholeheartedly (and transparently)?

Follow the 3 rules of CIRCULAR ECONOMY.

01. Design and manufacture using waste product.
02. Keep products and materials in perpetual use.
03. Help regenerate natural ecosystems.

Also do what you are doing and embrace and create platforms selling and sharing secondhand clothes.

And what can we do as consumers to help? Any steps and advice for those wanting to make a difference to people and the planet.

Instead of buying shed loads of cheap clothes and products buy less well made items. Look for timeless, durable pieces at will last a lifetime and are made by properly paid workers and have a positive impact on the environment. Look out for circular where companies design and produce out of the waste we are choking on and put it to good use.

Buy second hand, there is SO much great clothes, furniture, electronics etc out there. I've always been a fan of vintage and charity shops, eBay, antique and flee markets and now there are whole new platforms launching making it even easier to find great pieces for a fraction of the price it would cost new.

How can parents embrace sustainability? Do you have any advice for new parents trying to make efforts to be more sustainable as a whole?

All the above! Also be waste conscious. Reward kids with time and hugs rather than gifts and material things. Get involved in local beach cleanups etc and make them feel empowered that they can make a difference to climate change by their actions to rather than it causing them fear and anxiety. It is a different world to what we grew up in and our responsibility to become more ethical and teach our children how to do so also.

Get involved with local beach cleanups!

What's next for you and The Re-Pete Project? Any sneak peeks you can share!

More beach cleanups! Come join us and check out dates on @therepeteproject. And in 2022 mini versions of our adult outerwear with one size lasting a kid for 5 years for maximum use and protection and of course fully circular! 🙂

More beach clean ups are on the cards for Katie and The Re-Pete Project team

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