polo ralph lauren has launched earth polo, a version of its iconic polo shirt. each shirt uses an average of 12 recycled plastic bottles and dyed through a process that uses zero water.
the shirts are produced in partnership with first mile, an organization that collects and turns the bottles into yarn and, ultimately, fabric. the new fibers will also be used for existing performance wear already made of polyfibers, which are popular for their ability to wick away moisture.
david lauren, the youngest son of the company’s founder and its chief innovation officer, told the associated press ahead of the announcement that the new shirt is part of a broader strategy of fresh environmental goals throughout the manufacturing process.
“every day we’re learning about what’s happened with global warming and what’s happening all around the world, and our employees and our customers are really feeling that it’s time to step up and make a difference,” lauren said.
among the company’s other goals: the use of 100% sustainably sourced cotton by 2025 and 100% recyclable or sustainably sourced packaging materials by the same year.
the earth polo isn’t the first of its kind. smaller brands around the world are using repurposed and recycled materials. it’s notable, other fashion leaders are also getting more aggressive on the environment.
late last year, burberry and h&m were among fashion stakeholders to sign on to the fashion industry charter for climate action, launched at the united nations climate change conference, cop24, in poland. the charter contains a vision to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050. ralph lauren is not a signatory but is exploring the call to action.
the broader question of biodegradability of such fibers remains unresolved. for polo earth, the story is about recycling and reusing, lauren said.
“there’s so much out in the world that is not good for the environment. whatever materials we can turn into threads, we’ll start looking at other opportunities,” he said. “right now, we’re trying to make sure that what we produce is as good for the environment as possible, or at least helps clean up another problem. are we creating a new problem? i think we’re creating solutions, or at least trying to find solutions.”
the earth polo went on sale thursday, ahead of monday’s earth day, at ralphlauren.com and retail stores around the world. it comes in styles for men and women in green, white, navy and light blue. we’re unsure if the dyeing process is the reason for the limited color palette. the shirts are not more expensive than other polos.