Pentatonic's take on the potential of fashion waste
Words Vilma Paasivaara
In the heart of Paris, a new fashion pop-up has opened its doors, but there are no clothes. Instead, there are chairs and empty hangers. We spoke to the founders of Pentatonic about their newest collection…
Pentatonic, the innovative sustainable furniture company, launches their new collection in the heart of Marais, Paris. New Clothes is a fresh line of homeware which is made entirely out of fashion waste collected from around Europe. There are chairs, tables, hangers, plush cushions, and other accessories in the collection which are all made from recycled polyester. Parts of the line are produced at scale but others are designed with hand curated and crafted bespoke pieces.
Pentatonic launched last year as a joint venture between its co-founders Johann Bödecker and Jamie Hall. For a company that is less than a year, old they have a lot of momentum. They have partnered up with the like of Snarkitecture as well as with some of the biggest brands (and waste creators) of the world, like Starbucks. The aim is simple, to encourage and facilitate a fully circular economy and production that uses waste as its material – without pointing fingers but through positive change. ‘We’re not the guys to say “You’re all sinners and shame on you and you’re all wasteful”, but actually saying let’s all think about this in a fun way and look at how one material or product can go on to be something else,’ Jamie says.
New Clothes is a perfect embodiment of Pentatonic’s ethos. Fast fashion is creating increasing amounts of waste material around the globe and New Clothes turns that into usable, contemporary products. They also want to raise awareness of how important tackling this problem is. ‘Per year, the tonnage of PET created is twice as much from the fashion industries than it is from the bottled water industry,’ Johan explains, ‘There is also twice as much polyester used by the fashion industry than the bottle industry. So even if you recycle all the water bottles you haven’t even solved the supply problem for fashion.’ Placing their pop-up in the fashion capital of the world was no coincidence Johann and Jamie say.
As with all of their other collections, the goal is not only to recycle waste into a new product but that their products are entirely recyclable themselves. In fact, Pentatonic buys back all of their products and because of their molecular makeup, they are easily recycled again. The products’ designs also support a longer lifecycle as their modular build allows the same parts to be used in different ways. ‘You could turn your dining table into a part of a sofa, trade back the other components and just buy the extra components you need to complete the sofa,’ Johann explains. The key is also that their products are reproducible on a scale that would allow them to replace their less sustainable counterparts in people’s homes. ‘We are essentially presenting here two methodologies; we are presenting curation and craft and being quite literal with the fun. We are also presenting the future, that is all about technology. It’s not just about the form as we know, it is about the molecule as we know it,’ Jamie says.
Previously Pentatonic has created glassware out of smartphone screens, jewellery out of cigarette buds, and phone cases out of rice husks. With New Clothes, they want to be able to take this mass of waste material and turn it into a wider range of homeware. They’ve partnered up with a range of manufacturers, ranging from aerospace and automobile manufacturers to luxury textile mills, to showcase the seemingly infinite versatility of their chosen raw material. Though they are showcasing a complex technological solution to a serious environmental issue Jamie says it was important to do it in a fun and intriguing way. ‘For us, it’s really a celebration of how much potential there is working with fabric waste.’