Redesigning Fashion Industry with Circular Technology

Permaculture Magazine
Wednesday, 15th May 2019

UK fashion team, Rapanui, is launching t-shirts made from worn out organic t-shirts, designed to be remade again and again. The aim is to show that the fashion industry doesn't need to be wasteful.

Fashion / tech business, Rapanui, on the Isle of Wight, is launching t-shirts made from worn out organic t-shirts and designed to come back to be remade again and again. Customers can buy products or start their own brand selling their own custom prints for free using Teemill’s systems. Teemill hopes that open source and circularity will lead to rapid change in the fashion industry, and it’s the first time this has been done.

Over 100 billion items of clothing are made per year, and yet a truck full of textiles is burned or buried in landfill every second. Current projections indicate that the linear clothing industry, which takes resources and creates waste at a furious pace, will more than triple by 2050. By using modern technologies like AI to maximise the efficiency of the supply chain, products made by Teemill are printed in a renewable energy-powered factory in real time -  seconds after they are ordered. There is no unsold stock. 

“Slowing down fast fashion won't fix it, but when we took material people normally throw away at the end and made new products from it at the start, it changed everything. What is needed is the technology to make the reverse logistics of fashion possible and economical. That’s exactly what we’ve done.” Explained Mart Drake-Knight, design engineer at Teemill. 

Customers scan the label inside with their phone to activate a free post returns coupon when the product is worn out.  Teemill recover and remanufacture the materials into new t-shirts and give the customer £5 off a new item.  Technology efficiencies enable these plastic free, organic and recycled t-shirts to be retailed new at £20.

“Customers are incentivised to keep the material flowing with money off their next purchase, Teemill benefits from lower material costs and the model is truly sustainable. It’s a circular fashion economy where everybody wins”.

Consumers can buy circular T-shirts at or build their own brand at  

Rapanui also share their sustainable e-commerce platform, systems and technology free online to help brand builders co-create the future of fashion.

Useful links

In PM100: How to apply permaculture principles to your wardrobe

In PM98 we speak to Rapanui to learn more about their future for fashion

Rapanui: making eco and ethical fashionable