There are generally two strategies for zero-waste fashion: creative pattern making that uses 100% of a given material, and generating garments from remnant materials. The only approach that we felt truly honored our sustainability philosophy was a marriage of the two.
The journey of a tonlé product begins in an unlikely place: a heaping pile of factory scrap material. Our design team frequents the remnant material markets to scavenge through piles of factory castoffs before they end up in landfills. Creativity is key, as size, color, texture, and material continually vary. But we don’t stop there. tonlé designers work side by side with the production team to plan collections that incorporate even the tiniest scraps into original looks. Our excess fabric strips are tediously hand cut and individually sewn back into yarn. The yarn is then knit and woven into new pieces; articles of clothing made from twice-recycled fabric.
Working in this fashion leaves 2-3% waste, which is pretty good, considering a typical factory can average 40%. But we weren’t satisfied. This led us to pioneer a formula for making our own recycled paper, which combines tiny scraps of fabric, paper left from our office and pattern making, and natural glue. This closed the loop in our production and brought our waste down to nil. So, when you purchase a tonlé product, check for tiny threads in your hangtag and know that it was put there with both you and our planet in mind.
|Fabric deemed unusable by large manufacturers is strategically cut into strips to be made into tonlé garments.||The remaining strips are cut even smaller and individually hand sewn into "yarn" to be woven into tonlé clothing and accessories.||tonlé's smallest scraps are mixed in with recycled office paper and sticky rice to make our hang tags.|