Industry veteran Tom Ott has joined entrepreneur Scott Kuhlman at ReCircled, a Denver-based company that is in the process of opening two modern facilities to provide the infrastructure for fashion brands to become sustainable. ReCircled will handle merchandise that’s been returned, damaged, or pre-owned for leading global fashion brands and retailers. Facilities are being finished in Cozad, Nebraska, and Prato, with additional facilities planned for the east and west coasts of the U.S.
According to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, a UK charity and global thought leader, less than one percent of clothing is repurposed. With the fashion industry stuck in a linear business model of Take-Make-Waste, ReCircled offers initiatives including producing more durable clothing that can be repaired, rented, or used in subscription boxes. Fashion brands can also work with ReCircled to enter the resale market.
According to Scott Kuhlman, co-founder of ReCircled, “Our proprietary process for sorting, cleaning and repairing and our unique e-commerce platform allow brands to keep items at their highest value, a core strategy of sustainability.” He also explains that their modern factories will have not just cutting/sewing/repair capabilities but also cleaning. “We will be using the latest CO2 cleaning, which is both eco-friendly and waterless. At the moment, tests are underway to verify that CO2 cleaning is the best way to remove bacteria and viruses.”
Former Saks Fifth Ave exec and ReCircled principal Tom Ott observes, “After several decades in the fashion industry, this project allows brands I’ve worked with over the years to become responsible to the environment and reach customers they haven’t in the past. I believe that most companies genuinely want to become more sustainable (it’s a priority for many) but they don’t know-how. The concept works for both retailers and brands who are giving up business to various re-sale outlets when they could be taking it in house.”
Ott is also excited that at the Nebraska facility, local workers will be trained to learn the necessary skills. He points out that the Prato facility, a center for recycled fabrics for generations, has the capability to actually break down fine fabrics like cotton, cashmere, and wool and re-weave or reknit them. “Perhaps a global shutdown is a perfect time to think about corporate responsibility, about the kind of world we want to live in when we get back to business,” Ott suggests.