Recycled products have finally made a big appearance in the market, in our lifestyle, and in our lives. And one of the most difficult materials that we’re trying to either get rid of or use wisely, is plastic.
That’s why it was incredible to know that now you can wear cool, comfortable, stylish and sporty tees that are actually made out of plastic! In fact, the Wonder Tee, that is available from the brand Alcis Sports, is made using eight plastic bottles!
Sounds interesting and something that we could definitely try out ourselves? Excerpts from a chat with Mr. Roshan Baid, Managing Director of Alcis Sports.
When did the thought of converting ‘trash’ into something useful take place? Was there a particular incident that triggered it?
Alcis Sports was incepted around two and a half years ago, to cater to the growing Indian sportswear market. The idea for our Wonder Tee and Wonder Polo range was born from the growing need of making environment-friendly products. Plastic waste and the toxins associated with it is a real issue confronting all of us.
Can you give us a run-down of the process involved in making these and how it is different?
Generally, T-Shirts are made of polyester – a man-made fiber, production of which involves huge quantities of water, chemicals and use of fossil fuels. Moreover, the raw materials and by-products are toxic and pollute water and air, causing several health hazards.
We thought of using R-PET (Recycled Polyethylene Terephthalate) for our Wonder Tee and Wonder Polo range. It’s a strong, durable and recyclable material used for soda bottles, water bottles, food jars etc. making it an environment-friendly, cost-effective and safe product that also performs better than 100% virgin polyester.
Plastic bottles are the main raw material that is used. The collected PET bottles are sterilized, dried and crushed into small chips. The chips are then heated and passed through a spinneret to form strings of yarn, which is wound up in spools. The fiber is then passed through a crimping machine to create a fluffy wooly texture and this yarn is then baled, dyed and knitted into fabric.
Image Credit: fashiongaze
Our entire Wonder Tee and Wonder Polo range is already being made from recycled polyester. About eight plastic bottles are used to make each T-shirt, and each tee saves approximately 27 liters of water, uses 50% less energy to produce and reduces carbon emission by over 54%.
People are converting different forms of plastic into other things – what led to the idea of creating t-shirts out of plastic?
The thought behind using waste plastic bottles was the need to establish environmentally friendly products. We’re now taking the next leap wherein we’re aggressively increasing the use of recycled polyester made from plastic bottles across all our apparel range. The aim is to have 50% of the products manufactured from recycled polyester, which is made from waste plastic bottles within the next few months.
Have you been in the corporate world earlier before coming up with Alcis Sports?
I’ve been an entrepreneur for the last two decades. I started Paragon Apparel in 1997, which today is India’s largest sportswear manufacturing company, and caters to most of the international brands. While Paragon Apparel is a B2B company, Alcis Sports is a B2C company. So you can say that I’ve been an entrepreneur almost throughout my professional life.
This seems to be a very new concept, at least in India. How did you carry out research or know what to bring in to the market?
We’ve done informal and formal surveys where consumers are genuinely amazed – the awareness of plastic getting converted into recyclable yarn and eventually into an Alcis Wonder Tee is really fascinating for them. We wanted to increase awareness among people and move them towards using products that are sustainable and made from recycled materials. For example, clothing made out of recycled polyester is picking up pace globally, but very few local players are doing this currently. Hence, not only from the point of view of being able to contribute to the environment, it made great business sense as well for us to be in this space.
Were there any phases where you faced difficulty?
The main task was to ensure the quality of the products. Alcis Sports prides itself in being a top-notch performance wear company with the latest apparel technology at the centre of it all. The main challenge was to make sure that the same quality and technology is delivered to our consumers with the Wonder Tee and Wonder Polo range as well.
The usual perception is that plastic is not good for us – what changes when it’s in the form of clothing?
The harmful properties of plastic get treated and eliminated in the process of making yarn out of plastic bottles. So, there are no health hazards from these t-shirts that are usually associated with plastic.
Who is your target audience? Who can get the most out of these tees? Is it only for those who are into fitness and exercising?
At Alcis, our target audience is anyone who is looking for high quality performance wear at affordable prices. Alcis Sports makes sportswear for Running, Training, Yoga and Racquet sports such as Tennis, Squash and Badminton. We make for both men and women and are targeting the 12-35 year old segment aggressively.
People, particularly the youth, have become much more fitness conscious and are indulging in multiple sporting activities, giving a rapid fillip to the athleisure industry of the country. Today, one can find athleisure incorporating the global trends and the latest that garment technology has to offer. Alcis products have been made for fitness enthusiasts as well as fashionistas. You can wear Alcis everywhere, be it in the gym, office or at parties.
Did you have to convince retailers about the product or was the market open to try this out? How was the consumer reaction initially?
We were pleasantly surprised by the reaction of not only our distributors and retailers but from consumers as well during our test phase. It told us that people are getting more and more conscious and sensitive towards the damage we’re collectively causing to the earth’s ecology and are looking to adopt more green products in their daily lives.
We are certainly looking to grow this category by 4-5 times by 2020 by creating more awareness among people. We’re heavily promoting our Wonder Tee and Wonder Polo range and will look at intensifying our marketing efforts in order to make more and more people aware of this wonderful product.
Recycling has come up in a big way now. What advice would you give anyone who’s willing to come up with recycling projects?
We require more entrepreneurs who recognise the need to be more environmentally conscious. The entrepreneur community can definitely contribute to a large extent and innovate with technologies that can potentially address this grave problem confronting all of us. It is imperative that we look at building sustainable enterprises that look at the future. Also, the VC and investor community can play an important role here by supporting and encouraging such ventures.
Where all can we get these tees from?
Today, Alcis products which have international quality but Indian prices, are available in over 700 outlets across the country including all leading large format stores such as Lifestyle, Shopper Stop, Central, Globus, Sports Station, etc, online retail websites and 9 exclusive brand stores at New Delhi, Mumbai, Kochi, Jaipur, Guwahati, Bengaluru and Goa.
If you’re looking to get something new in your wardrobe that’s stylish, will work in your fitness as well as casual setting, keeps you looking good and feeling and comfortable, and also lets you take pride in the fact that you’re doing something good for the environment, then probably you should check out these tees that are made out of recycled plastic bottles.