LISTEN TO NICK LECKIE TALK WITH LARRY WILLIAMS ABOVE
Husband-and-wife duo Nick and Nevada Leckie are doing something different with their apparel brand – and it comes in the form of plastic bottles.
The Leckies, both 30, who run raincoat brand Okewa, are crowdfunding $30,000 to produce a range of coats made 100 per cent from recycled plastic bottles.
Wellington-based Okewa decided to create the eco-friendly range in response to the “mammoth plastic waste issue the world is facing”.
MacArthur, whose foundation estimates by 2050 there will be more plastic than fish in the ocean.
“The industry is synthetic-dominated in the outdoor fabric space and that got us thinking. We were in a challenging space of having to use synthetic fibres and began researching more into recycled polyesters,” Nick Leckie said.
Okewa’s fabric supplier sources plastic bottles from Japan, breaks those down into plastic flakes, melts those into pellets which are then extruded into a yarn and woven into a fabric before being laminated to make it waterproof.
“There’s a lot of steps in the process for us to get a beautiful fabric but people are generally excited to see that waste product being used as a material, and given a second life.”
A long Okewa coat recycles 31 plastic bottles and a shorter jacket recycles 22.
Coats in the Recycled Line cost between $425 and $545 and are available for pre-order through its Kickstarter campaign.
So far, the brand has raised $20,784 and sold 43 jackets.
Nick Leckie said the crowdfunded money would be used to build its sales volumes.
Okewa has partnered with a new outerwear fabric manufacturer in Thailand, which makes material for some of the world’s leading luxury brands, including Burberry.
“It’s a really exciting opportunity for us but has brought with it new challenges around meeting a new minimum order quantity which has necessitated the need to do crowdfunding to get people’s support and behind us to build up that sales volume,” he said.
“We’re transitioning to this exciting new partner.”
The Leckies said they would be open to making all of Okewa’s raincoat ranges from recycled plastic in the future. “Wherever there’s a synthetic, it seems like if we can avoid extrapolating new raw materials, then that’s the right thing to do – to use waste and give it an expanded life cycle.
“The hope is we get enough public support behind the kickstarter and really launch the line with a bang, and do a lot in the recycled space going forward.”