Marine Layer Is Turning Your Old Favorite Tees Into Your New Favorite Tees

Photo: Marine Layer

Photo: Marine Layer

Textile waste is notoriously difficult (and expensive) to recycle. Even progressive San Francisco, with its Zero Waste initiative, struggles with processing discarded clothes. The answer, generally, is to reuse apparel, but Bay Area knitwear brand Marine Layer has just taken a big step toward a new solution: it’s partnered with a Spanish company called Recover to create a line of eight Re-Spun tee styles made from recycled t-shirts.

Last November, Marine Layer asked its customers for their old t-shirts, hoping to collect 10,000 to make the Re-Spun collection happen. Folks showed up in a big way, sending in 25,000 shirts. The company shipped the shirts to Spain, where Recover sorted them by color, broke them down to the fiber level, blended ‘em up with recycled plastic bottles, and turned them into fabric for new t-shirts. The process used no water, no added dyes, and no new materials. The new(ish) fabric then made the return journey to the good ol’ US of A, where it was sewn into its current form.

This week, Marine Layer unveiled the fruits of all that cross-Atlantic labor: tees, tanks, and polos ($52-$92) made from 100% post-consumer waste. In the next two years, Marine Layer hopes to have Re-Spun fabrics constitute 50 percent of their collection, Forbes reports. With more than 70,000 t-shirts collected so far, they definitely have enough raw materials to make a go of it; the question is whether the process can become cost-effective.

Curious about the new line? Check it out online or in Marine Layer stores—there are six in the Bay Area—right now. And if you have t-shirts that dream of being reincarnated, Marine Layer is still accepting tees made out of anything except Spandex-y workout fabrics; you’ll even get a $5 credit per shirt, (up to $25 total in credits), when you hand over your old shirts.