One man’s trash could literally become another’s treasure or at least organic jacket to be precise. At least that’s the case when you opt-in to buy yourself a Picture Organic Jacket. They’ve revolutionized the production game with their once before plastic bottle jackets and in October of 2018 they’ve made their way down to Taiwan just to show us the entire manufacturing process from beginning to end.
Step 1 – Recycle
To manufacture your typical ski jacket’s polyester usually requires crude oil extracted from our mother earth. That is when you don’t buy from Picture as they’ve found a way of reusing previously extracted crude oil in the form of a plastic bottle.
Picture partnered up with a company in Taiwan called Sunny who recycle 2500 metric tons of plastic bottles per month. The primary source of these recycled bottles are the people of Taiwan who partake in numerous waste-recycling programs.
The first part of the recycling process is to wash the bottles. This process requires a huge amount of water and that could be a bit of a doozy for someone whose main objective is to conserve. Luckily these guys are a step ahead. They’ve installed their own water treatment system that reuses 80% of the wastewater it produces. Finally, the bottles are placed in a shredder that turns the bottles into flakes. These flakes are then melted down in order to be turned into thread.
Step 2 – Transform Bottles into Thread
Transforming the bottles into thread isn’t really one of the quickest steps of the production process. This stage consists out of 5 steps that some might argue has some damaging effects on our environment due to the requirement of electricity. There’s no way around the fact that you need electricity to power the heavy machinery needed to complete this process and Picture constantly upgrade their systems to assure that they are as green as possible. With that said, making use of the current organic jacket production process still has a 40% less impact on the environment than crude oil extraction does.
Stages of Step 2
- 1. The flakes are melted into liquid.
- 2. The liquid gets cooled down until it returns to its solid form.
- 3. The solidified liquid is the cut into small square chips.
- 4. The chips are then melted into molten plastic.
- 5. Finally, they form the synthetic thread by pushing the molten plastic through extremely tiny holes.
Step 3 – Weaving Fabric from Spools of Thread
In order to get the thread around their huge rollers, over 1200 different spools simultaneously feed thread into a winding machine that does the job. At last, we get to the weaving of our material. This process is completed by a loom designed to weave the threads while simultaneously pressing to provide structure to the fabric. After this process, we finally have our fabric.
Step 4 – Waterproof and Dyeing Process
We’re reaching the end of the fabric manufacturing process. The only thing we have left to do is making the fabric ski-ready. First, we need a nice shocking dye-job to make sure you are visible at all times when you’re hitting the powder. Secondly, we need to make sure that the fabric is both waterproof and breathable.
The fabric is thrown into a machine that resembles a massive washing machine filled with the desired colouring. This process takes roughly an hour to complete but the long wait is totally worth it as the fabric is fully dyed when it emerges from the machine where it then receives a wash and dry.
The colouring process requires a couple of chemicals, but luckily the good kind. With a Bluesign Approved certificate for 100% of their technical fabrics, it’s safe to say that you are in good hands. Having this certification means that no harmful chemicals were used in any of the production stages.
After the dying process is complete they add a durable water repellent finish to the fabric. By using PFC-free Teflon EcoElite solution they are guaranteed that the fabric contains no harmful or noxious chemicals. In the future, they aim to save even more water and electricity by developing a method where they dye the polyester as it is spun into thread.
Now the fabric’s water repellent, but not yet waterproof or breathable. As any skier would tell you these are 2 qualities no ski jacket can go without. Lamination is the process where they glue a waterproof-breathable membrane to the face fabric. Glue will only be applied to parts where the material is stretchy. The reason being that there’s a risk of unglueing when the fabric stretches. This second membrane acts as a barrier that allows wind to pass through the fabric and not water.
Step 5 – Making the Organic Jacket
The fabric is then sent to their partner factory, Li Lan, situated in Dongguan, China. This partnership stretches back to 2008 when Picture just arrived on the scene. A computer automatically marks the different pieces they’ll need to make an organic jacket with the goal of wasting as little material as possible.
The pattern then gets printed where afterwards a worker will cut each piece by hand. After every piece is cut they need to sew the pieces together. Seams are the weak points of waterproof jackets and that’s why they make use of waterproof seams to solve the issue. There are two instances where they tape the seams when they waterproof their high-performance technical jackets and also when a jacket will potentially leak in extreme weather.
The final detailed components like zippers and snow skirts are then added by hand except for the laser cutting. After everything is sewn together, they inspect, check seams and test every feature of the jacket. Finally, the organic jacket will get ironed, is folded, receives labels and barcodes and then gets packed.