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Ralph Lauren invests millions in fibre recycling tech

NFW ceo Dr. Luke Haverhals and coo Steve Zika.

US start-up Natural Fiber Welding (NFW) has received a multi-million investment from fashion label Ralph Lauren. The funds will benefit its new solution, which can recycle cotton and other types of textile scrap into ‘high-performance new materials’.

As a part of the investment, said to be around EUR 11 million (US$ 13 million), Ralph Lauren will help scale-up NFW’s patented process and develop premium quality apparel made from natural, circular materials.

NFW observes that recycled cotton is often ‘unsuitable’ for the production of new clothing due to the typically short fibres. However, the start-up’s innovative process has the potential to fix this by welding short fibres into longer fibres to recycled yarns.

NFW relies on an ionic liquid-based solvent to manipulate the input material. They may be either composed of natural polymers such as cellulose, and silk as well as synthetic polymers or blends.

The resulting upcycled material ‘outperforms’ synthetic fabrics while still retaining the comfortable feel of cotton, according to NFW founder and ceo Dr. Luke Haverhals.

Sustainability is becoming ever more important in the world of fashion, acknowledges David Lauren, vice chairman and chief innovation officer at Ralph Lauren. ‘We are excited to support the work of NFW, a pioneer in this field,’ he comments. ‘Their technology has the power to not only advance our work at Ralph Lauren, but effect positive change across the entire industry.’

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