First of all, please tell us about the BRING™ brand.
Takasugi: Simply put, BRING™ is a brand based on the concept of “making clothes from clothes.” However, the scope of our brand is wide, and we not only sell clothes made from recycled materials, but also collect and recycle clothes.
At the stores of companies that support this concept, we collect unwanted clothes that people no longer wear and separate them at our sorting center. Among them, polyester products are reborn as recycled polyester resin at the factory, and other materials are recycled by partner companies.
We can recycle not only 100% polyester clothing, but also products that are blended with other fibers using our unique technology that can remove impurities such as dyes.
The recycled polyester resin produced in this way has the same quality as conventional petroleum-based materials, but is also sustainable. increase.
In order to complete the cycle of “making clothes from clothes” in-house, we have also launched a D2C brand called BRING™, and sell products such as T-shirts, dress shirts, polo shirts, and underwear on EC. .
How are you collaborating with Descente?
Takasugi: We have installed BRING™ collection boxes in Descente’s directly managed stores, and have customers collect the company’s clothing that they no longer need. Combined with items from other companies, we have collected a cumulative total of approximately 3,000 tons of clothing so far.
Did you feel or have your impressions changed while working with Descente?
Takasugi: Even before we started collaborating, I had the impression that you were working on cutting-edge manufacturing, including the highly functional Mizusawa Down. However, by actually participating in BRING™, I was once again impressed by the company’s stance of taking on challenges in new fields. I’ve always thought it was a great company, but this image has further strengthened.
What kind of impact do you think Descente’s sustainable initiatives have had on the industry?
Takasugi: I recognize that Descente is a company that has a great influence not only in Japan but also overseas. I hope that it will be an opportunity for sustainable initiatives to spread not only in the sportswear industry but also in apparel companies around the world.
Please tell us about the meaning behind the name BRING™ and the cute bee character.
Takasugi: BRING™ is derived from the English word meaning “to bring”. The brand name simply reflects our efforts to bring as many clothes as possible to as many people as possible. In addition, the image character is a honeybee, and it embodies the mechanism of BRING™, which collects clothes from various places and creates the next resource, as bees collect nectar from various flowers and use it as food.
Takasugi: In the past, there weren’t many companies that were actively working on the environment, so we started with a few companies. We are working with companies of In many cases, one company has expanded to multiple stores, and it has spread to thousands of stores. However, we believe that there is still room for further expansion in terms of nationwide coverage.
Do you feel that interest in ethical consumption and sustainability is spreading?
Takasugi: Compared to 10 years ago when BRING started, words like ethical and sustainable have become more prominent in news, magazines, and media. There is no doubt that more and more people are interested in these efforts, even among models and celebrities.
I believe that this trend will continue to spread, and I hope that it will continue to do so.
There are hidden difficulties behind the revolutionary technology of BRING™
―What kind of processes are used to create new polyester resin in the factory?
Hamada: Clothing sorted at the sorting center is first chemically decomposed in a process called “depolymerization.” After that, foreign substances other than pigments and polyester are removed in the process of “bleaching and refining”.
Then, it is reborn as a recycled polyester resin in a process called “polymerization” and shipped to be processed into threads and fabrics by partner spinning companies.
We are now able to stably and smoothly carry out these processes, but there were many difficulties to reach there, and even now we continue to pursue “better quality” and “higher efficiency” by trial and error every day. Every day.
Honestly, what are the strengths of BRING™?
Hamada: I think the best thing is that we are in charge of everything from collection of clothing to recycling and sales. I’m sure there are other companies that carry out part of the process, but I am proud that we are unique in being able to implement it in a series of processes.
It is also characterized by its ability to handle small-lot production. This makes it technically possible to manufacture different types of polyester on a daily basis.
The greatest strength is that anyone can participate in the initiative of “making clothes from clothes”, in other words, it is possible for society as a whole to realize recycling-oriented manufacturing centered on clothes.
What kind of teams are involved in the manufacturing process?
Hamada: Currently, about 10 people are working at the sorting center and about 20 people at the manufacturing site, and about 45 people are working at the Hibikinada factory as a whole. Since the factory needs to operate 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, the employees at the manufacturing site work in three teams and two shifts. I’m relatively young, so I work in a friendly atmosphere.
Are there any moments that made you happy while working on this project, or that you were glad you did it?
Hamada: It is a very valuable experience to be involved in the production of fibers using recycled polyester, for which demand is expected in the future, at a factory that incorporates the most advanced technology in the world.
In addition, many people agree with our efforts, and I find it rewarding to be able to work together to create a recycling-oriented society.
My day-to-day work is steady, but when I am featured in various media and when I see the actual product, I feel that I am contributing to society, even if only in a small way.
Have you actually purchased the products of your own D2C brand BRING™?
Hamada: I bought both shirts and sweatshirts (laughs).
It’s so comfortable to wear that you won’t believe it’s made of polyester, and it’s quick-drying, so you won’t have sweat clinging to your body even in the summer, so it’s very comfortable. When I first picked up the finished product, I was deeply moved.
Aim for global expansion! What is the vision of BRING™?
Do you have a vision for BRING™?
Takasugi: 2 million tons of domestic clothing is discarded every year. First of all, we are continuing our efforts with the spirit of recycling all of these.
In addition, looking at the world, there is a serious reality that 92 million tons of clothing are discarded every year. Ultimately, we hope to recycle these as well, turning them into “92 million tonnes of value.”
If we could reduce that much textile waste and at the same time use that textile waste as a resource to make new clothes, we would be able to avoid using the large amount of oil used in making clothes.
We believe that this will lead to the realization of a circular economy and, one day, to our vision of “making everything circulate”.
Are there any hurdles to overcome to realize that vision?
Takasugi: Nowadays, the words sustainable and ethical are finally starting to be heard on the streets, but it’s still hard to say that the idea itself has spread.
Through BRING™, we believe that it is necessary to first increase awareness toward the realization of a recycling-oriented society.
Also, we need to continue to create products that make people want to wear them because they are cool, not just because they are sustainable.
Finally, please give a message to the readers of Urmag.
Takasugi: We are very particular about the quality of the materials we use, and we take pride in creating products with a high degree of perfection that make people wonder, “Are these clothes really recycled?” I would like you to know that there are companies that are working on such things, and if you are interested, I would be happy if you could actually pick up the BRING™ products as a D2C brand!
Also, if you see our clothing collection box with a bee drawn on it, please bring the clothing you no longer need at home.
Takasugi-san and Hamada-san, thank you very much for your kind words!
Collaboration with BRING on RE: DESCENTE BIRTH
Descente is working on “RE: DESCENTE” considering sustainability as a “challenge to sustainable manufacturing”. In “RE: DESCENTE BIRTH”, which is the core of this project, Descente brand clothing is collected in collection boxes installed in Descente directly managed stores and reborn as new clothing.
Why not check out the products of RE: DESCENTE BIRTH, which aims to create a new production system of “from clothes to clothes”.