The Renewal Workshop Goes Live
Have you ever wondered what happens to the jacket or shirt that you sent back to the manufacturer because a zipper or a seam blew out? In a few rare cases, it gets repaired and returned to the consumer by the manufacturer. But, more often than not, returned gear simply ends up destined for the landfill. In fact, more than 14 million tons of returned apparel goes to the landfill every year. Enter The Renewal Workshop, a new enterprise co-founded by Nicole Bassett and Jeff Denby, both clothing industry veterans with a vision to change the landfill cycle for returned apparel.
The Renewal Workshop was born out of the idea that there is an alternative to the short-lived landfill cycle. That we throw things away that aren’t really trash. And that we should not live like everything around us is disposable. Bassett and Denby’s idea was to collect returned clothing, repair or otherwise renew it to quality standards approved by the original brand and resell it to give it a second life and, in the process, build a new category of clothing, Renewed Apparel. According to Denby, “We recover a ton of value in the product through our renewal process, giving our customers the opportunity to buy renewed, not new. Renewed Apparel is a whole new product category and the Renewable Lifestyle is one that our core customers live every day.”
Following a successful Indiegogo fundraising campaign, The Renewal Workshop was born and set up shop in Cascade Locks, Oregon in the Columbia River Gorge. The eight person crew, including the co-founders, has been working overtime the past year to build brand relationships and dial in their Cascade Locks facility to create renewed apparel. The first manufacturers to sign on to their program include Prana, Toad & Co., Mountain Khakis and Ibex.
Once received in their facility, the first step in creating renewed apparel is cleaning the garments. Following their ethos to do things right for the planet, they sought an alternative to traditional and resource intensive washing. The result is a partnership with TERSUS Solutions, an advanced cleaning technology that uses no water and no heat. TERSUS harnesses the cleaning properties of liquid CO2 in a closed system for a thorough, commercial grade cleaning (read more about TERSUS).
The next step is evaluating what needs to be done to bring each product back to the original brand’s quality standards. According to Bassett, more than 60 percent of the apparel received is renewable. Items that cannot be renewed are organized so the resource can be used at its highest value. If the material can be used to repair another item, it is. Bassett calls it upcycling. Material too damaged to be used again is collected for recycling.
Once cleaned and repaired, every piece gets a new Renewal Workshop label and is photographed for display on the website. It then gets packaged in a simple paper wrapper and inventoried as Renewed Apparel.
The Renewal Workshop went live on February 1, 2017. Check them out at www.therenewalworkshop.com