In 2018, after 15 years of experience in the apparel business, Mayer Vafi wanted to create a ‘better narrative’ surrounding sustainable living. He wanted to create a company and a dialogue around ensuring a future for generations to come by repurposing waste into fashionable high-quality apparel.
His latest venture, called Norden Project, produces outerwear using an innovative fabric made entirely of repurposed plastic waste with 100% traceability and transparency. He says that he wanted to change the way apparel is manufactured by creating clothing from repurposed waste and as a result, Norden’s fashionable outerwear is free of fur, feathers, leather, and all other animal by-products.
The launch of Vafi’s eco-focused company Better Narrative, and the subsequent introduction of the Norden Project, has Vafi’s vision moving forward quickly into Canada’s competitive outerwear business. Norden Project has Fall/Winter 2019 distribution at select retailers across the country including La Maison Simons, Sports Experts, Atmosphere, Hudson’s Bay, as well as internationally at Beams in Japan, Browns Fashions in London UK, and online at 24s.com and modehaus-schnitzler.de.
The new business venture is important not only to Vafi and his team, but to consumers who are looking to change how they shop. “We are at a crossroads, we cannot keep endlessly using our finite resources. Norden Project specializes in outerwear and wants to show that warmth and style do not have to come at the cost of people or the planet,” he said.
Vafi has partnered with REPREVE and Polartec for fabrics, and has gained PETA-approved Vegan status for the product line. Norden’s outerwear is constructed with a combination of three REPREVE fabrics – Oxford (100% polyester), Bonded (polyester/spandex blend), and a Two-way stretch (100% polyester), along with POLARTEC Polyfill made in the USA entirely of recycled plastic.
Another requirement is that all suppliers are UNIFI tested and approved. These partnerships allow Norden Project to use non-virgin polyester which consumes 45% less energy, 20% less water, and emits 30% less GHG.
“Our goal is to become a closed-loop production system and work towards a better narrative. Our customers and the community love that we are @PETA certified and that our products are made from recycled plastic. The jacket’s lining, insulation and shell fabrics, all made from post consumer bottles. They also love our end of life solution!” says Vafi.
Like Canada’s outerwear disruptor Wuxly Movement, Norden Project offers a trade-in initiative to put the company closer to this goal. Their ‘End of Life’ initiative invites purchasers of Norden outerwear to swap their garments – after a minimum of three winter seasons – for an updated one. Norden will provide a discount code of 40% that can be applied towards the new purchase of any Norden product. At this time the company does not know what they will do with the traded-in jackets but there are many options – donation, refurbish and resell, convert them into accessories – anything to prevent what they produce from going into a landfill. Their goal is to create solutions to convert unwanted garments into the raw materials needed for new garments.
For 2019, Vafi says “We want to show that better business practices do exist, we want to create awareness and shift mindset.”