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Industry Talk

Outerknown and Aquafil aim to raise awareness about ocean waste ahead of Earth Day

Outerknown brand, founded by world champion surfer, Kelly Slater, has released a video about the ocean waste and its impact on marine life.

19th April 2016

Innovation in Textiles
 |  San Francisco, CA

Sustainable, Sports/​Outdoor, Clothing/​Footwear

Ahead of the Earth Day, which takes place on 22 April, Outerknown has released a video to raise awareness about the ocean waste and its impact on marine life.

"As our partnership continues to grow, so does Outerknown’s position as a leader in sustainable fashion," said Giulio Bonazzi, CEO of Aquafil. "By choosing ECONYL nylon, Outerknown is intentionally structuring their supply chain to help divert global waste from landfills and oceans – and taking an important stand on this very pressing global issue."

Abandoned fishing nets

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimate that there are more than 640,000 tons of abandoned fishing nets in the oceans, which are often responsible for the accidental capture of whales, turtles, birds and other marine life.

The World Wildlife Fund estimates that nearly 1,000 whales, porpoises and dolphins die every day in nets and fishing gear. The collaboration between Outerknown and Aquafil’s Econyl brand aims to address this problem.

Recycling and production

To make Econyl, recovered fishing nets from around the world are collected and combined with other discarded nylon waste materials including industrial components, nylon fabrics and the fluff from used carpeting, and send to the Econyl Regeneration System in Slovenia, where they are converted into new nylon polymers.

These polymers are then spun into high quality Econyl nylon thread and shipped to Outerknown’s global supply chain where the thread is woven into first-grade nylon textiles used in Outerknown boardshorts. Econyl brand nylon is said to offer the same quality and performance as traditionally manufactured nylon and can be recycled an infinite number of times without any loss in quality, according to the manufacturer.

Design and development

“My experience as a designer is having a vision and doing everything possible to make it come to life usually within a six-month window from idea to the market,” said Outerknown Creative Director, John Moore.

“However, with Outerknown we made a decision to lead with sustainability from day one, questioning the ingredients we’re building our products with and challenging the way they are made. This means a much more disciplined creative process that starts with the raw materials and abides by our code-of-conduct the entire way.”

“Outerknown has stringent requirements for the environment, worker protection and animal welfare. So in many ways, I feel like I am learning how to design all over again. In order to bring our trunks and jackets to the market with Econyl nylon, I start my planning process 18 months ahead of our products being available. It’s a much slower and considered design and development cycle. It takes a lot of patience and perseverance.”


The two brands announced their partnership in summer 2015. Outerknown’s first collection launched on 15 July 2015 and featured the Evolution Series jackets and boardshorts made with Econyl brand regenerated nylon yarns.

“Our partnership with Outerknown was born out of a shared vision and ambition for sustainable change,” said Giulio Bonazzi, CEO of Aquafil. “Outerknown came to us with the goal of manufacturing nylon products that were not only made entirely of regenerated materials, but that would be endlessly regenerative without any loss in quality. This goes beyond the typical use of recycled materials and puts Outerknown on the cutting edge of sustainable fashion.”

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