By Florence Ferrarri
In 1958 spandex was invented to replace rubber. Elastane, known also as lycra, is a synthetic fiber derived from petroleum. Thanks to its elastic properties, elastane found its way into lingerie and sportswear garments right from the start. But, from the 1980s and onwards, it began to be used everywhere, all too often just as a design habit, more than for any proven practical advantage (what is the point of putting elastane in a sweater anyway?)
However, this stretch mania has harmful effects on the environment. In fact, even in small percentages, which is the case most of the time, elastane, in addition to being non-biodegradable, poses enormous recycling problems. For example, whereas paper used to be a way of recovering end-of-life cottons, this is no longer the case with stretch cotton.
Nevertheless, recyclers are trying to find solutions. Filatures du Parc has succeeded, thanks to a patented process, in extracting reusable cotton fibres from stretch jeans. CID Process, for its part, has tackled the same problem, not without encountering many difficulties of their own.
While we won’t comment on the elegance of these extremely tight jeans, we are happy to evoke the sex appeal of James Dean or Marlon Brando in their 100% cotton jeans, with a natural wash and entirely biodegradable and recyclable materials. Now, that’s appealing!
Therefore, it is highly recommended to use elastane only where this fiber is relevant and irreplaceable: swimsuits, sportswear, tights, lingerie, elastic bands, etc.
For the rest, why not turn to the natural elasticity of crepe, the extensibility of the pleating, the malleability of bias-cut, the flexibility of mesh, etc. by which so many renowned designers have distinguished themselves: Sonia Rykiel, Issey Miyake, Madeleine Vionnet, Chanel… to name a few as we wait for others who will pick up the torch!
Recycling stretch jeans: a puzzle almost solved by Les Filatures du Parc (whereas 100% cotton is so easy to recycle!).