Inditex Backs Infinna, a Recycled Textile That Can Match Cotton

Inditex, the world’s biggest fast fashion group, is investing €100 million in a Finnish firm that turns textile waste into new fabric similar to cotton. The landmark deal represents a significant moment in the evolution of circular fashion, although Inditex offered no commitment to cut back on its overall material and garment production.

The parent company of Zara, Massimo Dutti and Pull & Bear has signed a €100 million deal with Finnish circular technology specialist Infinited Fiber Company. A three-year initial partnership involves Inditex commiting to buy 30 per cent of Infinited Fiber Company’s annual future production volume of its Infinna textile, which replicates the look and feel of cotton, but can be created from 100 per cent textile waste.

“Collaborating with others in new innovative initiatives and next generation fibres like Infinna is vital to carrying out the transformation our industry needs,” a statement from Inditex chief sustainability officer Javier Losada reads.

The deal comes days after Tommy Hilfiger and Calvin Klein parent company PVH inked a multi-year deal with Infinited Fiber Company. Hilfiger’s first products using Infinna will drop this summer. PVH identified the partnership as a key step towards its 2030 goal to reduce negative environmental impacts to zero. Patagonia, Ganni, Pangaia and Zalando have also signed partnerships over the past year to use Infinna.

The deals with Inditex and PVH will help Infinited Fiber Company to build its largest production facility to date, slated to open in 2024. “This is a significant step towards realising our ambition of making Infinna a mainstream textile material of the future,” Infinited Fiber Company CEO Petri Alava says.

“You need investments and long-term partnerships like this to scale alternative materials and make them commercially viable to other companies,” says Nina Marenzi, founder and director of The Sustainable Angle, which organises the influential Future Fabrics Expo. “Building factories is a big risk without commitments from brands.”

Infinited Fiber Company’s recent spate of partnership deals suggests an upbeat future for recycled materials. Leading recycled cotton fibre producer Recover also opened a new factory in Bangladesh this week, building on partnerships with Primark and denim brand DL1961. In 2020, Sweden’s H&M was among the first to commit to a multi-year deal, securing a five-year supply of Swedish textile recycling company Renewcell’s Circulose fibres.

Sustainable fashion experts point out that there are multiple challenges facing the fashion industry in order to master textile recycling at scale: building infrastructure to collect post-consumer textile waste, encouraging consumers to donate their unwanted garments through these streams, and pushing through legislation that will make these processes more efficient.

“Chemical recycling is absolutely part of the solution and will help fashion reach its 2030 climate targets,” says Marenzi. “This is good news, but it’s not the only solution. The knock-on effect could be that it distracts people from the bigger problem, and that the availability of post-consumer recycling encourages overconsumption.”

She says textile recycling needs to be part of a matrix of solutions that includes curbing production and consumption, encouraging care and repair, and supporting farmers producing raw materials in the transition to regenerative agriculture.

Inditex say it’s too early to know how much of its total material production could be switched to Infinna in future, but note that the company has increased its use of “more sustainable cotton” by 125 per cent and “more sustainably sourced polyester, mainly recycled polyester but also some made using innovative carbon capture technology” by 179 per cent.

Source: Vogue Business