The team of the label Blue Ben from Berlin, has developed the world’s first fair-produced, biode- gradable unisex sweater made of 100% wood. The fascinatingly soft “Blue Sweater” is completely cotton-free and not only saving 94% of the usual water used in manufacturing but giving water: 10% of the “Blue Sweater’s” sale finance reparations in regions suffering from the consequences of the worldwide fast fashion consumption. The development took the label 17 months. Now the first 1,000 “Blue Sweaters” are available in 4 color variants. After a first successful crowdfunding in spring 2018, a second, international funding round for new colors just started on November 6th on Kickstarter.
Our wardrobe is full of water: About 250,000 liters per capita hang in our wardrobe. The fashion in- dustry is the world’s biggest polluter after the oil industry. A single sweater, which requires about 300 grams of cotton, consumes up to 8,000 liters of water from cultivation to final production. In addition, production pollutes surrounding waters with dyes, chemicals and pesticides.
Blue Ben has created a modern piece of clothing which is produced without artificial irrigation, cotton, plastics, long transport routes and wage dumping. In addition, production takes place in Europe, from the raw material to the final product. The result: An innovative fabric made of 100% modal (beech wood), which was specially developed by the Berlin-based label and is spun, woven, dyed and tailored entirely in Portugal. Even the sewing thread used does not contain any polyester, such as the cuffs, which are usually made of petroleum-based elastane, Blue Ben replaced by the world’s only biodegradable organic elastane.
Blue Ben founder and CEO Ali Azimi has long been working in the fast fashion industry. At first hand, he became aware of the global problem of cotton: Its water consumption is estimated to be more than
210 billion m3 worldwide. The raw material is growing especially in regions where drinking water is already very scarce. Radical resource-saving alternatives, on the other hand, have not yet existed in the fair fashion sector: The idea for Blue Ben as a responsible fashion label was born. Within 17 months, Azimi and a growing team of experts, developed a garment that combines good conscience and aesthetics and, unlike the traditional sweater, consumes only 247 liters of water – a saving of over 93%. This product has already attracted international interest and was nominated for this year’s Future Textile Award in the category Best Innovation: Sustainable Textiles that will be awarded on November 11th in Amsterdam.
Blue Ben uses 10% of the sales to pay reparations to countries that are affected most by the fast-fashion consumption of Western buyers. The first collection of “Blue Sweaters” is Made FOR Bangladesh and is dedicated specifically to the groundwater resources of this country. The first water treatment projects are just about to start in Bangladesh, in cooperation with the world’s biggest NGO BRAC and the specialized Bangladeshi NGO AGROHO. The goal: The implementation of water treat- ment plants to enable textile companies to purify the wastewater to the highest standards and to bring it back cleaned into the natural water cycle. In the course of the founding of Blue Ben, Ali Azimi and his team developed the project-accompanying NGO “Drip by Drip”. The organization educates about “water as a resource” intensively and addresses the fashion industry with alternatives – the modal material can also be obtained by other labels via Drip by Drip. Each “Blue Sweater” comes with a detachable patch that displays the coordinates of the funded water project.
The next stage in the realization of the young label’s vision starts with the second crowdfunding on November 6th, ending on December 5th, 2018 on the international platform Kickstarter. Funding goal is 20,200 €. The money will be used to produce new colors, to fund additional compostability tests and to support even more water treatment projects. During the crowdfunding a sweater costs be- tween 85,- and 125,- €. More clothes are planned.
We can also agree that the label’s sweaters would be an on trend savvy-conscience addition to the coolest eco-friendly person’s wardrobe.