Alina Bassi, Kleiderly

Berlin and its tech- and fashion scene is re-inventing itself at the moment. Berlin has a vital community, when it comes to creative industry, incuding fashion. In our research at the intersection of innovation, technology and sustainability in fashion industry, we came across Alina Bassi, founder of Kleiderly. Waste is a major problem in the fashion industry, something what needs to be solved. Kleiderly turns post-consumer waste, which would go to landfills, into new products. A silverlining, when it comes to reducing post-consumer waste in fashion industry and using existing “ressources”,  giving them a new use. We were curious about this technology and its contribution to a sustainable fashion future. We are grateful that Alina answered our questions.  

What is Kleiderly about? What problem do you solve?
Having had a strong passion for sustainability from a young age, I always wanted to do something that involved leaving the planet in a better place. I studied Chemical Engineering and worked as an engineer within sustainability for many years, in energy from waste and biofuels. However during a trip to Tanzania in 2018, I saw where our ‘clothing donations’ were ending up, and how we were donating really low quality goods and dumping them. That’s when I decided to marry my passion for sustainability, my interest in the field of fashion as well as my knowledge as a Chemical Engineer, to come up with a circular solution. 100 billion garments of clothing are produced a year, with this number set to double by the year 2050 to keep up with our demand. According to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, 87% of all materials used for clothing ends up in landfills or incinerators, producing tonnes of CO2 emissions. On the other hand, plastic derived from crude oil encourages use of fossil fuels, producing 6kg of CO2 per kilogram of plastic produced. At Kleiderly, we solve two environmental problems at once. Using our patent pending process, we transform textile waste into a sustainable plastic alternative, thus reducing the requirement for oil based plastics. Hence unused textiles can be used to make anything from clothing hangers to furniture, creating a circular economy within the fashion industry. The opportunities are endless.

What makes your technology so special?
For many years, end of life textiles have been used to produce cleaning cloths, insulation, carpets and more. However now with the large volumes of textile waste being produced, the volumes are too high for the traditional recycling schemes. On the other hand, whilst we are all aware of the issues associated with plastics, our reliance on them is too high for us to use alternatives easily. Hence with Kleiderly, we wanted to take low value textiles that have no use, and will end up in landfill or incineration, and give them a new life, to create a circular economy.

What do you understand by sustainability in the fashion industry?
The fashion industry is trying to be more sustainable, but there is a long way to go. I’d love to see the fashion industry make decisions to become truly sustainable. Whether that’s re-evaluating their supply chain, or using sustainable clothing hangers made by us at Kleiderly, taking a stand and setting an example is vital for the big players. We want to enable them to do so by helping to create a circular economy, whereby waste is given value and consumerism becomes more conscious.

Circular economy is seen as a chance for a sustainable fashion world? Do you contribute to the circular economy of the fashion world? How does this exactly look like?
We take waste that would otherwise go to landfills and not decompose for over 200 years, or go to landfills and get burned, and turn this into a valuable resource that also replaces plastics derived from crude oil. We use circular economy principles to do so, keeping waste out of landfill and re-using it. Implementing a circular economy could halve the EU’s CO2 emissions by 2030. This is a novel circular economy solution solving two environmental problems at once.

Why did you choose Berlin as your business location?
I love Berlin. There are vast opportunities here for anyone to grow their career. It is an exciting, fast paced city, where you can never get bored. The startup scene is vibrant, with many different accelerators, events, government funding as well as VC firms.

We will follow Alina on her way and wish her all the best.

Photocredit by DFLA andreaheinsohnphotography