Tailor Konfektion is a clothing company that makes use of recycled plastics. The polyester, retrieved from PET bottles, saves 60 percent of the energy and 30 percent of the emissions compared to virgin material – with 6 percent of the water use.

Innovative thinking, recycling and sustainable development are core values for Borås-based clothing company Tailor Konfektion. In the business area B2B Profile, Tailor develops, markets and sells suits and stylish work wear, in large part made from polyester from recycled plastics.

”We are reducing the demand for virgin fossil-based plastics, and doing our part to make the oceans cleaner. Recycled plastics works just as well in clothing, and our customers and distributors applaud the initiative”, says Per Gyllunger, Sales Manager at Tailor Konfektion.

Plastic from PET bottles

Clothing with recirculated polyester reduces the environmental impact. Photo: Tailor Konfektion.

”We have many business and public sector customers, and it is apparent that sustainability is becoming more valued. The textile industry does not have the best reputation in that regard, and is often associated with a throwaway culture and resource mismanagement. Textiles often incorporate plastic materials, which are disputed on several grounds. We want to do good for the environment, as do our customers, and environmentally profiled work and profile wear has a lot of potential. Public contracts are definitely going to emphasize environmental impact in the future, and that gives us a competitive edge”, Per Gyllunger says.

”Our new product line is called REPEAT by Tailor. The fabric is made from a combination of NEWLIFE polyester from collected PET bottles, Virgin wool/Merinowool, and elastane stretch. The material is developed by the Italian company Miroglio, and Tailor has exclusivity rights to use the fabric in Sweden and Norway for a period of time. Certain details of the clothing, such as labels,  are also made from recycled materials; it is really just the linings that we have not yet been able to replace.”

”The REPEAT collection has several environmental advantages: the garments are designed to last, and thanks to a special manufacturing process, the jackets are washable. The process of extracting fibers from the recycled material has fewer steps than virgin polyester manufacturing; energy consumption is reduced by 60 percent, the carbon dioxide emissions are 30 percent lower, and it uses only six percent of the water”, Per says.

”Micro plastics in the environment is a burning issue. Since synthetic fabrics release micro particles when they are washed, it is relevant to examine whether recycled polyester behave differently in this regard. According to a new study conducted by Swerea, recycled polyester does not release more micro plastics”.

International award

”Tailor was nominated for the PSI Sustainability Awards  2017 in Wiesbaden, Germany, by the PSI fair in Dusseldorf, and won the  ”Most Recommended Product” award in the sustainable products category. We were both thrilled and honoured, and the recognition inspires us to become even better. We have strong faith in the environment-friendly profile wear, and the Liseberg amusement park in Gothenburg is about to switch to the REPEAT collection (through our customer Masterdesign)”, Per Gyllunger says.

The textile industry in Borås – rise, fall and renewal

Needlewomen at work, at Algots in Borås. Advertising postcard printed by the company in 1955.

Tailor Konfektion stems from a long textile and fashion industry tradition in and around Borås, Sweden. The company is owned by the Johansson family, which produces all the Tailor garments through the Gote David Teko company. The family built the clothing giant Algots and ran it for generations. The rise, fall and renewal of the Swedish textile and fashion industry is an interesting piece of corporate history, and the recirculated polyester profile wear is a tangible sign of the industry’s renewal, driven by smart textiles.

The city of Borås was founded by the Viskan creek in 1621. The agricultural production was deficient, and people were taking up side-line jobs and producing crafts to supplement their income. In the 19th century, the city’s great leap forward was made possible by cheap US cotton imports, which soon replaced linen as the most important material. In 1834, the first mechanical cotton weaving mill was established in Rydboholm, outside Borås. In place of hand weavers working from their homes, power looms operated by factory workers could now produce cotton textiles in large quantities. Many more mills soon followed suit, and a blooming textile industry grew in the Borås area. Thanks to the demand for labour, the population of Borås increased tenfold between 1860 and 1920.

The clothing industry entered the scene in the early 20th century. Earlier, most garments were sewn by women in their homes, or by local tailors. Companies such as Oscar Jacobsson AB and Algots (founded by Algot Johansson) now began selling ready-made work clothes. At first, the clothes were still sewn by work at home seamstresses, but in 1929, Algots developed industrial assembly line processes. After the Second World War, the company had established itself as the flagship of the Swedish fashion industry, and Borås was the heart of Swedish textile and clothing manufacture.

In the 1950s, the Swedish textile industry started to lose momentum – and twenty years later, it was in crisis. Production in Sweden was not competitive any more, and factory after factory had to shut down. Borås relied on an industry that had been all but obliterated, and in 30 years, 30 000 jobs were lost. Some of the old companies could survive by keeping only design, development and marketing in Borås, and new were established – but the production was outsorced to foreign countries to reduce cost.

When the Swedish School of Textiles was founded in 1996, it constituted a milestone in the textile history of Borås. Ten years later, the research environment and innovation cluster Smart Textiles was established. The Swedish School of Textiles have the right to offer post-graduate studies, and future materials technology is one of the important research domains. Much revolves around textile recycling and sustainability, and in 2014, one of the Smart Textile projects presented the world’s first dress made from recycled cotton (read more in the article ”Discarded clothes: a new lease on life”).

The article was published in June 2018.