Ecoalf and Sanyo partner in Japan … upcycling the world’s waste into fabulous new fashions … including its advertising posters … “because there is no planet B”
March 20, 2020
Spanish eco-fashion brand Ecoalf this month launched in the Japanese market with a joint-venture with Japanese clothing company Sanyo Shokai. Ecoalf opened its first store in Tokyo as part of the omni-channel strategy that will cover retail, online and wholesale.
However what really caught media attention was its reuse the back of old advertising posters, another example of its “up cycling” approach.
Javier Goyeneche, Ecoalf’s founder and CEO, who features in my forthcoming book Business Recoded talked about his passion for creating a more sustainable life, and whilst it started in turning plastic bottles into shirts, is now becoming a much more diverse approach to making better use of life’s waste materials – from coffee grounds to ink cartridges – and turning them into something new and interesting.
In launching the new Japanese venture, Goyeneche, said “I am pleased to announce this partnership with Sanyo in Japan, a market where we see significant growth opportunity specifically in the sustainable fashion lifestyle. What we do, how we do it and with whom we do it, is key for Ecoalf. This is why Sanyo’s 70 years of extensive expertise and tradition in the Japanese market is a best-in-class alliance for Ecoalf’s successful expansion into Japan”.
Isao Iwata, president, Sanyo Shokai, added “According to WWF reports, if mankind continues to live as it does today, we will need resources equivalent to those of two planets by 2030. Moreover, measures are being considered at the national level to deal with marine pollution caused by plastic garbage as an international issue. Through our business activities, Sanyo, together with Ecoalf, will work to create a new business model with low environmental impact and to promote a sustainable society both for the next generation and for the future.”
EcoAlf was created by Javier Goyeneche in 2012 to realise innovation in recycled clothing. The idea for a truly sustainable brand was born from a deep frustration with the excessive use of the world’s natural resources and the amount of waste produced by industrialised countries – specifically by the fashion industry. But Ecoalf is more than a conscious clothing brand; it is a mission to create the first generation of recycled products with the same attention to quality, design and technical properties as the best non-recycled products in the market.
Javier Goyeneche was born in Madrid, Javier studied in Spain, London and Paris, while also taking part in top international equestrian competitions. He received his degree in Business Administration from the European Business School and continued with post-graduate work in International Marketing Strategies at Northwestern University in Chicago.
In 1995, he founded Fun & Basics, specializing in contemporary fashion handbags and accessories. Within 10 years, Javier grew the business to 350 points of sale and 70 branded retail stores. His accomplishments were recognized by the industry when he was awarded Best Young Entrepreneur of Madrid in 2005.
Although he achieved tremendous success with Fun & Basics, Javier gradually grew frustrated with the amount of waste he saw being produced by the fashion industry. He embarked on a mission to create an entirely new concept that would combine his design sensibility and understanding of the fashion consumer with the latest in recycled materials. In 2008 he launched EcoAlf..
Under his leadership, the company has grown steadily and now produces a full lifestyle collection of outerwear, swimwear, casual apparel, shoes and accessories. Javier has strategically expanded EcoAlf ’s distribution to include many of the world’s most prestigious department stores and specialty retailers. In 2012, he oversaw the opening of an integrated EcoAlf concept store, showroom and office in Madrid. Most recently Javier spearheaded a partnership with Apple, supplying the company with cases for its MacBook Pro products. Moving forward he will continue to forge strategic alliances that will position EcoAlf as a leader in fashion and accessories crafted from recycled material.
The concept of the brand came after the birth of Goyeneche’s son, Alfredo (the company is named after him) when I was reflecting upon the world we would leave to the next generation, and my frustration with the excessive use of the World’s natural resources.
EcoAlf was born in 2009. Goyeneche’s idea was to create a fashion brand that is truly sustainable.
All studies showed that we are presently using five times more natural resources than the planet is able to auto-generate. We cannot live in this world as if we have another one to go when this one is ruined.
Goyeneche spent the three first years on sourcing and developing fabrics. The problem was that when I sourced the market for recycled materials the offer was small and of very poor quality. Most fabrics only contained a very small percentage of recycled material (15-20%).
So he found the need to start creating partnerships with factories in order to develop fabrics, lining, straps, labels and cords using recycled materials.
The goal was to create the first generation of recycled products with the same quality, design and technical properties as the best non-recycled products to show that there is no need to use our world’s natural resources in careless way.
Discarded fishing nets, post-consumer plastic bottles, worn-out tires, post-industrial cotton, and used coffee grinds…where people see trash I see high quality raw materials.
Hopefully, in a near future, their vision and efforts will encourage others to move in the same path, as more sustainable fashion labels will emerge resulting in a global compromise towards recycling and sustainability.
When EcoAlf first emerged, their first challenge was to change people´s conceptual approach of recycling, as recycling and quality did not seem to connect. People imagine them taking their grandmothers quilt and making a simple rough backpack.
Their efforts during the past years have clearly proven that recycling connects with quality and design, resulting in boosting a change of mentality where people now believe trash equals natural resources with the same quality.
Think micro and act macro. Goyeneche believes this change will be not be driven by governments but by small companies who will step by step guide the small customer towards this world compromised with recycling and sustainability and demonstrate that things can be done in a different way.
By investing in R+D and traveling around the world, he started to identify the ideal manufacturing resources, and started to build carefully the foundation that would become EcoAlf.
Today the company has 11 active alliances around the world (Taiwan, Korea, Portugal, Mexico, Japan, Spain, etc.) that allow us to continually develop all necessary elements to manufacture with recycled materials.
In the short time of EcoAlf existence, 30 million plastic bottles and 40 tons of fishing nets were recycled to make its products.
There are too many people complaining and a few pushing to change things. All industries should act, react and focus all resources in I+D. Natural resources are not endless and we need to start acting now, as we can still change the world we all live in.
If you want to make a difference don’t let anybody tell you “it’s impossible”!!
EcoAlf is working on a major project for a while now. Until now, EcoAlf has been reducing waste by recycling materials from landfills but my personal challenge has always been to help cleaning up the ocean.
The idea is to collect marine debris with the help of Fishermen and recycle them into consumer products. I had spent the last year investigating the feasibility of the project and finding all the right partners, such as recycling facilities, spinners, weavers and most importantly Fishermen Associations. Because the Fishermen are pulling up a huge amount of plastic in their nets and have always been throwing it back in the sea. Simply because that was how it was done during generations.