Putting plastic waste to good use

The fabric of Okewa’s stylish new rainwear collection is woven from recycled plastic bottles.

By Carolyn Enting

Four years ago Okewa solved the problem of where to find a fashionable as well as functional raincoat when it launched its rainwear range.

The Wellington raincoat brand is making headlines again with its latest six-piece Recycled Range made from fabric woven from recycled plastic bottles.

With the rainwear category dominated by synthetic fibres, materials sourcing has been an important consideration for Okewa co-founders (husband and wife team) Nick and Nevada Leckie.

“The world’s plastic problem can’t be ignored,” says Nevada. “We were struck by a talk at Business of Fashion’s Voices event last year by sustainability expert Ellen MacArthur. Her foundation revealed that on our current trajectory, by 2050 there could be more plastic than fish in the sea by weight. Intercepting and repurposing some of that waste has got to be part of the solution. There aren’t silver bullets but for us this is about our brand taking a step in the right direction. It’s also critical to us that this new fabric didn’t compromise other values of the brand like total waterproofing, durability and a luxurious hand feel, and we’re thrilled this new fabric stands up to those requirements.”

The pair have also been searching the globe for a production company to make their technical spec jackets. This was triggered last year when Okewa’s New Zealand maker of their seam-sealed coats was unable to accept new orders. With that partner their last feasible option in New Zealand, due to the seam-sealed nature of the jackets, they were forced to look offshore.

“It was one of our more difficult moments along this journey,” says Nick. 

After much hunting for a manufacturer up to the task who also values environmental sustainability and ethical making, Okewa have confirmed an exciting partnership with a high quality manufacturer in Thailand who also produce for Patagonia and Burberry. 

“They’re one of the world’s best, and have an excellent track record in sustainability,” says Nick. “We’re extremely proud to be launching our 100 per cent recycled line in partnership with them.”

The six-piece capsule collection includes three styles for men and three for women, and is centred around a “punchy blue” colour and playful direction for Okewa. 

Okewa ‘Raglan’ domed jacket
Okewa ‘Raglan’ jacket
Okewa ‘Column’ coat

Okewa is now taking pre-orders for the new collection on Kickstarter. Find out how to pre-order here okewarainwear.com/collections/recycled-line

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