In this difficult time, azureazure is here for you. We are committed to helping both our readers and the industries that have been most impacted by the pandemic. Until the crisis is over, we will be publishing relevant content alongside our regular stories, which we hope offer you a few moments of escape. We would like to hear from you. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Established in 2009, the Spanish company Ecoalf has created an innovative concept that combines fashion design with the latest generation of recycled materials. Its president and founder is Javier Goyeneche, a young entrepreneur from Madrid graduated with a degree in Business Administration from the European Business School in London, England, and obtained a master’s degree in International Marketing Strategies from Northwestern University in Chicago, United States. In 1995, Goyeneche founded Fun & Basics, a fashion firm that specialized in handbags and accessories that. In 2005, the success of his business earned him theBest Young Entrepreneur in Madrid award.
Disappointed due to the amount of waste that he saw every day in the world of fashion, Javier Goyeneche set the goal of creating a different company that was sustainable and respectful of the environment. As a result, he created Ecoalf, a new fashion concept based on materials that are discarded and do not pollute our planet.
In a short amount of time, his firm has become an important global fashion and accessories company created from recycled materials, with products that cover most of the needs of today’s lifestyle: outerwear, swimsuits, T-shirts , sweatshirt, sneakers and accessories. In addition, Goyeneche has strategically expanded the distribution of its products, resulting in the presence of the brand to be in some of the most important department stores in the world.
Ecoalf designs have triumphed in the United States and other countries, captivating companies such as Apple, Marc Jacobs, Louis Vuitton Moët Hennesy, Harrod’s and Coca Cola, among others.
In this exclusive interview for azureazure.com, Javier Goyeneche shows us that doing things differently, and leaving behind the established norms, is not only possible but necessary.
When and how was the need to preserve the environment by creating fashion from recycled materials born?
Ecoalf came about as a result of the birth of my first son Alfredo. After viewing the indiscriminate use of natural resources, the idea of conceiving a sustainable fashion brand was born. I thought that the most ecological thing was not to continue using the planet’s natural resources. Currently, we consume five or six times more than the earth is capable of self-generating. Recycling could be a solution if we were able to create a new generation of recycled products with the same quality and properties as the best non-recycled products.
What do you remember from the beginning stages of your launching your company and what was the most complicated part of that process?
The biggest difficulty was the market for recycled fabrics. Those that existed were only recycled at a very low percent and were of very poor quality. Then I started to create alliances to develop a new generation of 100% recycled fabrics, with the look and textures of sophisticated fashion fabrics.
That was a very expensive investment …
That’s right, but thanks to that, today we have more than 60 fabrics developed with different residues. From the beginning, Ecoalf has had to invest many resources and time in research, development and innovation. Today we have more than fourteen alliances around the world – Taiwan, Korea, Portugal, Mexico, Japan, Spain, among other countries – with which we work closely to recycle and create high quality fabrics from waste. In addition, thanks to our continuous investment in sophisticated and innovative recycling processes, we have not only reduced the consumption of natural resources but also contribute to giving a second life to all waste, converting it back into raw material. As a result, Ecoalf tries to guarantee current needs without compromising the needs of future generations.
What materials are you currently working with?
Apart from the fact that we continue to recycle used plastic bottles, we also use abandoned fishing nets, old tires, coffee grounds and residues as well as post-industrial cotton and wool. We subject these materials to complex recycling processes to obtain the fabrics with which we subsequently manufacture all of our garments.
At the beginning of the Ecoalf project, did you imagine achieving the success you have today?
A couple of years ago I could not have imagined the level of sophistication and quality of the textures that we are achieving through recycling. We were told “no” for many years.
That is why we are proud that, despite being a firm that is so young and small, that we are making collaborations with brands such as Apple, Barneys, Nordstrom, Goop and Coolhunting, among others. With Apple USA we created a line of covers for Macbooks; with actress Gwyneth Paltrow, we designed an exclusive line for her website GOOP. We also made a limited edition for Barneys and another for Coolhunting’s website. We also collaborate with EKOCYCLE, which is a brand that the singer will.i.am and Coca-Cola work together on to promote sustainability. These collaborations have helped us a lot to communicate what we do and how we do it, since, we prefer to remain a small company.
Why do you think the United States is the most receptive country to these products?
American society is one step ahead, and moves at another pace. People are more aware. The launch of the brand in the United States was in 2012 and thereafter began the expansion to other markets, such as Japan and the rest of Europe. Foreign sales account for 90 percent of our total turnover.
The cost of recycling and creating fabrics with disposable materials is transferred to the final price of the products. Is it your goal that in the future anyone concerned about the environment can buy Ecoalf products at affordable prices?
Our goal is for people to become aware of the limitation of natural resources and not look the other way. We cannot continue to live on this planet as if we had another one ready to go to. There are three product lines within Ecoalf: Timeless, which is the basic one; Xtrem, which is more technical and sports based; and Uptown, which is the fashion line. Our intention is that Timeless becomes an accessible line, so that price is not the reason why someone does not acquire one of our products. Interestingly, in many foreign markets it has happened to us that the stores most interested in our philosophy and products did not want our more affordable items.
Apart from what is already being done to preserve the environment, what else can be done?
At Ecoalf we feel that we have the responsibility to state that resources are not unlimited, that they are exhausted and that we cannot continue to devastate the planet. We want to show that there is the possibility of doing things in a different way without sacrificing design and quality. True luxury consists of taking care of what really has value: our planet. At Ecoalf, ecological awareness and fashion complement each other. What is the point of creating a state-of-the-art car or a building with impeccable architecture, if they do not bring improvements to the environment and, therefore, to society? I think there is a lot to do.
What legacy would you wish to leave behind?
I just want to show people that they can buy products in a responsible way without having to compromise on design and quality. ■