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with movers and shakers

24th March 2020, Denmark

Interview with Daniel Chabert Pfefferkorn - founder of sustainable sportswear brand Rockay

© Rockay.© Rockay.

Young Danish entrepreneur and ultra-marathoner Daniel Chabert Pfefferkorn has created a fully sustainable sportswear brand called Rockay, from his passion for running. We sat down with Daniel to try to find out more about his journey.

Innovation in Textiles (IiT): Daniel, can you tell us how it all began and what it was that inspired you to launch Rockay?

Daniel Chabert Pfefferkorn (DCP): I ran my first marathon when I was 16 years old. Ever since, running is part of my daily life. I was never really satisfied with the quality of the socks that I was wearing on my runs, both shorter and longer ones. I didn’t like the fact that I would end my races with so many blisters. Most of the socks were not durable enough. I would end up buying yet another pair of them every now and then. The compression socks, in particular, were always too hot and I had no easy way with post-run recovery.

All these features that I experienced myself inspired me to start my own brand with performance socks with determination to produce the best performance running socks on the market. The journey was not easy, but I had a team of young running enthusiasts, designers, and athletes who were equally inspired by this project as I was.

© Rockay.© Rockay.

However, I didn’t want to launch yet another sports apparel brand that will foster fast fashion and overconsumption. I wanted my products to be durable and sustainable. During my travels to Brazil and Australia, among other countries, I witnessed all the plastic waste thrown around our beaches. It’s horrifying to see that much human-caused pollution.

I worked tirelessly with my team to address ocean pollution and contribute to the global sustainability movement. This is where we started to research sustainable fabrics, choosing partner companies that collect plastic waste from the ocean with transparent traceability. This is how we launched the first collection of 100% recycled socks.

IiT: You say that what separates you from other successful entrepreneurs is that you launched a collection of 100% recycled performance socks that clean our oceans. How did you do that and how long did it take? Did you have a textiles industry background?

DCP: I had no background in the textile industry. It was a team effort to thoroughly research the market, ask questions, get on the calls, visit the fabrics until we found the best solution for our sustainable endeavours.

It took us about a year before we launched the first socks type ever in early 2018 - the Accelerate running socks. Our team put hours, days and months into research, design, testing, perfecting and testing again before we were confident enough to release it.

© Rockay.© Rockay.

IiT: You say that in the age of severe climate changes and environmental pollution, you strive to provide a different solution and contribute to solving this global problem. Can you expand on this please?

DCP: We’re constantly seeing reports and case studies from major environmental organizations about the huge amounts of plastic waste thrown in the oceans every year, abandoned fishing nets and dangerous liquids from the fashion and other industries that endanger our marine life and threaten the entire ecosystem. We have to stop this negative trend and do something about it if want our planet to thrive.

We decided to join the global sustainability movement and spread the message about alternative ways of fashion and shopping. Rockay is an advocate for slow fashion, recycling, and ethical manufacturing. Our socks are partially produced from recycled fishing nets that are retrieved from our oceans. Other materials include recycled polyamide and recycled elastane.

IiT: Your products are available online and shipped worldwide. Rockay Performance Socks are made from ECONYL regenerated nylon, a product that you say is a final result of recycling ocean waste, fishing nets, and landfill fabrics. We are familiar with Econyl, but can you tell us more about the whole supply chain? Where are the socks produced and are your yarns designed to reduce microfibre shedding to prevent further pollution?

DCP: Rockay partners with an Italian company called Aquafil. Their expert team handles the entire process of collecting ocean waste. They have a whole network of fishermen around the world who collect abandoned fishing nets and other waste. Aquafil is one of the industry leaders in this field. They have transparent traceability, which was extremely important for us. For the upcoming apparel collection, we work with Seaqual too. They collect plastic from the ocean.

Once collected, this waste is sorted, cleaned and recycled into nylon pellets, and eventually, yarn. The final product is 100% regenerated nylon yarn called Econyl. Then, we give this yarn to our manufacturer in Lithuania and they produce the final product.

As for the microfibers, all fibres lose tiny particles in the water system when they are washed. This problem is affecting the whole fibre world, although continuous filament fibres (like ECONYL that we’re using) are less problematic than staple fibres. Having said this, we are fully aware of the problem and are following the studies on this issue.

Our manufacturer uses a central air suction, so all of the stray fibres from the sock factory are all suctioned and condensed/packaged and recycled into home/auto interiors, such as cushioning.

We also use advanced Swedish anti-odour technology that’s added onto the yarn. This means that one can wear our socks more and wash them fewer times. Consequently, less washing cycles reduce environmental damage and the release of microfibers. Thanks to this technology, our socks can simply be left to dry and they are ready for use again and again, without washing.

Solutions at washing machine producers level seem to be the most effective way. In fact, by using special filters, it could be easier to detect and filter the microplastic before the water is released in the environment.

© Rockay.

© Rockay.​

IiT: You say that whoever chooses to wear Rockay socks “helps clean our Oceans and contributes to the global sustainability movement.” Yes ok, using recycled yarns created from plastics collected from the oceans is great but aren’t you just encouraging more consumption? How durable are your products and what happens when they wear out?

DCP: The key with consumption and our socks is that we don’t want people to buy more. We want them to consider sustainable choices and buy less but more durable products. This is exactly how we craft our socks: to be durable and sustainable. To verify the confidence in our product quality and durability, we offer a lifetime guarantee on all our products.

Should holes appear on our Rockay socks, a customer needs to send them back to us for inspection, and then afterwards, we send a new pair for free.

IiT: “Thanks to an advanced Swedish technology called Polygiene, Rockay socks also remain odour-free, resulting in wearing more and washing less, further increasing Rockay's eco-credentials,” you say. We are familiar with Polygiene, but do you have any data on wash frequency for your products?

Polygiene suggests that you start out skipping every other wash you would normally do. For example, if you wash socks once a week you could wash them every other week. This would save on water and prolong the life of you sock.

We encourage our consumers, however, to see how long they go as long as they lay their sweaty socks to hang dry between uses, they could wear them 7 days in a row before wanting to wash them.

Download Rockay New Collection Fact Sheet

www.rockay.com

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