Rewilder Proves Discarded Materials Have Life Beyond the Landfill
Jennifer Silbert, Co-founder of Rewilder
Los Angeles, CA
Jenny is a trained architect (M-Arch from Yale School of Architecture) with a background in material R+D, and complex architectural problem solving. She taught Materials Innovation classes – both graduate and undergraduate levels – at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena. She is a master scavenger, avid hiker, camper, artist, and mother of 3 living in Los Angeles.
Rewilder is a LA based sustainable fashion company. Our mission is to use industrial, non-recyclable materials that are thrown away on a massive scale, designing zero-waste product that has minimum environmental impact with maximum style.
Rewilder was born from research into post-industrial waste, specifically a filter cloth used in large American breweries. This high performance material is beautiful, durable, and lasts lifetimes in a landfill. I was working with my best friend, who’s in high fashion handbags, and together we came up with the first line of bags around this incredible material. We saw an opportunity to do truly sustainable design, committing to upcycling materials and responsible production, getting as close to zero waste as possible.
Rewilder is a new category of eco-fashion, where design meets true sustainability. We are proving that discarded materials have life beyond the landfill, and that with a shift in perspective they can be better than new material – better for design durability and better for the earth. Fast fashion is a pervasive and highly polluting industry, focusing on speed and low cost with devastating environmental impacts. Large companies are slowly catching up to the idea that this is not sustainable, and are moving in a more earth-friendly direction.
In 2018, we were in talks with industry giants interested in collaborating on sustainable design projects. We are being asked to advise on and develop innovative projects using upcycled materials (either self-sourced, or sourced from their waste stream). We are pushing the envelope, getting as close to 100% upcycled as possible with as small as footprint as possible, proving that it is both possible and profitable. Our ultimate goal is to create a business that will challenge, inspire and change the entire industry.
Our innovative approach to product design is minimal, simple and useful. We use 100% upcycled fabrics, and make timeless designs that last. We encourage people to buy smart, buy necessary from companies that are doing good. Sustainability is the DNA of our company, and we don’t sacrifice for convenience. We are transparent about the challenges of using upcycled materials, and where we fall short. We get as close to zero waste as possible, only sourcing new hardware (zippers, snaps and clips all USA made). We are passionately committed to this mission, and are working on a new piece that will be 100% zero waste – fabric, hardware and thread. We continue to push ourselves to do better, in sourcing materials, storytelling, sharing information and best environmental practices in our studio.
In 2018, we launched our Airbag Backpack – made from automotive salvage (upcycled airbag and seatbelt fabric saved from the landfill). We followed this with an Airbag Weekender, a totally rad bag using the same upcycled materials. Each year, the auto industry trashes over 100,000 tons of material that cannot be recycled. The numbers are staggering. In this waste stream, we found two amazing fabrics that can have a second life in fashion. The airbag fabric for the backpack body is high performance, lightweight, durable, waterproof, and surprisingly so beautiful. It has its own modern performance aesthetic and a unique textured graphic from its first life. The straps are made with salvaged seat belts – strong and comfortable – that complement the high speed aesthetic.