Upcycling Textiles & Clothing Into New Items: A Case Study
Ever wondered how we repurpose retired clothing and textiles into bags and travel accessories? For those unfamiliar with the concept of upcycling, it's an evolved form of reuse that involves converting discarded objects or materials into something of equal or greater value.
Our goal is to create systems for upcycling materials at a larger scale so we can maximize our environmental impact. So when Delta Air Lines proposed a partnership with the goal of repurposing and finding new use for over a decade's worth of clothing and retired uniforms, we were thrilled to take on the challenge.
The logistics of this massive undertaking is a story unto itself; for this post we'll focus on the process of reimagining retired materials as new products and travel accessories that could live on as momentos of Delta's heritage.
After receiving and sorting a sampling of retired uniforms and other materials from Delta, we began with a brainstorm with the team to come up with ideas for a unique collection of products that would be useful for travelers. It's followed by sketching out ideas and even more brainstorming.
After the sketch is solidified and the creative team has decided that they would like to move forward, the conversation moves on to the materials themselves.
The Delta Messenger Bag is a great example of how we utilized the materials provided to us in order to repurpose the retired uniforms and give these textiles a second life.
A Delta Air Lines Black Trench Coat was dismantled and reconfigured to become the face of the Messenger bag, taking advantage of its water resistant DWR coating.
Red Delta suiting and dresses make up inner surface materials and give the bag its sharp, signature look.
To fully take advantage of the discarded materials from Delta, the remainder of the Messenger Bag body is constructed from repurposed leather seat covers from actual Delta Air Lines seats.
This leather element adds a sturdy structural component to the bag while also assisting with its durability. This theme of repurposing remains present throughout the Delta Air Lines collection, as we intend to fully utilize the materials provided to us to efficiently minimize waste.
Thanks to this repurposing program, 350,000 lbs. of retired textiles have been diverted from landfills, where they would decompose and release harmful methane gas into the atmosphere. The Delta Upcycle Project is one of the largest single company textile diversion programs in US history to date, and we are honored to collaborate with Delta Air Lines to bring the fruits of our labor to you.
For further reading about the efforts involved to collect a decade's worth of company uniforms undertaken by Delta Air Lines, click here.
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