Sustainable fabrics in bike wear
My name is Rob, I’m the founder of Grn Bikewear, seen with my team in the photo below. I’m an avid cyclist and triathlete, and have been competing for the last 5 years in all sorts of competitions, ranging from 10k time trials up to Ironman triathlons and ultra-marathons. My professional background is in Environmental Science and Sustainability. So I’ve always been very aware that the clothing that I was racing in was less than perfect in terms of the sustainability of the fabrics as is the treatment of the workers in the supply chain too.
£15 for a jersey?
How we, as consumers, can realistically expect to pay £15 for a jersey is beyond me, when you consider the process that has gone into making that item of clothing:
- Drilling and recovery of oil (often from hundreds of metres underground or below the seabed)
- Transport it to a refinery
- Refine it to isolate the right chemicals
- Create a polymer
- Transport this to a yarn factory
- Draw out a yarn and knit this into a fabric
- Transport this to a clothing factory
- Cut, print and sew the garment together (including zips, gripper tape, high vis, etc)
- Transport it from the other side of the world to the UK
- Sell it for a profit ... … …
Locally sourced sustainable fabrics
I started Grn Bikewear with my business partners in April 2014, to try to do things a bit differently. A bit “better” than the gear that’s currently available on the market. Without wanting to sound too clichéd we don’t believe that sportswear should cost the earth.
So we set out with the aim of using locally sourced sustainable fabrics (recycled plastic bottles, fishing nets, etc) and using British manufacture to create a high performing, sustainably and ethically made range of cycling clothing.
We’ve found some great fabrics for our jerseys and cycling shorts. We’re expanding our range to cover the triathlon disciplines and have also started providing bespoke teamwear for teams such as the Dulux bike team (below) wearing their Grn bikewear kit.
Help to identify other sources of fabrics
The availability of sustainable fabrics for our gear is fairly limited. We wanted help to make sure we can find the right materials to use in our expanding range. The Innovation Voucher from Innovate UK will be used to commission work to:
- Identify other sources of fabrics that we’re not aware of
- Identify gaps in the market that we can try to help fill through R&D
What’s next for Grn Bikewear?
We’re about to launch a new website, and over the next few months (with help from Innovate UK!) we’ll be completing our range of high performance, sustainable clothing for the triathlon disciplines. Our goal is to become the largest teamwear supplier in the UK.
You can follow us on Twitter @innovateuk and see our YouTube channel here