As part of their Plan A 2025 sustainability plan, M&S are committed to a quarter of their clothing and home products being made using at least 25% recycled materials. The firm are constantly looking at ways to push boundaries and introduce new innovations within their fabrics, and for their winter collection they wanted to create a suit that not only included recycled wool, but also used some of the wool that customers have donated in stores through their Shwopping clothes recycling initiative with Oxfam.
For the past few years one of our fabric technology specialists, Tim Hoyle has been working on a project researching how best they could use the items customers have donated through Shwopping. His focus has been on how we can recycle the unwanted items and make this into new yarns and fabrics. He started by getting his insight and exploring the Shwopping process with Oxfam. Customers can Shwop their garments either through donating in an M&S Shwop Drop Box at an M&S store or directly into an Oxfam Shop. Not all Shwopping items are able to be resold by Oxfam Shops and those that aren’t are sent to Oxfam’s Wastesaver recycling centre in Batley, West Yorkshire. Here they are re-sorted, along with all the other garments that have been kindly donated to Oxfam, into those they can resell those they can recycle. M&S worked on a plan to get wool items that could not be resold to be sent to one of our fabric mills.
Having an established 25-year relationship with Nova Fides, a 50-year-old family-run mill based in Prato Italy with a rich heritage in recycled fabric which uses solar energy for electricity, it seemed the natural partner. The important thing for the M&S Team was designing a suit fabric that not only looked great but also included more responsibly sourced fibre.
M&S tell us: “We worked with Oxfam on a plan which saw sorted unsaleable wool items supplied directly to Nova Fides. Once there the garments are sorted into colour groups to reduce the need for extra dyeing. At this point a colour palette is produced giving the designers at the mill a base to work from to design the fabric styles. Once this has been decided, the garments go through a process where they are shredded back to fibres, and the usual spinning and weaving process follows. The fabric is then sent off to be crafted into the suit.
The result is a more responsibly sourced wool blend suit, made with 55% recycled wool, including wool recycled from Shwopped garments. The suit is a lightweight, tailored fit, single breasted suit that comes in charcoal, blue, navy, neutral and green, priced at £149. It is also available in a three piece option so it can be dressed up and down for different occasions.”