ISLE of Wight eco clothing company Rapanui has won the Queen’s Award for Innovation. It received the award for its Teemill project – an online platform that enables people to design and sell their own t-shirts using the company’s resources and production facilities.
Through improved design and technology, Rapanui — which powers its Freshwater factory with renewable energy — applies circular economy principles at every stage of production. Currently, more than 100 billion items of clothing are made every year, but a truck full of textiles is burned or buried every second — and Rapanui aims to make such waste a thing of the past
The linear clothing industry, which takes resources and creates waste, is expected to triple by 2050. In a bid to combat that linear economy, Teemill t-shirts are designed and manufactured to be remade and reused. Customers are urged to adopt those practices with money off future purchases.
Martin Drake-Knight, co-founder of Rapanui and Teemill Tech, said: “Slowing down fast fashion won’t fix it, but when we took material people normally throw away at the end and make new products from it at the start, it changed everything.
“What is needed is the technology to make the reverse logistics of fashion possible and economical.
“That’s exactly what we’ve done.”
Celebrities who have backed their work include supermodel Kate Moss and Dr Who and The Thick of It actor Peter Capaldi.