Surfing champion Kelly Slater has jumped on board the sustainable wave with his own menswear brand. We get the low down on a brand that’s making a splash. (Sorry, couldn’t help myself).

“I created Outerknown to smash the formula”, Slater says on his website. “To lift the lid on the traditional supply chain, and prove that you can actually produce great looking menswear in a sustainable way.”

Outerknown is not only focussing on environmental issues within supply chains but is also concerned with labour rights and the use of harmful toxins. Slater has partnered with the Fair Labour Association which sets standards aimed at protecting workers throughout his supply chain, and Bluesign, a sustainable auditing company that seeks to eliminate harmful substance in the manufacturing process.

Kelly Slater

But it’s the two pressing environmental issues, textile waste and ocean plastic, that really has Slater talking.

The brand’s Evolution Series includes board shorts and jackets made from Econyl, a new type of nylon yarn which is made from old nets, carpets and other nylon waste.

“There’s an infinite number of times the nylon can be broken down and reborn into new yarn without any loss of quality,” Outerknown notes on its website. So these clothes have the potential to be upcycled again and again into new clothing.

According to the Marine Mammal Centre, abandoned fishing nets, known as ‘ghost nets’, make up approximately 10 percent of all marine debris. More than 100,000 marine mammals – including fish, dolphins, sea lions, seals and birds – die each year from the rubbish floating in our oceans.

“You have problems like not only oil spills and that kind of stuff but also the constant outpouring of plastics,” Slater told CNN. “Single-use plastics all through the ocean, degrading, turning into little bits that are all eaten by the sea life, and they’re dying because their stomachs are full of stuff.”

Outerknown is described by GQ as a “cool-ass new surf line”.

“I believe we have an obligation to build better products and understand the way our consumption impacts the world around us,” Slater also wrote on Instagram. “In saying that, the focus of our brand is to make a product that has a positive effect on every possible level.”

Outerknown uses environmentally-friendly or recycled materials, such as organic cotton, hemp and recycled nylon to ensuring its manufacturing suppliers stick to stringent codes of conduct, and source wool sustainably from Alpacas, I can say Slater’s brand is surfing a very sustainable wave.

Posted by:Bethany Noble

Bethany is a Sydney-based writer and social entrepreneur. She has been curating an ethical wardrobe for 7 years and loves sharing her journey with people.

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