Spiritgirl Active Wear, a South African brand, uses recycled polyethylene terephthalate bottles to create fun, yoga wear. Founded by Leigh Sarembock and Rochele le Roux in November 2015, they have captured the hearts and minds of many an eco-warrior yoga lover. In this Q&A, they tell us more.
How your business started and why? We wanted to quit the corporate world to grow our dream to start a business incorporating our a passion for nature, yoga, surf, skating and design. We saw a gap in the market for funky, uniquely designed leggings for the eco-conscious woman. We found the perfect recycled fabric that has a four-way stretch, is light weight, wicks from moisture and has UV protection. The four-way stretch fabric gives you complete freedom of movement, while the design hugs the curves of your body.
What is the manufacturing process ? Recycled PET makes up the bulk of the fabric. Unlike polyester, recycled polyester uses PET as the raw material. This is the same material that is used in clear plastic water bottles, and recycling it to create the fabric prevents it from going to landfill. The steps involved in the production process are as follows: The collected PET bottles are sterilized, dried and crushed into small chips; the chips are heated and passed through a spinneret to form strings of yarn; this yarn is wound up in spools; the fibre is then passed through a crimping machine to create a fluffy wooly texture, this yarn is then baled, dyed and knitted into polyester fabric.
Energy needed to make the PET is less than what is needed to make the virgin polyester in the first place, so we save energy. Diverting PET bottles for this process reduces landfill, and thus less soil contamination, air and water pollution.
Is the fabric and clothing made in SA? Not the fabric, but the design, cutting, sewing and printing is all done in Cape Town.
How many bottles of plastic does it take to make one pair of yoga pants? 23
Tell us about the Spandex content. Spandex makes up 21% of the garment, however this not made of recycled plastic bottles.
What about the dye? While we are not certain you can label them “eco-dyes” the dyes used are safe and not in any way harmful. Amazingly, the technique used results in minimum waste as no dye will get into our water systems – something which happens with many other dyeing processes.
What was your background before this business? Leigh and I met working at an events company eight years ago as event managers and coincidentally both studied graphic design.
Does your business only operate online? Yes, apart from the occasional festival and pop up stores. We also hope to do some international yoga festivals in the year to come.
For more information: www.spiritgirl.co.za