Seaweed Fabric: Where the sea meets textile in a sustainable way – CFB’s development of recycled fabric as a clothing manufacturer on a journey to help the environment.

Daniel Tavares, studied Fashion Management at University of the Arts London, and worked as an intern for Valentino in Italy. She later found her passion working directly with textile industry in Portugal, and came across Create Fashion Brand, a clothing manufacturer that is placing all their bets in the sustainability, recycling, and zero waste policies in the business. She found particularly interesting a new development of seaweed fabric, so decided to make an interview with Ana Barroso, production manager at CFB. 

Create Fashion Brand (CFB) a sustainable and ethical clothing manufacturer in Portugal creates a smart way of developing a recycled fabric made out of Seaweed – a fiber created using naturally sourced seaweed, that can face up against sustainability and environmental challenges. 

Eco-friendly and repurposed/recycled fabrics have gained importance throughout the years since they give resource-saving and environmental protection during the life of the future garment made of that fabric. 

CFB’s Seaweed fabric is a Fabric created using naturally sourced Seaweed. This alternative plant-based yarn is afterwards spun with other fibers to create a fabric with many potencial benefits either for the environment as for the person who wears it. 

Located in the north of Portugal, next to the sea, Create Fashion Brand  (CFB) clothing manufacturer came with the idea of developing a fabric made of Seaweed that washes up on the Portuguese beaches. By doing that the company seeks to have zero human intervention in the marine ecosystem and produce garments only with what nature provides by itself. 

CFB has been at the forefront of introducing sustainable technologies in the field and producing green products for the last 15 years. With the implementation of this fabric, they seek to find a new purpose for Seaweeds that arrive to the beaches of the region, that instead of having just agriculture purposes (natural fertilizers) used by locals, it can also be recycled/repurposed to provide comfort to the people who buy garments made from it.  

Where did the idea of developing a Seaweed fabric came from?

Ana: Since I can remember, here at CFB, we have all lived near the beach. Locals grew up seeing the sea bring tons of seaweed to the shore, several times a year, and just being left there, waiting for someone to just find a new purpose for that “gift” from nature. So one day we just thought – why aren’t we doing it? As a clothing manufacturer, we should find a way to use this natural local component in our industry somehow so it can be repurposed/recycled and also provide a sustainable alternative for our current materials. And that’s when the idea came to life!

Many other companies already produce this type of fabric. What makes you different?

Ana: Unlikely other companies, our main goal is to not harvest the raw material directly from the sea. Instead we will work with what the sea ends up bringing to our beaches. By doing that we are not interfering with the marine ecosystem and we are only working with whats provided by nature, or in this case the sea and the tides. Furthermore, this fabric will not suffer any dyeing processes. After all, what is the purpose of us, as a clothing manufacturer, developing a sustainable/recycled fabric and saving considerable amounts of water, if later we are going to spend twice the amount of water just in the dyeing process? The natural color of the fabric will be the established color used to develop and produce future garments, even with any color or touch variations which is normal in a natural sourced fabric.

So can this Seaweed fabric be consider a sustainable fabric?

Ana: Even though this is a sustainable and recycled fabric, as it’s produced by natural sourced materials, our focus on this fabric is more specifically the “zero waste” practice, in which we pick a component provided by nature and create something that can be useful, prioritizing an harvest with zero environmental interference from humans. We are basically reusing a material that nature “threw away”, and giving it a new purpose, hence it is also a repurposed fabric. By doing that, CFB combines the most eco-friendly ways of working in order to give the best product to our clients. 

How do you plan to collect the seaweeds from the beaches?

Ana: In addition to wanting all the development processes of this fabric to be sustainable and recycled, we also want them to be ethical. Instead of using industrial means to collect seaweed from our beaches, we thought of resorting to those who know the most about this matter – the local farmers. The local farmers, with the help of close relatives, have always collected seaweed from our beaches, for later, after going through the drying process, to be sold at local fairs for various purposes, mostly for fertilizing the fields. By giving these local workers this opportunity, we are in a way also keeping the region’s tradition alive, as we seek to make history with the development of this new fabric, also providing employment opportunities to external people.

What are the steps for developing this fabric?

Ana: First of all, we need to wait until the sea brings the seaweed. After the seaweed arrives to our beaches, it is then collected in nets. After that, the seaweed is dried naturally and coarsely chopped, without using any chemical treatments, thereby retaining the natural components of the plant. The production process is energy efficient and environmentally friendly, using renewable resources, and takes place in a closed loop. To become what is Seaweed fabric, is a patented process and firmly embeds the seaweed within recycled cotton fibers. 

How much fabric do you plan to produce in a year?

Ana: Obviously it will depend on how much Seaweed the sea will bring to our beaches but we estimated 1 ton per year – what means that if we consider a Jersey 180gsm T-shirt unisex regular fitting it will result in about 1.3 million t-shirts all over the world. This number may seem a lot, but compared to the 2 billion t-shirts that are sold every year worldwide, we can say that is a small quantity. It should be noted that this fabric will be limited to the amount of seaweed that will reach our beaches. This factor is actually what sets us apart from other companies that also produce SeaCell fabric. 

Which are the benefits of making a fabric out of Seaweed?

Ana: Seaweed fabric has several benefits for the people who wear it. Our idea, as a clothing manufacturer, is that the careful drying and non-chemical processing of Seaweed allow the material to retain its nutrients. Therefore, iron, calcium, magnesium, Vitamin E, and plenty of antioxidants are locked inside the fibers. Wearers should then gain the benefits as the seaweed makes contact with the skin, which is facilitated through moisture on the skin so that the nutrients are absorbed topically. In theory, this boost of Vitamin E should help nourish tired skin while the antioxidants fight free radicals and slow down the aging process.


What will be the composition of this fabric?

Ana: Our goal was to develop a fabric only made by using seaweed, but unfortunately after some tests we came to the conclusion that it would be impossible. The fabric made only by seaweed was too fragile and after being turn into a t-shirt and a couple washes later, it started to tear. So in order to not loose the concept of sustainability connected to this fabric, came the idea of joining recycled cotton in order to make the fabric more resistant and with a soft touch. So I can say that the final fabric will be composed by only 40% recycled cotton and the other 60% by our seaweeds. 

What is the expected reaction to this fabric when it comes to customers?

Ana: We hope for a very positive feedback and that this fabric awakens in each customer a feeling of change and the desire to do better. We developed this fabric and even if it is not sold, we can say that our part is done. We, as a clothing manufacturer, are not responsible for what people end up buying or the decisions they make at the time of purchase, but we are responsible for what we put on the market for those people to buy. In the end, we get a feeling of fulfillment and accomplishment in the creation of a natural alternative to be out in the market. 

Final Words: 

Create Fashion Brand (CFB) believes in striving to make a change in society. Their globally recognized quality has been winning hearts for the last decades. With the development of this new fabric, CFB’s eco-friendly approach is growing quite rapidly and will reduce carbon footprints and the industry impact in the environment in the current decade. 

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Company Name: CFB Create Fashion Brand Textile
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Country: Portugal