In November 2009 Fioen van Balgooi came up with the idea to make a C2C inspired raincoat. “There wasn’t any C2C coat that was truly water resistant yet. That seemed like a challenge to me, because most raincoats that are water resistant have toxic coatings. Besides that I wanted to make something that could be brought to market through a production chain.”
After contacting Dutch Spirit, the project could be realised. Dutch Spirit dealt with the product development. The project also fitted perfectly into the C2C project of the Brabandse Mulieufederatie (Environment Association Brabant) and the Milieufederatie Limburg (Environment Association Limburg).
We researched many textile possibilities, including impregnated organic cotton, Tencel, a Cradle to Cradle Polypropene with Greenshield coating, but these did not give the desired result on ecological, economical and social/cultural grounds. Eventually Dutch Spirit, cooperating with manufacturer Backhausen, developed a new fabric based on the interior fabric Returnity from this manufacturer. This textile is flame retardant and does not contain a toxic coating. Together with the manufacturer we succeeded in weaving the fabric tighter with lighter thread, which improved the flexibility of the fabric compared to the stiff interior fabric and reduced water permeability. But even this closely weaved fabric wasn’t water resistant enough. With an (still experimental) environmentally friendly coating that Dutch Spirit, Backhausen and a third party developed, the fabric eventually became fully suitable for a raincoat.
It is also easy to separate the coat for recycling. The coat is not glued with interlining, like usually happens, but is only stitched, so the lining and the outer fabric can be easily separated. At the moment the lining is common viscose, but our short-term aim is to also produce the lining using Returnity fabric.
Really unique is the closure of the raincoat. This consists of buttons that will not be stitched onto the coat, but can be ‘clicked’ into the fabric. Because of this the button, which is an invention of Dutch Spirit, can be easily removed for recycling (in contrast with velcro, zippers and regular buttons). The consumer can also swap the button and customize the coat this way. By using a 3-layer closure system for the female raincoat, the closure will be windproof.
After the development of a Returnity suit jacket in 2010 Dutch Spirit closed the whole recycling chain. Together with several partners a closed system of return, transport and upgrading has been put together. The raincoat can now be added to this system. In the future more products will be added. All Returnity textiles used in these products can be recycled through Backhausen. This way a new current of raw materials for new products will appear and the cycle will be complete.
Who is Dutch Spirit?
Photography Mark van Vugt, Models Edwin Verstraeten, Janine Karelse