VONK & ReBlend
The latest edition of VONK featuring the sustainable fashion start-up ReBlend was very insightful, not only for Anita de Wit, co-founder of the company. By inviting a very diverse set of people with different educational backgrounds and who follow different professions, the event offers a nice opportunity for everyone to think outside of the box and contribute to a sustainable society.
During VONK we give the stage to a sustainable start-up. Together with the audience we brainstorm about a concrete challenge this start-up is facing. This edition’s focus was on ReBlend, a social enterprise with a mission to raise awareness about the ecological impact of the textile industry and to inspire the use of renewable raw materials. To offer a solution ReBlend develops and sells a range of textiles and textile products made from end-of-life textiles that otherwise end up in incineration. The textiles made from recycled fibres are a positive alternative for the conscious consumer, to replace the regular products that people are used to.
On the 11th of December we invited curious minds to De Balie in Amsterdam to share their thoughts and contribute to solve challenges the sustainable company ReBlend is facing. The company noticed that consumers perceive the value of products made from bio-cotton differently than the value of products made from ‘circular’ or ‘recycled’ textile, while both methods are important for creating a more sustainable textile industry. For co-founder Anita de Wit two challenges emerged she wanted to discuss with the audience:
How to position ReBlend in addition to organic cotton?
How to create a transforming, enabling image?
Young-professionals, experts from the field and interested students brainstormed together in small groups and created valuable input for the social and sustainable enterprise. After debates in smaller groups, the participants reconvened and were asked to present their strategy and findings to everyone, including Anita de Wit, Co-founder of ReBlend.
Recycled Fabrics = Circular Yarn!
One could see a red thread arising in regards to the positioning-question of ReBlend: many teams suggested to re-name the fabrics and textiles the company is using, away from “recycled” to “circular”. ReBlend already works together with waste collectors, producers, designers, makers and visionaries; organising the full supply chain from start to finish to guarantee their textiles don’t harm people and planet and accelerate a new ecosystem for circular textiles. So, positioning their brand in this context should not be hard, yet promising and beneficial for the start-up’s branding.
Involving the Dutch Government
While bio-cotton is a promising alternative to commercial fabrics and blends, it also has downsides and a negative impact on the environment such as the high water usage for the growing of the cotton. Positioning the recycled (or circular) fabrics and textiles of ReBlend in addition to bio-cotton could then follow – for instance, by emphasising that we need additional streams and sources of more planet-friendly textiles and fabrics. Here, ReBlends circular yarn comes in as a valuable, sustainable alternative. Different teams also made the connection to the Dutch government, which aims at being circular in 2050. To support the goal, ReBlend and retailers should approach the government and ask for support in producing / selling their circular yarn through subsidies or tax benefits.
Another interesting point here was, that the government could support the recycling of textiles by collecting all old and damaged uniforms of for example the Dutch police and investing in uniforms made from different organic, recycled and circular yarns.
Anita de Wit was very happy about the output of the brainstorming sessions and approached some of the teams during the closing drinks afterwards to discuss certain lines of thought a little more. We are curious to see which ideas ReBlend will implement in their strategy of positioning themselves in the competitive fashion industry.
We thank everyone who attended the event and are looking forward to welcome all curious thinkers out there to our next edition of VONK, approximately taking place in February 2020. In case you are interested in joining and would like to be updated about the exact date etc. please let us know.
You are a sustainable start-up facing similar or completely different challenges and would like to speak on stage, share your issues and see where the brainstorming takes your company? Get in touch with us now!