Regenerated wool: a way to save the planet

Floods, rising sea levels, melting glaciers: the risks to the world from climate change are now in plain sight for everyone, and that is why it is becoming increasingly important to reduce waste in the textile industry, starting from regenerated wool.

Recycled wool, like cotton, is the virtuous product of ancient practices. Since the end of the nineteenth century, those practices were already used in Italy, within the textile district of Prato, close to Florence.

Can shrunken wool be restored?

How convenient is regenerated wool, in terms of environmental impact?

Why do we need to start our trip to Italy?

Let’s cast a glance over one of the most eco-friendly industries realities on the planet: the regenerated fiber industry.

The Prato textile district, next to Florence, Italy

Sometimes the solution comes from the past: this is what the textile district of Prato teaches us, where our company Comistra has been recycling old wool fabrics since 1920. This is a small area next to the Florence area, surrounded by gentle hills and vineyards (note that “Prato” means “lawn” in the Italian language).

Here in our Comistra factory, we welcome every day several trucks full of old clothes.

Over 80% of those clothes are brought back to life into regenerated wool, spun, and then woven into jumpers, scarves, blankets, and covers. These garments are quality, long-lasting fibers made of 100% eco-wool.

In ancient times, working people called cenciaioli were responsible for collecting old clothes. Carrying a cart, house to house, they would clamor for the “cenci”, the old rags that had reached the end of their life cycle. Even back then, this waste was destined to become a new resource.

Our grandparents may not have been familiar with the concept of eco-fashion, but they were already clear about the concept of reducing waste.

Today we have the bins for textile waste, then the first sorting companies that send only suitable garments for regeneration/recycling to our factory in Comistra. And so, one lorry at a time, for over a hundred years we have been sorting garments by color and then the delicate process of wool carbonization, tearing, and finishing.

Not many people are aware of the fact that from old rags comes a completely new fabric, often better than the previous one, which is already being distributed to the best fashion showcases around the world.

Regenerated wool: a reduced environmental impact

Compared to the production of virgin wool, regenerated wool has a lower environmental impact, for two main reasons:

1) New regenerated wool garments are not dyed, as is the case with wool produced for the first time. This means saving water, CO2, but above all soaking and treatment with new dyes. How is this possible? Simply by taking advantage of the color that the old clothes already have!

2) Regenerated wool is more environmentally friendly because it does not involve the intensive use of hundreds of hectares of land for grazing and sheep farming. It is also somewhat respectful of animal rights.

Slow fashion and regenerated wool

But there is another reason why regenerated wool or mechanical wool is an extremely environmentally friendly solution. It’s a matter of vision: all around us, the fast fashion industry produces poor quality garments, with mixed and often synthetic fabrics, generally destined to last only a short time and be replaced the next season.

At Comistra we simply believe in slow fashion. Here, the individual wool garment is made with standard high quality, and this allows longer life and easier regeneration once the garment has passed by.

This is not just an industrial choice: it is a vision, a long-term project.

The result of this vision is undoubtedly a win in environmental terms, but also a reduction in animal and human exploitation. In fact, fast fashion also means relocation of labor to emerging countries, where living and working conditions are often intolerable.

Regenerated wool is sustainable in many different ways. This is why it is an asset for the future of our planet.

“Why do we make an entirely recycled garment? Because we think there is virtuosity in closing the circle of the circular economy.”
(Fabrizio Tesi, CEO of Comistra)